From Andrew Sullivan, a reader posts about Hilary Clinton:
She reflects the most cynical aspect of politics, politics stripped of even the hint of vision. She is the sum total of her calculations, and a prickly and defensive sum total at that. I don't doubt that she is competent in the narrowest sense of the word. But she isn't a leader. We are desperate in our need for leaders right now.
This isn't about Hilary, she just happens to be the subject of the reader's email. And for the record, I think Clinton's position on Iraq has been exactly wrong.
But as I said, this isn't about Clinton, it's about Sullivan's reflexive impulse that how competent or right someone is, is irrelevant. All that matters is that they are "A Leader".
I call bullshit.
If the last seven years have taught us anything, it's that policies do matter. Actions have consequences, and it's not enough to have someone running your country who's fun to have a beer with.
I am coming to the conclusion that there are two types of voters in America, on both the right and the left. One group simply wants someone who's "A Leader". These people don't particularly care how competent the person is, whether they've been right or wrong on various issues, or even what they think about policies. They just want someone to "lead". You've seen it for seven years with the more rabid Bush supporters on the right, and we're getting a healthy dose of it from the left with the almost fan-boy adulation of Barak Obama before anyone has a clear idea just what the hell he wants to do as a politician.
The other group cares very much about policy, about positions, about whether the person in question has been right or wrong on substantive issues. These people care less about how affable or handsome or charismatic the politician is, and more about what they actually do with the power they have.
This is played out in the punditocracy as well, as Radar Online illustrates so effectively. Conservative commentators like William S. Lind, who were right about the consequences of invading Iraq, are marginalized for the likes of the liberal Tom Friedman, who has been as wrong as wrong can be and yet keeps getting pay raises and promotions.
What matters isn't being right, what matters is how good you look while you're being wrong. And that's bad for America, no matter what side of the aisle you sit on. Until we get over this obsession with who's telling us what to do, and start paying attention to what they're telling us to do, we're in for a lot more heartache and disaster.