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What makes a great politician?
12-18-2017, 01:39 AM
Post: #1
What makes a great politician?
What are the strengths that make a politician great?
It would be useful if people could give 1 or 2 or ... even 5 strengths.


I suggest that you dont restrict yourself to Lincoln. Thats why I put this thread in Other. Maybe we could in another thread identify his strengths ... and weaknesses or rate him against the identified 'great' politician's strengths.
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12-18-2017, 09:13 AM
Post: #2
RE: What makes a great politician?
Would that help?
http://rogerjnorton.com/LincolnDiscussio...l#pid20736
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12-18-2017, 02:45 PM
Post: #3
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-18-2017 01:39 AM)AussieMick Wrote:  What are the strengths that make a politician great?
It would be useful if people could give 1 or 2 or ... even 5 strengths.


I suggest that you dont restrict yourself to Lincoln. Thats why I put this thread in Other. Maybe we could in another thread identify his strengths ... and weaknesses or rate him against the identified 'great' politician's strengths.

Vanity Fair has provided a remarkable collection of six scholars of the presidency (A. Scott Berg, Robert Dallek, Jon Meacham, Edmund Morris, Stacy Schiff, and Garry Wills with five out of these six authors awarded historically) in the October 2017 issue. Highly logical, nuanced, with Jon Meacham providing perhaps the best cautionary tale: "it's unclear whether we'll be able to isolate the Trump administration as an aberration, as opposed to the opening act in a genuine decline and a much longer story."
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12-18-2017, 03:06 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2017 03:28 PM by AussieMick.)
Post: #4
RE: What makes a great politician?
Sorry for not making myself clear ... I'm thinking of all politicians. And not just US presidents. Churchill. De Gaulle. Lincoln. Thatcher. Reagan. Kennedy. Julius Caesar. Merkel. Nixon. Washington. I guess even Hitler and Stalin. Some were obviously "better" and more successful than others. Obviously it depends on our own definitions of "politician" and "great" ... but I think it best not to drill too deeply into that.

Maybe an example will assist.

My candidate selection criteria for a great politician (not in priority order):

Ability to choose subordinates and trust them to make decisions.
Ability to make decisions and recognise mistakes and make new decisions.
Ability to focus on objectives and the strategy to achieve them.
Ability to inspire and maintain confidence.
Ability to conceive the impact of decisions on individual members of society.
Pragmatism: in the terms of knowing what is achievable and when.
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12-18-2017, 07:53 PM
Post: #5
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-18-2017 03:06 PM)AussieMick Wrote:  My candidate selection criteria for a great politician (not in priority order):

Ability to choose subordinates and trust them to make decisions.
Ability to make decisions and recognise mistakes and make new decisions.
Ability to focus on objectives and the strategy to achieve them.
Ability to inspire and maintain confidence.
Ability to conceive the impact of decisions on individual members of society.
Pragmatism: in the terms of knowing what is achievable and when.

I have to disagree, those are the qualities of a leader - not a politician.

Above all else a politician needs to be elected. As FDR often said, If I'm not elected I cant do anything. He was a master at manipulating events to his political advantage.

His 1940 election was a classic. With the help of the British secret service he managed to turn the main issue not on the economy (in which he failed miserably) but on the war in Europe. The BSS operation managed to manipulate the Republican convention into nominating a No-War neophyte named Wendell Willke who had never even ran for dog catcher before. The choice boiled down to experience vs rookie and FDR won easily.

Is their any doubt about his manipulation of Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor or the court packing scheme to control the Supreme Court?

FDR was probably the greatest politician ever - he devoted his entire life to succeed at the game. He was so good that the 22nd amendment was passed to prevent another FDR.
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12-18-2017, 09:19 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2017 09:21 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #6
RE: What makes a great politician?
I just don't understand why Kennedy occurs on "greatest" lists. The Cuba crisis is all, no? I believe he wouldn't have come up to the hype and the hopes the people had had in him, and if he hadn't been assassinated he would have struggled like Obama did. I think several of the best unexpectedly turned out so and v.v.
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12-19-2017, 01:11 AM (This post was last modified: 12-19-2017 01:54 AM by AussieMick.)
Post: #7
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-18-2017 09:19 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  I just don't understand why Kennedy occurs on "greatest" lists. The Cuba crisis is all, no? I believe he wouldn't have come up to the hype and the hopes the people had had in him, and if he hadn't been assassinated he would have struggled like Obama did. I think several of the best unexpectedly turned out so and v.v.

I was thinking that somebody would 'jack up' about me nominating Kennedy ... Eva, I could just as easily have been referring to his brother Robert. As a politician I think Robert had some great qualities.

I know many would agree with you about Jack. His strengths were balanced by a considerable weakness in his ... moral attitude to life, I think. I guess a selection criteria would need to cover something like "Being above reproach with regard to morality and so not open to blackmail". I think that might rule out quite a few politicians and others ...

(12-18-2017 07:53 PM)JMadonna Wrote:  
(12-18-2017 03:06 PM)AussieMick Wrote:  My candidate selection criteria for a great politician (not in priority order):

Ability to choose subordinates and trust them to make decisions.
Ability to make decisions and recognise mistakes and make new decisions.
Ability to focus on objectives and the strategy to achieve them.
Ability to inspire and maintain confidence.
Ability to conceive the impact of decisions on individual members of society.
Pragmatism: in the terms of knowing what is achievable and when.

I have to disagree, those are the qualities of a leader - not a politician.

Above all else a politician needs to be elected. As FDR often said, If I'm not elected I cant do anything. He was a master at manipulating events to his political advantage.

His 1940 election was a classic. With the help of the British secret service he managed to turn the main issue not on the economy (in which he failed miserably) but on the war in Europe. The BSS operation managed to manipulate the Republican convention into nominating a No-War neophyte named Wendell Willke who had never even ran for dog catcher before. The choice boiled down to experience vs rookie and FDR won easily.

Is their any doubt about his manipulation of Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor or the court packing scheme to control the Supreme Court?

FDR was probably the greatest politician ever - he devoted his entire life to succeed at the game. He was so good that the 22nd amendment was passed to prevent another FDR.

My selection of criteria was trying to prompt suggestions such as yours. I agree politicians must win election . good point. I guess my "Ability to inspire and maintain confidence" goes some way to covering that but it needs to be more specific to winning office.

As for FDR ... well, not being a US citizen, I hesitate to quibble. But that doesnt stop me... I'd suggest that FDR was bamboozled by Stalin. Yes, his illness was a considerable factor. But the victory in Europe and the resultant communist influence could have been very different if FDR had been clear about objectives and strategies.
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12-19-2017, 09:36 AM
Post: #8
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-19-2017 01:11 AM)AussieMick Wrote:  I'd suggest that FDR was bamboozled by Stalin. Yes, his illness was a considerable factor. But the victory in Europe and the resultant communist influence could have been very different if FDR had been clear about objectives and strategies.

FDR essentially traded Poland & Eastern Europe for Stalin's participation in the war against Japan. He knew exactly what he was doing.

If FDR had been clear about objectives and strategies he would never have gotten his third term and Wendel Willke would have been the Lincoln of the 20th century.
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12-19-2017, 12:06 PM
Post: #9
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-18-2017 09:19 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  I just don't understand why Kennedy occurs on "greatest" lists. The Cuba crisis is all, no? I believe he wouldn't have come up to the hype and the hopes the people had had in him, and if he hadn't been assassinated he would have struggled like Obama did. I think several of the best unexpectedly turned out so and v.v.

The Cuba crisis is all, no?

"No" is the right answer, definitely.

John F. Kennedy Moon Speech - Rice Stadium (September 12, 1962)

"If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency."


The internet, the cell phone, individual computers of all types would not have been possible but for the words and this decision of commitment by President Kennedy. It was the miniaturization of electronic components necessary for space exploration that brought us all of these marvels.

Have you ever noticed how Captain Kirk's communicator so resembles the cellphone that everyone now holds in their hands?

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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12-20-2017, 05:45 AM (This post was last modified: 12-20-2017 09:43 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #10
RE: What makes a great politician?
Did he go to the moon or was it his effort/research? I would think it's the scientists'. (And other countries contributed to that, too, the Russians actually were the first to invade space, the US had to catch and keep up.)
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12-20-2017, 08:14 AM
Post: #11
RE: What makes a great politician?
In a democracy, the ability to identify one's support base and to rally that base behind one's candidacy and presidency, is a key factor in making a good politician. President Trump does that exceptionally well, whether one likes him or dislikes him.

(Who would have thought an article in "Vanity Fair" would make it into a discussion about what makes a great politician.)
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12-20-2017, 10:05 AM
Post: #12
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-20-2017 05:45 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Did he go to the moon or was it his effort/research? I would think it's the scientists'. (And other countries contributed to that, too, the Russians actually were the first to invade space, the US had to catch and keep up.)

Kennedy did not have to go to the moon; his words and support of scientific endeavors (and other programs) spurred renewed beliefs in the American people's ability to achieve great things. We had focused on internal improvements in post-WWII America, but they were not quite so thrilling as the thought of space, advancement in the arts, historic preservation, etc.

To me, one of the factors in being a good politician is this ability to identify what needs to be done and communicate skillfully so that the public takes up the cause also. As "...Kate" says, like him or hate him, President Trump did this with his call to Make America Great Again.
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12-20-2017, 11:11 AM (This post was last modified: 12-20-2017 11:44 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #13
RE: What makes a great politician?
To motivate a people to do great things (not war) is a good point. I truly cannot estimate and ask this seriously - how long did Kennedy's charisma do so? And how longe would it have done - what if he hadn't been assassinated? I still tend to believe it was the same kind of hype like with Obama's first election. What if Obama had been assassinated in the very beginning before reality got him and his visions?

As for scientists - most are intrinsically motivated, not by politicians, quite a lot go where their work and rearch is supported the best (which make quite a lot of our best go - well, US).

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-new...180961110/
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12-20-2017, 11:55 AM
Post: #14
RE: What makes a great politician?
Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of a "good" politician is to exploit fear.
Right or wrong, Fear is a powerful motivator.

The space race was succesful not because we wanted to go to the moon, we just wanted to beat Russia in going to the moon.
Our immigration issues have lately (right or wrong) been using fear to restrict immigration.
The fear of loosing "health care" has caused advances in government control, but this has not improved the situation.
Frightening isn't it? That's the point. Government - politicians want you scared so you will give control to them.
Sometimes giving them control is necessary, sometimes it is detrimental.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-20-2017, 01:07 PM
Post: #15
RE: What makes a great politician?
(12-20-2017 11:11 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  To motivate a people to do great things (not war) is a good point. I truly cannot estimate and ask this seriously - how long did Kennedy's charisma do so? And how longe would it have done - what if he hadn't been assassinated? I still tend to believe it was the same kind of hype like with Obama's first election. What if Obama had been assassinated in the very beginning before reality got him and his visions?

As for scientists - most are intrinsically motivated, not by politicians, quite a lot go where their work and rearch is supported the best (which make quite a lot of our best go - well, US).

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-new...180961110/

Eva - I'm a product of the Kennedy era and was invigorated by Jack, Jackie, the kids, and Bobby and sister Eunice (not so much by others in the family). He also surrounded himself with some savvy people. At least for me, they had the charisma to make us believe in ourselves.

Would the President have been able to achieve his goals if he had lived? I have my doubts for a number of reasons, such as outside forces working against him, his father's reputation, and in some respects his not knowing where the skeletons were hidden!

For example, I don't think he could have pushed through the civil rights programs. It took a good old Southern manipulator like LBJ to do that. He'd been in politics long enough to know where weak spots were in the legislators and how to push just the right buttons. Yet, implementing his legislation was still difficult, and Vietnam was his death knell.

As for the recently departed President Obama, I have to admit that the first time I heard him speak, I was impressed. But then I asked myself who was he and how did he seem to pop up out of thin air. I did some investigating and became concerned about a lack of experience, the fact that few knew anything about him, his backers, his mother, etc.

He talked a good game, but I doubted his ability to lead and deliver. This is strictly my personal opinion, but I think my impression as to the quality of leadership he could provide was accurate. Perhaps, in 1960, if I had had a lot more experience and maturity, I would have thought the same about John F. Kennedy... But, there was a certain fire and polish in JFK that I never saw in the now-past administration. It boiled down to TRUST. And that's something that I'm finding it very hard to place in the current political world.

Now, y'all can go ahead and blacklist me.
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