Peggy Noonan writes an interesting view in the Wall Street Journal- A Caveman Won’t Beat a Salesman, 11/18/11
She begins with an excerpt from the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs where Jobs noted that many companies fail when they value salesmen more than engineers. Instead of focusing on great products they focused how to sell.
The theory applies also to our politics. America is in political decline in part because we’ve elevated salesmen—people good on the hustings and good in the room, facile creatures with good people skills—above people who love the product, which is sound and coherent government—”good government,” as they used to say. To make that product you need a certain depth of experience. You need to know the facts, the history, how the system works, what the people want, what the moment demands.
She uses the analogy to criticize Herman Cain and other Republicans who clearly do not grasp critical elements needed for the job. I like Herman Cain as a fresh nonpolitical face with experience outside of the beltway, but politics, like any profession, requires experience and knowledge to get results. Just because experienced politicians have led us down many misguided paths does not mean that political and policy experience is unimportant. Just because the educated created many problems does not mean that the ignorant can solve them.
It takes a sense of depth to understand why the right principles are correct. Catchy phrases and sound bites will not stand up to the scrutiny the campaign requires.
Obama was successful at promising hope and change without defining it. But that is salesmanship, not governing. A good candidate has clear principles and communicates them well because he has thought them through over years of study and experience.
As we vet and try our next president, it is not a debating contest and it not a marketing project. We want a quality product- good government. When a product is great you do not need a creative orgy to sell it; a good product sells itself.
Often a product is defined as much by what it is not as by what it is. Since government has taken on so many roles, and sought to address so many problems perhaps that is the best place to start.