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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rational v Emotional

As a committed rationalist, I was fascinated by John Dickerson's discussion of emotionality (although the link to fascism was more than tenuous) v rationality in his analysis of why Obama is leading the field. (link) If you are going to suggest that we need to pick out candidates less on emotional grounds than rational, you need to define your criteria. What standards are you going to use to make the rational decision. Let's face it, there are only a few to go on and they will depend on what you want in a leader, then you can decide whether experience is important in making a judgment. There are only three kinds of measures for a president with regard to experience: legislative, executive, judicial. Obama has little experience on all three and that's why representative Watson had trouble coming up with something. I would argue all of these are irrelevant. A fourth measure is less tangible and relates more to the emotional/charismatic side of the debate, and that's the ability to create consensus and majorities from disparate groups, e.g., the Congress. That's where Obama shines. It was more than apparent in his work in the Illinois legislature (I live in Illinois) and his current Senate colleagues have noted it as well. This skill often requires the sublimation of one's own desire for recognition in an effort to reach a higher goal. This is where the vision and the charisma are so important. That's what Obama has tapped in to. Hillary has the same policies but lacks the ability to bring people together (not to mention her particular albatross: Bill.)
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