Thursday, September 18, 2008
Teflon, Talent and Story Arc
Meanwhile, speaking of gaffes, am I forgetting something or has Barack Obama basically not made any? I'm not talking about policy positions that made waves before the conventional wisdom caught up with them, or "scandals" like his pastor. I can't remember a single time where he just muffed one and had to ask for a "do over." They called Reagan the Teflon President because he could get away with so many whoppers. But Obama just doesn't seem to stumble. Regardless of whether you support him or not, he's pretty good at what he does.
Meanwhile, too, so is John McCain. By which I mean he's a pretty good Senator, especially when it comes to stuff he cares about, like getting up in some Defense Department official's face about wasteful procurement contracts. I really don't see how he serves his nation better as President than as Senator, and the proof is that he's been a Senator for forever. It's been almost fifty years since a Senator made it to the White House, but has anyone who ever languished in the Senate for most of their career ever done it?
What's more, for all the talk of "Obama the Celebrity" and charges of inexperience, the Presidency has more often been the culmination of a meteoric rise than the epilogue to a stagnant career. Think Bob Dole, or even Joe Biden for that matter. The Presidency isn't an afterthought, what you get for having stuck around long enough to be closest to the ring. Ronald Reagan had been around forever by the time he won the Presidency, but he was a crusader who led a movement from the wilderness to the Promised Land. There was a story arc to the narrative. McCain's story arc flattened out when he lost to George W. Bush in 2000.