McCain Visceral; Obama Nuance
Following Saddleback, much of the punditry has been playing on this distinction of an intellectual Obama and a gut punching McCain; with a spin that prefers the “nuance” of Obama. Here’s an example by Sally Quinn in the Washington Post. The point is not to comment on Quinn’s post directly but to comment on spin that Adali Stevenson II intellectualism is the preferred fit to the White House.
But the point missed is that the president is an executive who’s job is to make decisions. You hire staffs of advisors and wonks to do the necessary intellectual massaging. What is so admired in Obama’s long-winded answers points to a man unable to make decisions. Nuance has some other synonyms. Intellectual masturabtion. Chasing your tail. Having your cake and eating it too. Dithering.
And, on the other hand, there are many capable people who can see to a clear cut answer with out endless verbalizations of how to get to that answer. Yes, back in high school you had to show your work in arriving at an answer in algebra class. But, there are people who can see the answer immediately without the intermediate steps. Chief executives are not paid to show their work, but to see the options and decide.
It is the executive’s job to take this data and recommendations and to distill it into very crisp and direct orders. And, much of the executive’s job is a brutal distillation down to and choice between two options. Yea or Nay. Sign the bill or veto. Evacuate off Dunkirk in a bleak hope of winning a war or suing for peace with the Nazis. Watching Hussein acquire nuclear weapons or bombing the reactor at Orsik. Sitting at a crossroads of history and making a choice between a bad alternative and a worse alternative; and trying to know which is which is which.
P.S.: There’s no pay grade above President of the United States.