Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Today's Tom Friedman op-ed, entitled Help Wanted (Times Select subscription needed), talks about one of the strongest reasons for an Obama presidency:

it is his potential to repair the broken relationship between America and the world.

He ends the piece with:

Which brings me back to Mr. Obama. I believe that what has propelled his candidacy up to now — more than anything — is that many Americans have projected onto him their hunger for community, their hunger for a president with the voice, instincts and moral authority to make it so much harder for foreigners to be anti-American or for Americans to be anti-one-another.

I don't know too much about Obama yet and so I haven't made up my mind about Obama vs Hillary (or any of the other Democratic candidates). I saw Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention back in 2004, and he was incredibly inspiring! The kind of "inspiring" that you want in a leader. What I don't know about him yet is whether he has enough experience and knowledge to do a good job. Certainly the caricature of him is someone who doesn't have enough knowledge. I realize that these caricatures are just that; each of the Democratic and Republican candidates are hampered by their own caricatures. I hope to learn more about him over the next year.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton seems totally on top of policy issues and seems to know her stuff inside out. I saw her talk here at Google (she was interviewed on stage by Eric Schmidt), and I just got the feeling that I agreed with all the policy points and priorities she made, and that she was incredibly knowledgeable. But, and this is the unfortunate part, I didn't find her particularly inspiring.

Is it more important to be competent and knowledgeable or to be inspiring? Can't we have both?!


AV said...

I, for one, am rooting for Rudy McRomney. :-)

More seriously, it is interesting how the different Dem-supporters are coming out for Obama and others. Krugman has complained of a "content-free rivalry between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- a rivalry that, at this point, is mainly a struggle over who's the bigger celebrity and gets to lock up the big donors" and has gone on to praise Edwards for his detailed health care and budget-deficit plans.

On the other side (of the pond and the political spectrum), in the recent Economist, Lexington rambled on about how Obama was light on content (especially on health care) and that if this were an election purely on policy alone, Hillary would win hands down.

But as you point out, it is not about policy at all. It is not about intelligence either. It is merely about whether you can win over joe-blow voter - in this respect, I expect Hillary will flop. Completely. She will come across as being too clever and too knowledgeable for her own good.

Note to self: What the heck am I doing politicizing on a public blog? (these blogs are addictive).


Champs_3_349 said...

Obama is the Sanjaya of the Democratic nomination.

Pandu Nayak said...

That's really funny! Or, given that this is a blog, I should say lol (that's "laughing out loud" for those of you not up on blog/IM jargon!).

Hopefully Obama is more competent than that.

Alon Halevy said...

Interesting commentary about Hilary not being inspiring. I was there too at the presentation.

I seem to recall another Clinton (Bill?) who did not exactly have the reputation of inspiring a few years back. Wasn't he the guy who managed to put the Democratic national convention to sleep one year? (or something like that). Incredibly on top of the issues, but not inspiring.

However, as you well point out, today, after 8 years in the white house, a few scandals and an overall good presidency (got his VP to invent the internet, no?), he is considered inspiring (and he is).

My point -- sometimes the inspiring aspects come over time, and as a result of being in a particular role.

Pandu Nayak said...

I hope you're right (about what it takes to be "inspiring"). As I noted, Hillary clearly has a great handle on the issues and her thinking on them is consistent with mine. So I'd be quite happy to have her be president.

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