Sunday, June 24, 2007

Likeability In Presidential Politics

Roger Simon of Politico is a sane, sober political analyst, and usually right.

Not today. On NBC's Meet the Press, Simon today stated "The calculation in the Clinton campaign is that after eight years of George Bush, the American people want competence this time, not likability. And competence and strength is what's going to win in 2008, not who you want to go to the bar and have a beer with." Yet in 1988 a Democratic governor of Massachusetts declared in his acceptance speech (see "A New Era is About to Begin") "But this election isn't about ideology. It's about competence."

But when the vote came in, Michael Dukakis had lost to George Herbert Walker Bush. And the latter's son in 2000 defeated Al Gore (though not in the national popular vote) and, more importantly, in 2004 defeated John Kerry, when evidence of the incompetence of George W. Bush already was evident. The American people want a President whom they like, and with whom they are comfortable. Witness the recent Sopranos-like commercial rolling out the H. Clinton campaign song, an ad hailed everywhere for presenting a likeable "small-town girl." The Clinton campaign advisers realize that their candidate's weakness remains the "ick" factor- just not someone you're comfortable seeing on the 6:00 news (or cable news, or youtube, or anywhere) every day for the next four years.

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