September 26, 2006

Presidential Professions

A day after I considered the widespread (and possibly premature) political obituaries about George Allen's Presidential ambitions, the Wall Street Journal has suggested someone who might step into the shoes of Senator Allen -- Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Not a perfect fit for the religious Republicans, perhaps, but close enough.

Romney has the advantage of being a governor, and thus a member of the executive class. Consider for a moment the backgrounds of the Presidents who have been elected since the start of the twentieth century:

26. Theodore Roosevelt -- Vice-President of U.S.A., Assistant Secretary of Navy, military service, Police Commission of New York City
27. William Howard Taft -- Governor-General of the Philippines, Secretary of War
28. T. Woodrow Wilson -- Governor of New Jersey, President of Princeton University
29. Warren G. Harding -- U.S. Senator
30. J. Calvin Coolidge -- Vice-President of U.S.A., Governor of Massachusetts
31. Herbert C. Hoover -- Secretary of Commerce
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt -- Governor of New York
33. Harry S. Truman -- U.S. Senator, briefly Vice-President of U.S.A.
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower -- General, U.S. Army
35. John F. Kennedy -- U.S. Senator
36. Lyndon Johnson -- Vice-President of U.S.A., U.S. Senator
37. Richard Nixon -- Vice-President of U.S.A.
38. Gerald Ford -- Vice-President of U.S.A.
39. Jimmy Carter -- Governor of Georgia
40. Ronald Reagan -- Governor of California
41. George W. Bush -- Vice-President of U.S.A., Director of CIA
42. Bill Clinton -- Governor of Arkansas
43. George W. Bush -- Governor of Texas

Of these eighteen men, only four (Harding, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson) had significant amounts of legislative experience in their backgrounds. The other fourteen presented backgrounds of executive experience. The most common item on that list is service as the governor of a state (7) followed closely by service as Vice-President of the United States. The last time a President whose background was legislative was elected President was 1964 -- and Johnson was the incumbent President and had served for two years as Vice-President. To find a man elected President from within the ranks of the legislature, you need to go all the way back to the dark horse candidacy of Warren G. Harding in 1920.

We Americans like to elect executives to be our chief executive, simple as that. It's a trend that transcends partisanship. So forget people like John McCain, George Allen, John Edwards, and Barack Obama. Start thinking about people like Wesley Clark, Bill Richardson, the aforementioned Mitt Romney, and Rudy Guiliani.

(And once again, Condi doesn't want to be President!)

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