Thursday, December 01, 2011

On The Skills of Getting Elected Vs. Governing

Atrios commented on this article about Martha Coakley, the woman who, according to some, campaigned so badly that she lost Ted Kennedy's Senate sheet to the Republican Scott Brown. I'm not so sure that Coakley's campaigning ability was the only reason, given that Massachusetts has never (never!) sent a woman to the US Senate.

But whatever. The point I wanted to make in this context is this: A politician's ability to get elected may have little or no correlation with that politician's ability to do the actual job well.

Telegenic applicants do well. Applicants who look like someone you'd like to get drunk with do well. Applicants who speak well do well. Applicants who understand the mass psychology of politics do well. None of those test the applicants' ability to govern.

Sure, we learn some things during the long and tedious process of election campaigning, and of course there are politicians who both campaign well and govern well. But campaigning skills are getting ever more separate from governing skills.

That may be why I find the horse-race reporting of the Republican presidential candidates' performance so very boring.