Julian Zelizer: Why Shouldn't a President Be a Good Politician?





Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" (Times Books) and of the new book "Governing America" (Princeton University Press).

Nobody likes politicians.

Ever since Jimmy Carter won his way to the White House in 1976 by assuring voters that they could trust him in contrast to the more experienced opponents he faced, both Republican and Democratic candidates have tended to boast about every part of their resume that can distinguish themselves from the Washington status quo....

This year, the story is the same. Although President Obama is boasting of his accomplishments in the White House as the nation's leader, he is also using Congress as a foil to lambaste the way that the "real" insiders in the capital do their business. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have tried to transform themselves from pillars of the congressional Republican establishment into conservative mavericks, while front-runner Mitt Romney talks frequently about how he would bring the skills of a CEO to Washington.

The problem is that doing well in Washington requires a very different kind of skill set than the ones that business executives or mavericks bring to the table. Each of these claims is flawed -- as Obama himself discovered -- given the world in which presidents must operate....



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