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October 15, 2009


Funny, but if you back up a few years and replace Patraeus name with Obama, you wouldn't have to change a single word of your post.


Obama wasn't really a "biography candidate," Marty.

I don't doubt that Brendan is correct, but the system we've evolved into is not producing the best Presidential candidates. I think a President, as a minimum, should be honest, intelligent, experienced in managing large organizations, well-educated, experienced in government, knowledgeable in economics, foreign affairs, and military leadership. On account of Nixon, I would add that he should be sane.

No recent candidate has come close to meeting these standards. Unfortunately, with the federal government engaged in 2 wars and playing a large role in economics, they seem more important than ever.

Actually, when running for his second term, Clinton met these standards as did several other Presidents It's strange that we have a system of On-The-Job training for the most important job on the planet.

Daniel - I'm not really clear what the definition of a "biography" candidate.

If it means someone who has accomplished things in an arena other than politics, you are probably right that Obabma doesn't fit that bill.

Leaving that aside, I'll modify my comment to say that from the sentence "I don't think most people realize.. " the desscription could have easily been of Obama several years ago.

Particularly the last few lines :

"the reason these people are so widely respected is that they are seen as being above politics. That aura disappears very quickly once you become just another politician."


I apologize for commenting on an old post, but the Rush Limbaugh controversy perfectly illustrates Fox News Channel's contention that their success is a sign of their greater accuracy.

Recently CNN and MSNBC presented as fact some ugly, totaly false quotes saying that Limbaugh admired slavery, etc. AFAIK these stations haven't presented corrections and the kind of massive apology such a mistake should engender. Mistakes like this must have driven away conservative viewers as well as non-conservatives who care about fairness and accuracy. So, it correct to say that, to some degree, FNC has more viewers than CNN and MSNBC because of their greater accuracy.

I must admit that this is a low hurdle. Having greater accuracy than CNN and MSNBC doesn't take much doing. It doesn't prove that FNC is highly accurate on some absolute scale. Maybe a better way to put it is that CNN and MSNBC have fewer viewers than FNC because of their greater inaccuracy.

P.S. This incident also illustrates the bias of the national media, such as the New York Times. Their coverage of the controversy pretty much ignored the ugly slander. That's not how they'd behave if the shoe were on the other foot. E.g., suppose FNC presented as fact a false quote from Al Gore praising slavery and then refused to correct or apologize. I'm sure the national media would give prominent coverage to FNC's bad behavior.

On his radio show once, Rush Limbaugh read, in a very credible context, the evidence-free claim by some right-wing newsletter that Vincent Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hilary Clinton. To this day, Limbaugh has never apologized for airing this falsehood (the logical implication of which is that Mrs. Clinton had Mr. Foster murdered). So you're right, David, CNN and MSNBC should correct their Rush-Limbaugh-related factual errors against him and prove that they are more concerned with accuracy than, well, Rush Limbaugh.

MartyB, a biography candidate is someone who has a distinguished life history, but whose political views are often entirely unknown. Supporters typically project their own political views onto the candidate who can only fail to live up to most of expectations.

Petraeus obviously fits the bill (is he even a Republican? What are his views on tax policy, social issues, or fiscal policy?). Clark was likewise a blank slate not to mention a presumed Republican until after he retired from the military. And recently "Sully" Sullenberger ( the pilot who landed in the Hudson River ) was also recruited to run for office. These people are picked because partisans think they can swing an election based on biography alone (e.g. "Wouldn't if be great if Republicans had to run against a 4-star general?")

Obama doesn't fit the bill because his political views were well established even before his name was widely known.

What do we call a candidate whose political views are largely unknown and who doesn't have anything distinguished in his life history? Say it with me . . .

Well, Rob, Obama's "political views" as a candidate were largely known, and Obama-as-a-candidate did have things that are "distinguished in his life history" (author, law professor, state legislator), but otherwise, you're spot on.

daniel, I don't doubt that Rush Limbaugh has many inaccuracies. But, the topic of Brendan's post was Fox News, and whether they have more viewers than MSNBC and CNN because they're more accurate.

"daniel, I don't doubt that Rush Limbaugh has many uncorrected inaccuracies."

There, fixed that for you, David.

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