27 October 2004, 3:10 PM
About a year and a quarter ago, Your Humble Blogger wrote this note about John Kerry. At the time, I was looking at the Democratic candidates and trying to ascertain not what kind of candidates they would be, but what kind of presidents. I did a little research, mostly newspaper archives and web stuff, and ripped through nine candidates in about six weeks. In my spare time. I lived in Massachusetts at the time, so I knew Senator Kerry better than I did most of the others, but it was still quick and dirty.
So, fifteen months later, do I know any more about what a John Kerry administration would be like? I do not. Have I discovered how wrong I was in my brief and amateurish research? No. I blame the media; I know I don’t read as much as I might, but these questions are important, and at some point we should be talking about them. At some point before the election.
The questions were pretty much these: What are John Kerry’s priorities, that is, where will he choose to spend his political capital? How well can he get people of differing ideas to work together? How well would he work with the Legislature? How would he run the Executive? What sorts of people (and which people) would he surround himself with? How would he work with the Judiciary, and how would he likely handle appointments there? What would he be like day-to-day, and what would he be like in a crisis?
I understand that these are speculative questions, and I understand that in journalism, speculation is tricky. I understand also that the horse-race is fascinating to journalists and to subscribers. I also understand that all of the above questions would need to be addressed in addition to the policy differences of the two candidates, which are evidently difficult enough to report on. But come on, guys! This isn’t rocket psychiatry. The presidency is a job; we know, for the most part, what the job entails, and it’s pretty simple to extrapolate from that to the questions I wrote. Can we at least ask them?