Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Looking For Someone...

... with the courage to say "I don't know."

Let's talk about everybody's favourite Republican - Abraham Lincoln.

Something that I've heard mentioned a few times over the last couple years is how one of Lincoln's greatest assests was his ability to admit he didn't know something. When elected, he was aware that he could give a good speech, had his beliefs, and believed in his leadership abilities, but knew he came up short when it came to complex economic matters, that there would be difficult legal changes, etc.. So he brought in the BEST people he could to help him. Not the best people who were willing to kiss his ass, or the best people who had their own agendas and tried to control him and govern from the vizier's seat, but the best people period.

He had adivsors, staff, and confidantes who hated him. They didn't agree with his politics, his philosophy, thought his sense of humour was crude (it was), and probably didn't like his beard too much. But they were called upon by their President to do a job. They were told to do what was best for the country, and to give their expert opinion to shape policy. On top of that, he LISTENED and applied their knowledge.

I'd like to see a President do that. Bush sure as hell didn't, what with his "message from God" attitude, and the handlers who controlled him, not the other way around.

Can McCain? Perhaps. I'd have a lot more faith in the old maverick than the new guy in his skin. But he's been around politics long enough (and that military service may actually be handy in herding the cats of political office) to know how to play the game and stay in control. He might even still be able to reach across the aisle and surprise everyone by asking a Democrat or two to help him out. He might. But first he needs to show a glimmer of the old guy.

Can Obama? Maybe. Apparently he's a big Lincoln fan, keeps Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals with him. Not surprising since Lincoln was an inexperienced, yet charismatic, Illinois senator himself. But can he overcome the political system to do these things? Would he bring Hillary into a major role? Could he shock people and mend fences by convincing a Republican to join his cabinet (or whatever you call it south of me)? Or will his inexperience swamp his charisma as he drowns in backroom deals and the real politics?

In some ways, both have already started. McCain from selecting Palin as his VP, who fills in the gaps of his campaign. She's harder right, appeals to women, is young and vibrant, etc, etc.. Obama with Biden as his choice, bringing decades of experience in the halls of Washington, and his own ill-fated Presidential run.

Eventually, we'll see if either has the guts to make some real changes, even at the expense of their own ego.

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