I don’t know what makes for a good politician and I’m not sure anybody does. It’s an odd job after all, all kinds of media flash and little substantive result. Politics is a job where you spend a good portion of the time preparing for another campaign to keep the job – it’s not a very productive use of resources but that that’s what we have these days.
A politician may be smart but there is no requirement to be. A politician may be quick to absorb and assimilate information into a proper perspective but you don’t have to be able to do this either. It doesn’t hurt if a politician is capable of working with others but this too, is not a requirement. A goo speaking voice is nice but like any other skill or need the necessity of having one is also not required. In fact, it is the only job that is in a management position of hiring and firing other people that requires decisions and policy making, that a resume is not sufficient in the hiring process. If a resume were sufficient to employment then Joe Biden with thirty plus years in the Senate, sponsor of major legislation, chairman at various times of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with two terms as Vice-President, would be a shoo-in. Would be.
And then there’s Bill Clinton, a Governor of a backwater state, even in those days there were whispers about the bending of laws, the seeking of self gratification, who became a very popular President. But a resume isn’t all of it. There’s the character thing. There’s the experiential thing. There’s the compassion thing.
Going back to Biden this is a man who lost his wife and one of his children to a car crash when he was soon to be sworn in as a Senator for the first time. He was convinced to take the oath of office by Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy and Mike Mansfield. Biden agreed and took the train to and from Washington every day. Four hours of travel a day to be with his kids whenever he could. Biden forsook attending the parties and galas and the meetings with reporters that had juice to be with his kids. Not six months, not a year or five – always.
Character is paramount in a politician but electability often does not reflect a pure image of that character. By many accounts G.W. Bush is a sociopath yet that did little to affect his electability. Bush’s electability makes him seem a successful politician yet what he did once elected demonstrated what the dearth of quality of character can lead to.
“I’m not just glibly tossing around pejorative rhetoric when I suggest that Bush may be a sociopath. It’s an idea that Kurt Vonnegut explained coherently, based on clinical studies of this particular personality disorder – the notion that many of our leaders simply lack a normal conscience. One study shows that as much as 4% of the population may have the disorder, and many of them have attained positions of great power and responsibility: “Because sociopaths are ruthless and will squash their rivals and burn institutions to the ground in order to reach their goals – but great at pretending that they care about people – they are incredibly destructive.” That fits our fratboy president to a T. But more than most, he pulled the curtain aside to reveal his abhorrent moral character with remarks that illustrate his sadistic sense of humor. I’m thinking here of moments like the mocking of a death-row prisoner pleading for her life. Or the fist-pump he gave as a kiss-off to fellow world leaders at his final G8 summit, as he celebrated his achievements in quashing action to combat climate change, announcing “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” Or how, one year before the invasion of Iraq, while his aides were ostensibly discussing a peaceful resolution to the non-existent problem of WMDs, Bush poked his head in the door and quipped “Fuck Saddam! We’re taking him out!” Which is much cuter than the WMD “comedy” video he showed at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, long after the falsehoods of his casus belli had led to needless death and destruction. And even though it wasn’t meant as a joke, it’s just as instructive to recall the infamous push poll question he used against John McCain: “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”…” http://www.markzepezauer.com/2013/04/ten-worst-things-george-w-bush-did.html
“How can voters be sure that a candidate will hold up during those kinds of pressure situations? The short answer is that they can’t. Even so, a candidate’s character often gives clues as to how the person will react under stress. People disagree about what character traits are most important in a President. But there are some commonly accepted things that people look for, such as n integrity, strength, and caring.”
“Franklin D. Roosevelt, who grew up near New York’s Hudson River, said that his character was rooted in his childhood. “All that is in me goes back to the Hudson,” he once said. Youthful experiences are also credited with shaping Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. Experts say that the misfortune that both faced at a young age helped make them very determined men.”
“For instance, 14-year-old Bill Clinton was a star student in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He seemed to excel at everything he did. Yet his sunny attitude and good grades masked terrible problems at home. His stepfather was an alcoholic who abused Clinton’s mother. Clinton testified at their divorce trial that he had tried to stop his stepfather’s violence. In response, he said, the older man “threatened to mash my face in.”
“On the other hand, Bob Dole was a shy, athletic boy who grew up during the Great Depression in a poor neighborhood of Russell, Kansas. At 18, he joined the U.S. Army to fight in World War II. When he was 21, Dole was wounded twice. His wounds almost killed him and they left his right arm useless. “I do try harder,” Dole once said. “If I didn’t, I’d be sitting in a rest home, in a rocker, drawing disability [pay].” http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4676