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Are we really divided over what the Presidency is?

Old 10-27-04, 02:03 PM
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Are we really divided over what the Presidency is?

After reading more than a few of the posts here over the last few days, and after seeing the well done ad Ashley's Story once again last evening, I started thinking more about one of David Brooks recent articles. His main claim is that we are divided not truly over issues or individuals, but as to what we believe the Presidency should be, what a leader should be. Here is the relative snipet from his article:

Second, and probably more important, we're in the middle of a leadership war. Underneath all the disputes about Iraq, we're having a big argument about what qualities America should have in a leader. Republicans trust one kind of leader, Democrats another. This is the constant that runs through recent elections.

Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, particularly admire leaders who are straight-talking men of faith. The Republican leader doesn't have to be book smart, and probably shouldn't be narcissistically introspective. But he should have a clear, broad vision of America's exceptional role in the world. Democrats, on the other hand, are more apt to emphasize such leadership skills as being knowledgeable and thoughtful. They value leaders who can see complexities, who possess the virtues of the well-educated.

Republicans and Democrats have different conceptions of the presidency. Republicans admire a president who is elevated above his executive branch colleagues. It is impossible to imagine George W. Bush or Reagan as a cabinet secretary. Instead, they are set apart by virtue of exceptional moral qualities. Relying on their core values, they set broad goals and remain resolute in times of crisis.

Democrats see the presidency as a much more ministerial job. They admire presidents who engage in constant deliberative conversations. Democrats from Carter through Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore and Kerry have all been well versed in the inner workings of government. It is easy to imagine each of them serving as a cabinet secretary.

It just so happens that America is evenly divided about what sort of leader we need: the Republican who leads with his soul or the Democrat who leads with his judgment. Even the events of the past four years have not altered that disagreement.

That's why we are still tied.
Surely there is some truth to what he states, but I can't believe this is completely the case. I have to, (want to?), believe that many on both sides of the fence want a healthy dose of both. Am I wrong? Is our divide really this simplistic?
(I'll reserve the rest of my thoughts for now.)





Here is where you can find the aforementioned ad if interested.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:09 PM
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Call me crazy but I would like a combination of both.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:09 PM
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Being President is alot more complex than core beliefs and bureaucracy. These are important qualities, but it takes someone who will stick by what he says he's going to do and take the action necessary to complete and not giving into pressure or being swayed by populice. Placating people and sugar coating major issues in this world is a sign of inner weakness.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:10 PM
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Look at someone like John F. Kennedy. Surely he fit into both of these categories quite nicely. As do many of the Presidents of yore. (Is yore really a word?)

Bush and Kerry do not, however. That part is correct so perhaps the point is valid for this election, given the choices.

I think that we would all like to see a President who handles both elements in a distuguished manner. There is no doubt that Bush is lacking in the "cabinet secretary" skills department. Given the choice, however, I (being a republican) lean strongly towards what Bush has to offer rather than Kerry.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:12 PM
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So, to put it bluntly, Republicans want a Head of State, and Democrats want a Head of Government? I can buy that, or something pretty close to it...

Quick, name a Democratic President's Chief of Staff.

I bet it's a lot harder to think of one than it would be for most Republican Presidents. It certainly is for me. Republican Presidents seem to prefer delegating authority, and instead concentrating on the macro-policy, on the 'message'. Democratic Presidents (and Carter was the best/worst example of this) get bogged down in minutiae, and have a tendency to overmanage.

Personally, I'd like a decisive, yet introspective intellectual who can communicate well. I guess maybe I'd like Bill Clinton with principles and a better sense of instant gratification restraint.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:17 PM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
Quick, name a Democratic President's Chief of Staff.
Leo McGarry?
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Old 10-27-04, 02:21 PM
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Originally posted by Chew
Leo McGarry?

Not for long.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:23 PM
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I think there's quite a bit of truth in that. I've said on more than one occassion that taken to extremes Republicans believe they're right because God (or whatever higher morality) said so and that's all they need to know, and Democrats believe they're right because you're too stupid to understand why and they don't have the energy to explain it to you. I don't say that to pick a fight, because it's obviously an exaggerated generalization, but the core concept is valid. There's a lot of moral superiority from the right and intellectual superiority from the left. That's a grossly unrealistic assessment of the morality of the left and intelligence of the right, but nevertheless it's how you see many partisans acting, especially in how they attack one another: Clinton is immoral; Bush is an idiot.

When looking for a leader, these extremes manifest themselves as the article indicates.

I don't feel that way, and I suspect most of the forum doesn't either, but when you talk about the general populace as a whole, I think there's a disturbing amount of accuracy to those statements.

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Old 10-27-04, 02:23 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
Not for long.
Next time use spoiler tags, dammit!

But do you see my point? For some reason, GOP Presidents seem to have much more prominent Chiefs of Staff than the Dem counterparts, unless I'm just imagining things.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:42 PM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
Next time use spoiler tags, dammit!

But do you see my point? For some reason, GOP Presidents seem to have much more prominent Chiefs of Staff than the Dem counterparts, unless I'm just imagining things.
Perhaps my personal experience is preventing me from seeing this, but I think overall you are not imagining things.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:50 PM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
Quick, name a Democratic President's Chief of Staff.
Leon Panetta.

Name one of George H.W. Bush's Chiefs of Staff.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:53 PM
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Originally posted by JasonF
Leon Panetta.

Name one of George H.W. Bush's Chiefs of Staff.
Sununu and Baker.

Duh.
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Old 10-27-04, 02:55 PM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
Sununu and Baker.

Duh.
There was a third guy in there. Does anybody remember poor Sam Skinner?
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Old 10-27-04, 03:03 PM
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Originally posted by JasonF
There was a third guy in there. Does anybody remember poor Sam Skinner?

Sure, he is still blamed by certain circles for you know who.
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Old 10-27-04, 03:14 PM
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Sadly, IMO, the Repubs have generally better staffs overall than do the Democrats.

It seems that all the Repubican transitions go quite smoothly. They hit the ground running.

In sharp contrast, witness Bill Clinton's transition. Even worse than that was the Carter transition. His staff didn't even locate the White House for a year.

This also seems to apply to cabinet selections.
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Old 10-27-04, 04:13 PM
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It's important to me that a President be intellectually curious. They don't have to be Ivory Tower-like, but they have to be able to ask intelligent questions of their staffs and they should be open to at least hearing opposing ideas to check the validity of their own views. Bush Sr. certainly fell into this category. Reagan less so, but his staff was able to operate this way. Bush is the least intellectually curious of all the Presidents Dem or Rep over the past 50 years. No one in his staff questions anything, they simply read their reports and the President nods. If there was any back and forth between the staff, that was quickly crushed by the more dominant members of the administration. I don't think on a whole the staff operates very well. I think Reagan's and Bush I's staff had a lot more integrity than the current administration. But that's just my opinion.
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Old 10-27-04, 04:36 PM
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Originally posted by VinVega
Bush is the least intellectually curious of all the Presidents Dem or Rep over the past 50 years. No one in his staff questions anything, they simply read their reports and the President nods. If there was any back and forth between the staff, that was quickly crushed by the more dominant members of the administration. I don't think on a whole the staff operates very well.
How sure are you that it operates just like this with Bush? Or is it conjecture?
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Old 10-27-04, 04:49 PM
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Originally posted by VinVega
I think Reagan's and Bush I's staff had a lot more integrity than the current administration. But that's just my opinion.
arnt they for a large part the same people?
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Old 10-27-04, 04:58 PM
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Originally posted by Nazgul
How sure are you that it operates just like this with Bush? Or is it conjecture?
I'm not a Washinton insider, but from a number of articles I've read, this is the case. I'm sure the books that follow will be interesting to say the least. Both sides (supporters and critics) will believe what they want to believe which is simply the way of the world I guess.
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Old 10-27-04, 05:50 PM
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Originally posted by VinVega
It's important to me that a President be intellectually curious. They don't have to be Ivory Tower-like, but they have to be able to ask intelligent questions of their staffs and they should be open to at least hearing opposing ideas to check the validity of their own views. Bush Sr. certainly fell into this category. Reagan less so, but his staff was able to operate this way. Bush is the least intellectually curious of all the Presidents Dem or Rep over the past 50 years. No one in his staff questions anything, they simply read their reports and the President nods. If there was any back and forth between the staff, that was quickly crushed by the more dominant members of the administration. I don't think on a whole the staff operates very well. I think Reagan's and Bush I's staff had a lot more integrity than the current administration. But that's just my opinion.
Are you Bob Woodward, and you just masquerade as Vin Vega for purposes of posting on this board? Because it sure sounds like you know the way things work inside the Bush White House.

Of course, the real question is- if you're that close to the source of power, can you snap some nudies of Barbara (the daughter not the grandmother) and send them my way?
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Old 10-27-04, 06:48 PM
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Originally posted by bardevious
Are you Bob Woodward, and you just masquerade as Vin Vega for purposes of posting on this board? Because it sure sounds like you know the way things work inside the Bush White House.

Of course, the real question is- if you're that close to the source of power, can you snap some nudies of Barbara (the daughter not the grandmother) and send them my way?

I believe VinVega's assessment is a reasonable, although somewhat off the mark, one, particularly based upon much of what has been written about the Administration. And I choose to stand by what he says, even if I disagree, given the readily apparent levels of intelligence and courtesy he brings to our discussions here.


Somewhat back on topic, I think his view underscores the differences that we all have, the differences that Mr. Brooks attempts to portray in the article quoted. Our expectations are clearly different, so our views are dramatically different. The larger question then becomes, given the world in which we now find ourselves, can we as a nation overcome these differences, if not fully, enough to be effective as the world's hyperpower?
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Old 10-27-04, 07:43 PM
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Originally posted by Pharoh
I believe VinVega's assessment is a reasonable, although somewhat off the mark, one, particularly based upon much of what has been written about the Administration. And I choose to stand by what he says, even if I disagree, given the readily apparent levels of intelligence and courtesy he brings to our discussions here.


Somewhat back on topic, I think his view underscores the differences that we all have, the differences that Mr. Brooks attempts to portray in the article quoted. Our expectations are clearly different, so our views are dramatically different. The larger question then becomes, given the world in which we now find ourselves, can we as a nation overcome these differences, if not fully, enough to be effective as the world's hyperpower?
Well, I appreciate the stick up for me Pharoh.

I think the problem with being a hyperpower is that despite the fact that no one can kick your ass militarily, you still have a responsibility to sell your reasons for action to the world. Bush did a superior job of selling his reasoning to the US population (especially his base and the moderates), but he did not make much of a real effort to do so to the world community. I think a core difference between supporters of the President and his critics lie in their beliefs about the role of diplomacy in the equation. The President and his administration are perceived as viewing diplomacy as a nuisance, something that you do just for a token gesture and move on with your intentions, while the critics have a much higher opinion of diplomacy. Just because we're not locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union doesn't mean we aren't still forever in the court of world opinion. I don't think they'd render a very positive verdict of our actions over the past 2 years. Does that matter to you? Well it all depends if you’re a Bush supporter or a critic.
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Old 10-28-04, 11:05 AM
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Originally posted by Chew
Leo McGarry?

Speaking of Leo, his boss (well, ex-boss ) certainly falls within the mold.
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