Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Senator to President - Not! 

Yesterday Senate Republicans passed an amendment to a defense bill calling for 2006 to "'be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty,' with Iraqi forces taking the lead in providing security to create the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces," and requesting the Administration to report quarterly on progress toward that end.

The nonbinding amendment was much weaker than a competing Democrat-sponsored one, which was easily defeated in a floor vote. Also, there's nothing like the amendment in the House version of the defense bill. This is the good news.

The bad news is that the Republicans felt that they had to do anything at all in regard to the conduct of the Iraq war. The last thing this country needs is micromanagement of a war by a bunch of legislators. Talk about armchair generals! Sheesh!

But to get to the point expressed in the title, this kind of thing is the reason I regard a presidential candidate's status as a Senator as almost a disqualifier. The jobs are nothing alike. Presidents lead, execute, select subordinates, take heat for their decisions, and the good ones have the courage to stick to their guns unless and until situational change (other than political and media pressure) calls for different action. Senators, on the other hand, debate, argue, ponder, horse trade, compromise, and point fingers (usually at the President). The very qualities that make for a successful career in the Senate are those that would make for a disastrous term as President. As a result, when any Senator announces his or her candidacy for President, I start out with a negative view of the candidate.

Mitigating factors, for me, are (a) the candidate served successfully as an elected executive such as governor or mayor of one of the larger cities in America, or as a four-star military officer and (b) the length of service in the senate is not more than two terms. The first factor demonstrates ability and experience as the top dog in a political arena, and the second factor marks the difference, in my mind, between being in the Senate and of the Senate. Someone who is of the Senate has, in my thinking, experienced a conversion akin to finding religion which overshadows any previous executive experience.

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