Friday, April 20, 2007

The New Presidency (paca)

A few days ago I wrote about Presidential candidate Bill Richardson who has super credentials but no name recognition. I haven't ever seen him speak, so I can't talk about his charisma, but he obviously doesn't light people on fire like Barack Obama does. Due to this, I am guessing that he's angling for a Vice-Presidency spot on the ticket as the most likely scenario. And then I thought how he could make a very nice team with Obama. Obama is supposed to be the vision guy, the persuader, the inspiring one, the character guy. Richardson would then be there as the worldly guy.

This then made me think how similar such a ticket is in concept to the Bush / Cheney idea. In 2000, Bush had been a relatively successful governor of Texas, so he had some noteworthy experience, but really he was running as "the compassionate conservative". He would stand for mainstream Republican-ish values - conservative, but not too much so. Whether or not that's what we got, you can all go off on in the comments, but that's what was being sold. Bush would bring general character qualities that were desirable, and then he'd surround himself with the experienced people. People who had already held major offices in the past and knew national and international things. Cheney of course was a big one. It's certainly not like Cheney is charismatic at all; he was the knowledge guy to complement Bush's weaknesses.*

And that's essentially the vision I was having for my Obama / Richardson team. Obama is vision and character; Richardson is knowledge and experience. A team just like Bush and Cheney.

What's interesting about this to me is that this really is a very different model of how the White House operated historically. Until Bush / Cheney, VPs more often than not represented the President's views and would be given a couple major tasks to go off and work on. Whenever you read accounts of the current administration's procedures though, the Vice President's office is involved over and over and over. They are there in the thick of things as much as any cabinet secretary and perhaps even more, since a Cabinet post has relatively defined areas of concern, while the VP is weighing in on military strategy to diplomacy to stem cells to....

No matter what the failings of the current administration, I wonder if this idea of a true Pres / VP team is going to be a lasting legacy. And no matter how often I disagree with Bush and Cheney, it's not clear that the team method itself is all that bad.

*Bush as the character guy and Cheney as the experience guy does seem to be what we in fact got. The main trouble is that Bush' character has some significant flaws - loyalty and dogged determinedness above, well, everything. Also, it appears that Cheney often gives really bad advice despite his experience. However, I have a feeling Bush never comes up with the plan. He decides on the plans that Cheney or others offer to him as possibilities. I take that back. I think Bush knows politics and campaigning and probably originates some ideas there.


Killer Llama said...

I abhor the thought that the President would be nothing more than a figurehead.

That's all.

pacatrue said...

I agree, llama. That would be a disaster.
I do think it's OK for the President to have certain strengths which are then complemented by a very close adviser who is also the VP. No problem there, is it? As long as it remains absolutely clear to everyone that the Prez is in charge. And that she deserves to be in charge.

Sammy Jankis said...

Bush's problem mainly is that after the first election he surrounded himself with qualified and knowledgeable people (much to my relief) but then only listened to the whackos and hawks and ignored everyone else (much to my dismay).