Higgins: Seek the position, work the jobWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re counting the final days until what the pundits are have been telling us will be a momentous election. Though this is not an election year in which the presidency will be decided, the current occupant of the White House has insisted on more than one occasion that it will nevertheless be very much about his administration and its policies and decisions, which makes them very much something worth a look.
History has given us presidents who’ve grown enamored of the power of the job and felt that only they were qualified to wield it. We’ve had those who, either from illness or injury, have been all but physically unable of the strength necessary to serve in the office and wield the power of their job. We’ve even had one who largely ceded the day-to-day responsibilities of the office to the first lady. (No, I’m not talking about her, but about Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, who during the prolonged and disabling stroke of her husband Woodrow, controlled what and who, if anyone, reached the president’s attention.)
We’ve also had presidents who’ve surrounded themselves with cabinets who came to feel that they might better wield the president’s power than he and contested with him for it. We’ve even had those who to their detriment attempted to cede too much of their power Congress — not realizing that a mob of confused competitors is as dangerous as a gaggle of fawning sycophants. For the first time in the history of the nation however (at least in my memory), we live in an era where the resident of the White House has been far more interested in successfully competing for the position than in performing the duties of the job.
So if this year’s election is as the president tells us, about the policies of the current administration, and to use them to judge how they should influence our vote this year than perhaps we should take look at some of the recent highlights:
Leading from behind may be a clever-sounding phrase and yet remain a largely meaningless one. Leading means leading and when you are the leader of the greatest nation in the world, it depends on you to do so.
Perception in reality. How an event is perceived by the public (golf game, fund-raising event, beheading) is as important as how “real” that event actually is and treated accordingly.
Attempting to reach bipartisan solutions is much more difficult when the larger part of your rhetoric involves insulting your opposition and refusing to meet, let alone compromise with them.
Using cabinet level departments as political attack committees on opponents is not only fundamentally wrong, it’s unconstitutional.
Refusing to use words that have meaning in dangerous times serves neither language or your constituents. Doing so is normally little more than hiding from the truth until it bites you in the butt. Those with the job of guiding the nation can never afford such a luxury.
Briefings (especially ones about national security) are designed to keep the chief executive properly informed of world events by interaction with the best and brightest people whose job it is to focus on them. Refusing to participate during them more than half the time (especially during in periods of unrest like these) is not a demonstration of superior knowledge, but of rank foolishness and a failure to perform a basic duty of office.
An administration that gives news conferences on Fridays (the government’s take out the trash day’ is one that has something to hide.
Demonizing the money in politics while spending large amounts of time and effort in hotel ballrooms and grand homes seeking it with rich friends and associates may be something you’re good at and might even be politically expedient to your legacy, but will inevitably dilute even the best intentioned message on the subject.
As to your message, make sure that it’s a consistent theme, delivered confidently and persistently — lest recorded versions of your previous ones make you appear foolish and ill-prepared.
The higher the office you seek, the more important the willingness to do the job becomes. It’s not enough to be a successful competitor in seeking a position in politics; one must likewise be both willing and able to perform even the most frustrating and infuriating. The best political leaders may not have been the smartest ones seeking the position, but instead the ones willing and able to work hard at the job and grow into the needs that the times required.