25 February 2008

Scorecard For The Next President

This is from an article in the Seattle times--I like it and gives people a good perspective on the candidates.

Here is the scorecard so far:

MANAGE: Obama raised the most money, spent it wisely and had a plan in place for a long fight after the Feb. 5 national primary. Clinton burned through her cash, underestimated her rival's appeal, valued loyalty over competence in her staff and had no Plan B after failing to seal the nomination on Super Tuesday. If McCain is destined to run the country the way he managed his campaign as the early front-runner, let's start drafting impeachment papers now. Advantage goes to Obama.

INSPIRE: Obama's eloquence and timely message of hope is breaking turnout records. McCain's war-hero biography and passion for causes greater than self-interest could tap the nation's service-hungry spirit. Clinton is at her best in those rare moments when she shows vulnerability; many women see themselves in her fight to shatter a glass ceiling. Big advantage to Obama.

CRISIS CONTROL: Faced with financial and political difficulties of his own making, McCain overhauled his staff, his message and his political strategy to mount an improbable comeback. Clinton recovered quickly from a thumping in Iowa, but loses marks for putting the brakes on necessary changes after a surprise victory in New Hampshire. How he responds to crises is one of the many things we don't know about Obama, a charmed politician whose rise was met with little resistance. We know that McCain (a former prisoner of war) and Clinton (a former first lady with a wayward spouse) faced hard times in their lives and careers, but what is Obama's greatest moment of crisis? "The rocky periods during my youth ... ," says Obama, who has acknowledged using drugs as a youth. Advantage: McCain in an easy call.

TEMPERMENT: Clinton is a cool customer, rarely caught off guard or out of sorts. With one exception (her response to a question about drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants), the New York senator handled the pressure-cooker debates with aplomb _ displaying both a knowledge of policy and an unbridled enthusiasm about the prospect of implementing them. Obama's self confidence crossed the line to arrogance more than once and his teeth-gritting response to criticism belied a dangerously thin skin. McCain has a notable temper, but has kept it under wraps and seems to love mixing it up with pesky voters. Advantage Clinton.

POST-PARTISAN: Obama has a solid record in Illinois of crossing party lines to get things done, and he talks about post-partisan politics in a way that convinces voters that problem-solving is possible. Clinton is one of the most divisive politicians of her generation, a fact that can't be mitigated by a few bills co-sponsored by GOP senators. McCain is a steady conservative who is willing to work with Democrats toward meaningful compromise. Advantage McCain, with credit for longevity.

AUTHENTICITY: Obama and McCain are relatively straight-shooters, but the key word is "relatively." Each has damaged their reputations. For all his talk about bold change, Obama's record has traces of politics as usual: He backtracked on a pledge to abide by spending caps, borrowed lines from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick without attribution and accepted donations from Illinois lobbyists. McCain pandered to conservatives, flip-flopped on President Bush's tax cuts and is now faces accusations that his own advisers feared he was too cozy with a lobbyist in 2000. They are both comfortable in their own skins. Exit polls suggest that voters see Clinton as almost anything other than authentic. Advantage: McCain and Obama, with the possibility of a tiebreaker in November.

INTANGIBLES: The records, the biographies, the policies, the qualities _ all of these are important, but we don't select presidents based on checklists and scorecards. Is Obama ready to be president? Will Clinton's husband, Bill, stay out of trouble? Will McCain's age catch up to him? Will terrorists strike U.S. soil again?

For all we think and hope a campaign reveals, it's the things we don't know _ and can't predict _ that will ultimately determine the fate of the next president. So you might as well go with your gut.

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