Let’s Hope America’s Voters Don’t Get Silly

We must hope that US voters don’t follow in Australia’s footsteps and elect a lightweight to govern them – that could prove fatal for us all.

The great strength of the American polity is its scope for grooming potential presidents by having them run states – some of which are bigger than, richer than, and more powerful than, any European state.

Managerial competence appears in many forms – from Roosevelt to Reagan, from Churchill to Thatcher. But, whatever its form, it’s a essential for a successful president, since without it nothing can be achieved.

For a scary lesson, Americans can look at the poor Brits, who after over a decade of managerially incompetent leaders have experienced constant tax raises, military downsizing, uncontrolled immigration, appeasement of enemies, loss of civil liberty, and (in Ireland) defeat.

None of the Democratic runners has managerial experience, so offer America the Brit experience.

The Republicans are in better shape. Romney and Huckabee have run states, and Giuliani has run a very large city.

Of these three, Romney is the most experienced – he’s run successful businesses, turned round the Winter Olympics, and of course governed the State of Massachusetts. He’s probably the best leader for a nation facing grave threats from Islam, Russia, China, and uncontrolled immigration.

But Bush’s low ratings and Obama’s rise suggest US voters are tired of dealing with the nasty real world, and may go the Australian route and elect a lightweight.

There are good signs – Iowa Dems rejection of the inexperienced and mildly crooked Hillary Clinton shows remarkable good sense. And Ohio Republicans made governors their top choices.

Still, it’s going to be a long, cold Spring.


11 Responses to Let’s Hope America’s Voters Don’t Get Silly

  1. dearieme says:

    If the Roosevelt that you refer to is FDR, what on earth is your evidence that he was competent?

  2. gandalf says:


    Yup FDR.

    Without his support to the British before Pearl Harbor, we’d probably be having this conversation in German (or more likely not at all).

    He was an effective hands hands-off manager – here’s a snip from today’s YNet:

    In 1943…America produced about a million and a half vehicles. Towards the end of that year, President Roosevelt called all automobile producers and told them that he wants them to join the war effort and start producing battleships and aircraft.

    This wasn’t even an order; he merely explained to them that this is what their country expected of them. Do you know how many vehicles were produced by the US in 1944? A total of 147.

    Of course the New Deal was a disaster, but a well manged one.

  3. gandalf says:


    PS, in the year following 1943, the US built 100 aircraft carriers!

    (This from Nemesis by Max Hastings, excellent on the last 2 years of the Battle for Japan).

  4. dearieme says:

    I don’t doubt that the US managed miracles of production, but it seems a bit exotic to attribute that to managerial competence by FDR. “The Making of the Atom Bomb” by Richard Rhodes highlights the incompetence of FDR’s government as the British tried to persuade him of the importance of building a bomb. Eventually they recruited Einstein as an agent to try to get his attention. (Wonderful book, by the way.)

  5. gandalf says:


    Yes, i bought the book on your recommendation & it’s excellent. The follow up on the H Bomb (Dark Sun) is great too, although it’s technically weaker.


    Of course all people are flawed, but I chose the example because it illustrates a professional performing the hardest & yet most essential management task – getting powerful groups to change course. That’s a rare skill.

  6. dearieme says:

    Oh dear, I’ve started to repeat myself, then. Perhaps it’s time I stopped commenting. But I can’t bear golf.

  7. gandalf says:


    Aargh…anything but golf!

    And I do accept your essential point that the ability to execute well is useless if the direction chosen is wrong (e.g. FDR’s economics, his support of the murderous Chinese Nats as “people like us”, and his selling half of Europe into Communist slavery).

    From which it follows that the American people (and us) are best served by a leader who:
    1. Has chosen the correct direction, and
    2. Can execute it.

    Failing which an Carter/Clinton/Brown/Blair style incompetent is the best outcome since they will do limited damage.

  8. dearieme says:

    I can’t remember Truman, but I do remember Ike, so I can remember 10 US Presidents. I’d have said that the obvious successes were Ike and Reagan. Is 20% a decent score? I suppose it is.

  9. gandalf says:


    20% has some precedent – I seem to recall Gibbon says only one in 5 of Rome’s Emperors was any good.

  10. Rastaman says:

    Hate to break up your little tete a’ tete but… back to Hillary Clinton, the comment that she’s inexperienced is incorrect. She was deeply involved in 8 years of presidential decisions besides her time spent both as a senator and before with Bill in the governors mansion. She’s been in government for a very long time. Beyond that, she’s a hawk. She would probably make a better Republican than most Republicans.

    That she’s at least a little crooked is undeniable. Exactly like all the other politicians, who are all at least a little crooked.

    Not that she’s my personal pick. In truth, I don’t like any of them. I like Obama, Huckabee and Romney the least, and since you seem to like Romney may I point out that his financial successes were gained at the expense of employees, who lost jobs or else had benefits slashed. Romney is all about Romney and will walk all over the American people. Worse, he’s a religious fanatic the same as Huckabee.

    Obama is a racist. He surrounds himself with blacks and if the worst happened and he was elected, the White House would become the Black House with blacks running all phases of our government. Since they’re only a 12% minority in the U.S., and he’s a Liberal Lefty, the welfare excesses granted to them now will look like a pittance compared to the largesse of dole with him behind it.

  11. gandalf says:


    I’d argue that the ideal president has to be brave, good at execution, and good at choosing the right direction.

    Of the Republicans, McCain is by far the bravest, but weak in the other two areas.

    Giuliani is not a coward, has administrative competence, but you have to distrust his judgment after 3 marriages.

    I’m not sure Romney’s religion or management style disqualify him – few presidents are nice guys – so I’m looking to see how well he fights and what policies he proposes.

    The rest of the Republicans seem to me without merit.

    As for the Democrats, Obama is a newbie, and the few policies he has proposed, notably retreat from Iraq in 10 months, seem to me to be positively mad. Interesting to hear about his black – centricity. Anyway that’s probably academic since I’m sure Mrs C and Bill will nuke him over the coming months, just on a point of principle.

    As for Mrs C, she’s been involved but not committed. You probbaly know the a old management joke about the difference between Commitment and Involvement – the hen was involved with your breakfast, whereas the pig was committed. I see Mrs C as a hen.

    Anyway, other than Mrs C all the rest of the Dems seem without merit.

    Probably the least bad outcome would be McCain – his heart is in the right place, and he wouldn’t be able to execute his nuttier policies.

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