Today’s blog post is at the Washington Post online site as part of their Leadership discussion roundtable. Today’s topic: Is Herman Cain qualified to be president? As you’ll see (click the Washington post link above), while I’m skeptical that Cain’s background as CEO prepares him to be President, I can’t think of any position that does. As I note in the post, history does not indicate that any particular profession best prepares one to be President. Some of our most experienced politicians – think Nixon or Lyndon Johnson in recent years – turned out to have flawed presidencies. Meanwhile, that noted political “amateur” Dwight David Eisenhower, did ok. (Of course, even though he wasn’t a politician, one could argue that Ike developed formidable political skills in his leadership positions.) But experience alone isn’t a guarantee of success nor inexperience a sure road to failure. Instead, I think we need to look at a candidate’s values, core convictions and ideology and ask, do they fit with the times? Sometimes inexperience may be desirable if we are looking for a new direction in policies and politics. But we should pay more attention, I think, to what a president believes, and why, and less to the candidate’s resume.
Of course, even here we can be led astray. As I note in the post, one of the major ironies of the Obama presidency is that his major accomplishments have come in foreign affairs, an area in which he has hewed most closely to the precedents laid down by George W. Bush. Indeed, rather than the President of Change, he may go down as the President of Continuity, at least in foreign policy. I’ll have more to say on that in a subsequent post. In the meantime, take a look at the Post discussion.