What makes a good president?
Leadership. Confidence. Eloquent communication. Organizational skill. Clear Vision. Ability to compromise. Commitment to Integrity. Political experience...
Hold the phone there...
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, experience may actually be a liability to a presidential candidate. A recent New York Times article exposes how this is exemplified in Rick Santorum's campaign for the Republican nomination. Michael Shear reports that while Santorum has attempted to run on the basis of his 16-year Congressional career, his congressional track-record is now being used to portray him as an inconsistent “a creature of insider politics” who does not really uphold conservative values.
Shear neatly points out that this sort of mudslinging is very common when congresspersons run for office. While it would seem logical that legislators would want to run on their congressional record, proving their experience and know-how, it also opens them up to an intense amount of criticism. As Shear notes:
For every vote that becomes an effective campaign talking point, there is another that threatens to lead a candidate into explanations requiring awkward, process-laden Senate-speak. And those votes often cast a spotlight on the messy compromises and partisan accommodations that are a regular but despised part of the legislative process in Washington.
One sees, then, that there is a catch-22 to running for presidential office. One needs experience, of course, to run for such an essential position. However, the more experience one has in the spotlight of our nation's Congress, the more likely one is to have exposed oneself to liability. That liability could be a compromise on health care, supporting an issue which earned political enemies, or voting for a bill that contained a substance-less earmark (remember that Bridge to Nowhere?), but, regardless, it could cost just enough votes to lose the election.