Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Congress of Peeps: Sestak and Wes Clark are First Tier

by Bernie Quigley – Daily Kos Diary – 3/20/07

Fred Thompson, movie star and former Senator from Tennessee informed us last week that he might run for President. You might have seen him in the movies lately or on Law and Order.

This is maybe – to paraphrase T.S. Eliot – the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a movie star who looks like a President actually running for President, and with a people so easily deceived and the tenacious will to self-governance which made us a free people in the first place worn so thin and threadbare, that we willingly select the mirage rather than the thing in itself.

There is no reason to think that Fred Thompson would not be a good President. Anything is possible in The Land of the Free. Here in New Hampshire most people liked Ronald Reagan, but he was Governor of California. But Thompson is not qualified to be President by his resume in the First Tier. Being a Senator does not qualify him to be President in the First Tier. Nor does being a movie star.

Being a Senator, like being a Supreme Court justice, should be an end in itself. It is a different task than Governor or President, which are indeed management jobs.

Senators discuss the different properties and aspects of issues and therefore advise the manager, and 20 years of doing it doesn’t make an advisor a good manager: It makes her or him a better advisor and Senator. In fact, according to the principles of Myers-Briggs, as you become increasingly better at being an advisor, you become increasingly worse at being a manager as each task uses opposite psychological functions (which might be why John McCain is such a poor manager).

If someone still felt unfulfilled after a career of Senator, s/he might try Chaired Professor. Both are "introverted" positions and go to rumination and thoughtfulness. President, like district manager of Walmart, CEO of Hathaway Industries or Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, are "extroverted" positions. They go to management and taking action. They live on different sides of the river: That is why Eisenhower can’t paint; that is why Picasso can’t tally his check book.

Until Eisenhower handed the reins over to John F. Kennedy, Senators were not usually considered to be in the First Tier of Presidential Potentials. But most today who are presenting themselves to us to be Presidential material - Dodd, Clinton, Biden, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Thompson and Brownback - are hoping to take the Senatorial route as a short cut to the Presidency and not focusing on their task at hand.

And the three front-running Democrats have so little time between them as Senators that together, they wouldn’t even reach the venerable level of one Robert C. Byrd. Or even the decent and highly respected level of a Jim Jeffords.

Perhaps this is why the discussion of the Iraq invasion was so tragically inadequate in the first place; this is why the waning Congress has been called A Congress of Peeps. John Edwards had barely found the bathrooms when he announced he would run for President.

Each has only entered the Senate as short-cut route to the Presidency. I was astonished a few months back as the current Panic Primary got underway when the most important Democratic fund raiser here in the North Country of New England who fully supports Senator Clinton, said she should wait a few months to enter to " . . . get some stuff done" in the Senate first. A Washington Post columnist made the same comment about Senator Obama.

That’s how you want to advise your kids if they want to be President: Get some stuff done first.

Governor of a teensy, unpopulated state or one reserved for retired people (like Vermont) is also a short cut. This does not rate in the First Tier either. There is nothing to suggest that a governor of a small or under-populated state would not be a good President. But again, it is a management thing and bigger is better. Governor Dean pioneered this approach in ’04 but he had no desire to actually be President, and was terrified when he got a boost from the web. He wanted to "make a point" I think, and was looking for a job.

Being an auntie of a former President or other relative does not qualify you to be President in the First Tier. Being of an ethnicity that has not yet been President does not necessarily prepare you for the Presidency. Being a movie star or a singer or a hockey player does not prepare you at all to be President, but there is nothing to indicate that these people would not be good Presidents.

According to tradition and lore, a First Tier candidate is a Governor of a state with more than say three million people in it (larger than say Arkansas, New Mexico or Vermont). That would be a state like Texas, New York, California or Massachusetts – widely considered to be "initiative" states. Another First Tier qualification is a military commander who has attained the rank of Admiral or General in the three-star area and has distinguished herself or himself in the management of a military campaign or in running a vast enterprise like the U. S. Army or NATO. Colin Powell, for example, would be First Tier.

In the current crop of Presidential contenders in both parties, only Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, is qualified in the First Tier.

There are other Democrats available who might be part of the public discussion as First Tier candidates but oddly enough are not in the race. Wesley Clark, who leads the Democrats in discussion of Iran, Iraq and foreign policy is a First Tier candidate and so is Joe Sestak.

Sestak, the new representative from Pennsylvania and a three-star Admiral, was shining on Meet the Press this past Sunday, speaking in opposition to neocon apparatchik Richard Pearle and right wing nut job Tom DeLay staging a comeback. Sestak, like Clark, was heavily supported by The Fighting Dems, Daily Kos and the web community and is representative of the new spirit which rose to Congress out of the '06 race, featuring new people with new ideas like Carol Shea-Porter of NH and Jim Webb of Virginia.

Sestak could well be the ascending leader of this new group; Wes Clark the cultural father.

Other First Tier candidates include Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, John Lynch, Governor of New Hampshire, Mike Easley, Governor of North Carolina.

There are many others but the MSM has not expressed much interest in these people who constitute today a Best and Brightest listing of the Democratic Party. Nor has the Democratic Party expressed much interest in them.

Lincoln called us to a "standard maxim." Today, in American Idol fashion, we seem to be seeking instead a "standard minimum."

Perhaps it is not too late. There is still a year to go and marketing in the real world doesn’t start until September, its arc rising to Thanksgiving. Maybe First Tier will arise then. Maybe we can draft new people into the race when the leadership crisis is more acutely felt.

Recently, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has written that the misbegotten invasion of Iraq could open to a 20-year conflagration sending America alone into a maelstrom.

But it is only a side bar to our real problems; the rise of China and the East as economic champions in an economic awakening akin to that which occurred in New England, New York and England in the 1840s, but multiplied by ten; an economic turning which could turn Americans into subsistence farmers and economic colonists virtually overnight. Already, the uber-rich and Jim Webb’s Wall St. Robber Barons are bailing, either to the new high-rise economy of Dubai or to Hong Kong. (Much as they fled New York and New England for the Texas oil fields 80 to 100 years ago.)

Only a First Tier candidate is capable of handling these situations. To date, the Democratic candidates are in denial of the Iraq issue as they are all culpable, and are oblivious to the second.

I would add another category to Presidential Contenders: Anomalies and Phenomenon. They appear in periods of change, and perhaps we are there now.

That would be people with a few billion bucks like Warren Buffett, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump. All three have shown interest in a party run either in support of a unique, new candidate or in support of a new political party.

Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, has clearly stated that if this Presidential race descends into mischief, and there are indications that it is doing so, he will put up a half billion of his own money to run a third candidate in March of next year. And Buffet has appeared as a primary supporter of Arnold Schwarzenegger, agent of "post partisan" politics.

The panic we are seeing in the early race - the millions of dollars sent to candidates whose generation and influence has passed and the press’s obsession with novelty - may be a symptom of an end game of partisan politics as we have come to understand it in the post-war period. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party may have both reached their limits. By any corporate marketing standards, there is opening now for new products. Perhaps what we are seeing is the end of the old parties and the rise of something new. We will find out in 2008.

I would like to see Joe Sestak and/or Wes Clark seriously consider entering the Presidential Race in ‘08. In September maybe, when the current crop of entertainers are finishing their summer rerun season. The presence of Clark and Sestak in the race may call in more First Tier candidates in both parties, and that will be good for the country.

It is the Brute awakened in the Republican Party that has fostered the barbaric initiatives that have shamed our country in recent years, like the repeal of habeas corpus, the recommendation of advanced torture strategies and the disgrace at Abu Ghraib. But that Brute has been consistently appeased by the submissive and accomidating Congress of Peeps – particularly in the Senate: A few of whom have shown themselves to be so astonishingly detached from their actions in enabling the Brute that they intend now to run for President.

Perhaps it is only a man of honor and ability of the caliber of Clark or Sestak who can retrieve us.


Anonymous said...

Our current President was a first-tier candidate for President. Was he a first-tier candidate for Governor of Texas?

Bernie Quigley said...

Yes. In Texas, Lieutenent Gov. is actually "chief executive." Nevertheless, it just shows; there are no guarantees.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Wes Clark is a tower of intellect, experience, leadership and organization. He clearly does not see people as expendable. I believe he could bring out the best in all of us individually and as a country.

Anonymous said...


They called themselves the Neocons,
Able "to sleep and feed at once,"
While hardly batting unto us
An eye--like Hippopotamus.

How they despised us as the rabble
Because our struggling lives hardscrabble,
While greater duties they deferred--
"Serve in the army? How absurd!"

Nor did they have to pay much tax,
But made us pay to wreck Iraq´s
Structure and culture; while, as tumble
The stocks, our bridges too which crumble.

The "bridges to prosperity"
Have reached dead ends for you and me,
While oil-and-munitions mavens
Hurt not (although they sure are cravens).

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