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The Post Gets Bush Wrong Again

I can’t resist commenting on yesterday’s Washington Post Outlook story titled, Stop the Campaigning The Bush White House Is in Trouble Because of Its Disdain for Governing.

The story makes the argument that Bush is a great campaigner, but not interested in actually governing. That’s a very interesting premise, but they got a lot of it all wrong.

First of all, despite popular belief, there is a correlation between being a good campaigner and being a good leader. Often, when conservative candidates lose (because they ran a lousy campaign), I comfort myself in knowing campaigns are self-selecting. In other words, people who would be lazy, incompetent, or ineffective leaders, usually lose because they don’t run good campaigns. The notion that campaigning and governing are mutually exclusive is an insult.

… The article also points out that Ford, Carter, and Bush 41 were all more comfortable with governing than with campaigning (while Reagan and Clinton were good campaigners). I will debate anyone who wants to argue that either Ford, Carter, or 41 were better at governing than Reagan.

The other fallacy this article perpetuates is that Bush has done a great job with PR — yet he still has problems (because governing is what really counts). The truth is that Bush has not been a good "campaigner" these last couple of months – and that is the real problem.

Bush should have been in New Orleans sooner after the Katrina Hurricane. If he had been, his so-called “photo-ops” would have been viewed as leadership. Also, nominating Miers to the Supreme Court was as much a PR mistake as it was a governing mistake. Politics 101 teaches you that, "you’ve got to dance with the one that brung’ ya." He didn’t.  This is a thought-provoking argument that ultimately falls flat.  Don’t let them fool you: Governing is campaigning by different means.

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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