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Romney Gives Obama Good Advice

Midway through his tour of the nation’s swing states, Mitt Romney gave President Obama a somewhat odd, and untimely, piece of advice. Rather than launching his presidential campaign from the Senate, Romney argued, “governor may have been a better job for him to have started with,” Yahoo News reports.

Obama won’t thank him for this advice, and it is too late to take it now anyway, but Romney is right. President Obama would have been a much more effective president if he had first served as a governor.

This is a fairly obvious observation, yet one which is seldom discussed. The need for executive, managerial experience in the Oval Office is huge, and while governing a single state, even a large one like Ronald Reagan’s California, may be very different from leading the world’s most powerful county, the skills that make an effective governor are the same as those that make an effective president. Governors and generals historically have often made very good presidents precisely because they have learned to manage large organizations and complete complex tasks in intensely political situations.

Senators, on the other hand, just learn how to flap their lips, have their egos groomed by ambitious aides, beg rich people for money and posture fetchingly on popular issues.

Via Meadia has not endorsed anybody for 2012 and at this point both Governor Romney and President Obama have some executive experience behind them, but we hope that in future election years primary voters in both parties will bear in mind that when electing a president we are choosing a chief executive, not head speechwriter or grand national windbag.

Ronald Reagan, FDR, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson all served as governor of a state before becoming president, while Washington and Eisenhower had served as generals. The list of former senators in the Oval Office is considerably less impressive. Whether they are GOP or Democrat, liberal or conservative, the best presidents are usually people who know how to get things done.

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  • Hubbub

    “Via Meadia has not endorsed anybody for 2012 …”
    And, it’s not necessary for you to do so. Let your readers arrive at their own endorsements without you being so bold and impertinent as to think your endorsement will push such strongly opinionated readers who visit this site to one side or the other. In fact, I find it offensive when political magazines like NR and WS advocate for one candidate or another. Give me the facts and your opinion and I can make up my own mind.

  • Adam Taylor

    The painful truth, perhaps. I’m still of the opinion that his accomplishments merit another four years to pick up the pace – and his most recent speech shows that he certainly knows how to play politics.

    …speaking of the immigration speech, he certainly loses a deal of grace when he goes off prompter, he’ll need to work on that one too…

  • ddh

    In light of President Obama’s demonstrated inability to learn from setbacks or change course, it seems more likely that a Governor Obama would have disqualified himself from being considered presidential timber. The country would have been better off, even if he would not have been.

  • The Reticulator

    Remember in 2008 when people were saying, “He does too have executive experience. He’s managing a big campaign.”

    I wonder whatever became of those people.

  • JKB

    Wouldn’t have worked. Obama would have been governor of Illinois, a job that usually ends at sentencing.

  • Charles R. Williams

    But Joe Biden has so much experience in foreign policy.

  • Susan

    “best presidents are usually people who know how to get things done.”

    This may be an invention of the Blue Model, expecting Presidents to get things done. This foreign idea has reached the point where a majority of citizens now believe the President’s job is to create jobs for Americans; this is Serfdom.

    Revolunary ideals lost:

    “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.” (Calvin Coolidge)

    “Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” (Ronald Reagan)

    We deserve the government we elect and we have elected the road to [a bad place].

  • Eurydice

    One can gain experience by being a governor, but that doesn’t necessarily make one a good governor. There’s a talent to it, and I don’t think Obama has it.

    On the other hand, being a good senator is more than just flapping one’s lips and posturing for the press. A good, experienced Senator knows how to negotiate, knows how to form coalitions, understands national policies – not to mention knowing where the bodies are buried. Unfortunately, Obama wasn’t a senator long enough to develop any of these strengths.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Eurydice: being a good senator, yes. Lyndon Johnson, whatever one thinks of his policies, learned plenty about governing in the Senate. But many Senators don’t get much done other than bringing home some bacon, and often there isn’t much pressure on them to do more.

  • ms

    In general I agree that presidents should be governors first, but that did not seem to be a big help to Jimmy Carter.

  • Rick Caird

    I, too, wish Obama had been a Governor first. With his inability to actually govern or work with the legislature, he would have been an abject failure there, too, and would never have attempted the Presidency. We all would have been better off if that had been the case.

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