Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Substance, Not Hype

It is about time someone in the media said this...

David Broder recently wrote an op-ed criticizing the media's approach to covering potential presidential candidates and he made some comments that I felt were worth posting here.

Instead of prematurely anointing front-runners, we might better serve the public
by examining the full range of the presidential field.

He goes on to call for "some serious, solid reporting, instead of star-gazing." He was referring to the media's recent obsession with Barack Obama.

This made me reflect on the matter and it got me to wondering why everyone is so excited about this man. Actually, it got me to wondering if the excitement is justified. I know why everyone is excited about him - I am too, for the same reasons.

He has extraordinary and undeniable charisma. He is exceptionally articulate and appears to be a rare voice of both passionate conviction and reasonable moderation.

He may be the real thing, and I hope that he is. I truly want to see at least one great president in my lifetime. But I don't know Obama, and I'm not sure anybody else does either.

Does anyone out there know what the man stands for? What he stands against? He's been in the Senate for barely two years. Before that, he was a state senator in Illinois and a civil rights attorney. He has no significant executive experience, and a limited legislative record.

Some say that this is not a sufficient background to assume the Presidency of the United States. I am not sure I agree with that. I do not think any job fully prepares you to be the President. Being governor of a large state gives you domestic political and leadership experience, but little in the way of foreign policy. Serving in the Senate may give you familiarity with major domestic policy issues and potentially some foreign policy exposure, but it does not prepare you to lead.

This is not a problem though.

Presidents have access to the finest minds in the world. What they must have is a strong, decisive and curious intellect, the ability to inspire and persuade, and the character to put the nation's interests above their own party, poll numbers and reelection prospects. At least, this is what one must have to do the job well. Brilliance and specific leadership experiences are desirable, but not necessary.

Which of these does Barack possess? And what about the other candidates? If the media doesn't provide us with the answers, we will have to find another way to find out. As the campaigns progress, I'll be posting info to this site that I think is relevant to answering this question. Please post comments if you have any helpful links or thoughts, now or over the course of the coming campaigns.

FYI - I took Broder's comments from this op-ed.


rusure said...

I agree with your post. I would like to know more about the experiences that would shape an Obama presidency. I think the media is focusing on Barak and Hillary for a couple of reasons:

1. They are preparing the country for a minority President.

2. They realize the majority of Americans are not intellectually curious enough to pursue learning about the the media take the initiative of identifying the leading candidates. I also think the media choose favorites based on their political desires or economic benefit. Both Hillary and Barak appeal to their target audiences of women and/or other minorities. I personally think Bill Richardson, the Gov. from N.M. could serve the same purpose and be a decent candidate

Jared said...

I think your points are valid. The more the media presents women and minorities as serious candidates, the less of a factor it should be in the election - obviously a good thing.

Still, I wonder how much the media IDENTIFIES the leading candidates and how much it SELECTS them. The latter should not be the job of the media...and I fear that is what happens quite often.