CAMPAIGN 08: The executive campaign

Obama at the helm

Deep into a primary campaign that was supposed be over by now, Barack Obama must still answer one fundamental question. Jeremiah Wright notwithstanding, it’s not whether he’s too black. It’s whether he’s too green. Hillary Clinton has made Obama’s inexperience her chief line of attack, and if she goes down, John McCain will pick up where she left off. Luckily, Obama doesn’t have to rely on his legislative resume to prove he’s capable of running the government. He can point to something more germane: the way he’s run his campaign.

Presidents tend to govern the way they campaigned. Jimmy Carter ran as a moralistic outsider in 1976, and he governed that way as well, refusing to compromise with a Washington establishment that he distrusted (and that distrusted him). Ronald Reagan’s campaign looked harsh on paper but warm and fuzzy on TV, as did his presidency. The 1992 Clinton campaign was like the Clinton administration: brilliant and chaotic, with a penchant for near-death experiences. And the 2000 Bush campaign presaged the Bush presidency: disciplined, hierarchical, loyal and ruthless. [complete article]

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