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It Be Madness. But Is There Method in It?

David Frum thinks that there is method to the American madness in electing unknown governors to the presidency:

AEI - Short Publications: The American presidency is the supreme executive job on planet Earth. And American voters not unreasonably tend to demand executive experience from job applicants. If you look at the list of the winners of presidential elections since 1900, you'll notice that they tend to reach the job in very similar ways.

  1. They served as vice president to a popular president. (Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush.)
  2. They earned a record as a successful governor. (Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush.)
  3. They achieved some huge success in command of some vital mission for the United States. (William Howard Taft as the first governor general of America's new Philippine colony; Herbert Hoover as the chief administrator of the food program that saved millions in Europe from famine after the First World War; Dwight Eisenhower as commander in chief of the Allied forces in Europe in the Second World War)...

Of the last four, only Clinton used his gubernatorial skills to good effect in the presidency. (Carter and Bush are "disappointments," and what people who like Reagan like about Reagan has little to do with his tenure as the last social-democratic governor of California.) It's more likely--I think--that governors (a) have a base of people who like them to work for them, (b) have a base of people who like them to contribute money to them, and (c) don't yet have many enemies among the Washington press corps.

I'm less optimistic about the health of our current system.