Thingish Things


Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Dec• 09•11

In the days of a President Obama and a surging (for now) Newt Gingrich, one can’t help but yearn for the early years of the republic when presidential candidates did not campaign for themselves, when others extolled the candidates’ public virtues in their behalf. 

Face it, Barack Obama was elected president because he was imbued with the gift of a velvet tongue. And Newt Gingrich is leading the GOP field because he has mastered the art of verbal sparring. But what would others convincingly say about these two that would propel either to the White House?

President Obama attained academic success at Harvard and spent a short time in the Illinois State Senate, but he left no mark on the public record. All he did was impress others with his oratorical skills. There is nothing in his background that would suggest potential to be a good president, and he has not been one.

Congressman Gingrich is more accomplished on paper. He served as House Speaker, which gives him experience relative the position of president. But he squandered that opportunity and was turned out by members of his own party. That suggests he is temperamentally unsuited to the job. Gingrich had his moment of power and he didn’t know how to use it. He has proven to be a poor leader, yet we are considering making him our top leader because he is a practiced rhetorician. Seems pretty dumb.

Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John Huntsman,  Mitch Daniels, and Tim Pawlenty would probably all make better presidents than President Obama or Newt Gingrich — if their resumes were the sole consideration for the job. But they are not as good speakers or debaters as the President and former speaker. There are so many accomplished executives in America who could ably serve as president, but 99% of them — where have we heard that percentage before? — would probably refuse to endure the process of campaigning as it is done today. But everything in their personal and professional backgrounds would suggest supreme leadership qualities. 

The counterargument, of course, is that we once got Abraham Lincoln who managed to back up his verbal prowess with action and honor. But Messrs. Obama and Gingrich could never be confused with our sixteenth president.

We live in the days of mass media where the best talker wins. But is that really the chief quality we need in the White House? 

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