It’s not often that I find that I agree with salon.com, a mostly leftist online magazine.
But I recently reread a piece that argues that American voters don’t want a wonk for president, but journalists do.
“Much political commentary and public debate seem to assume that the president is all powerful. But while the president proposes, Congress disposes. By strategic use of the veto power, a president can shape legislation—but only up to a point. A presidential candidate’s detailed policy positions are at best polite suggestions to the barons of the House and the grandees of the Senate, who will decide what does and does not become law,” Michael Lind wrote before the 2016 election.
That analysis appears particularly relevant as the media seem to cheer on Elizabeth Warren.
On the campaign trail, Warren often says, “I have a plan for that.” The slogan has turned into a T-shirt.
Warren has about 20 plans so far for making housing and child care affordable, forgiving college loans, tackling opioids, manufacturing green products, protecting public parks, and giving workers a role in selecting corporate board members.
Woodrow Wilson was probably the smartest president in history, with plans for this and plans for that. He also was one of the worst presidents in history.
Jimmy Carter was famous for his attention to detail. As a young reporter in Washington during the Carter years, I remember the story about the president trying to make sure his inbox was empty at the end of the day. That’s a noble goal. Again, however, Carter was a dreadful president.
It seems to me that Warren has traits from both Wilson and Carter. She strives to look at the big picture but gets caught up in the details.
I also find her recent pitches rather disingenuous. She’s made her mark as a policy wonk from Harvard for the past 20-plus years. But now she’s recounting her youth in Oklahoma and Texas. She’s touting her love for capitalism when she’s spent only a handful of years in the private sector.
Simply put, I think we need a leader as president, not a policy wonk.