(Cross-posted at Clintonistas for Obama)
One of the things that struck me both during the last debate and the one that took place last evening is how different are the two men in their styles of leadership. Offering in a concise way this morning in The Washington Post in his reflections about last night’s debate an idea that occurred to me both last evening and a week ago,E. J. Dionne summed up the difference between the two men:
McCain sounded like a legislator, Obama like a president.
There is an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. At 72, John McCain has spent more than a third of his long life in Congress. He thinks like a legislator. He talks like a legislator. He may be a leader of a certain sort, but it isn’t executive leadership. The kind of leadership to which he aspires may be worthy, but he doesn’t think like a president. He sees governance as an aisle that divides the Senate floor, one that requires an arm to reach across. He seems incapable of the expansive big-picture thinking required to set the tone that leads a nation; try as McCain’s aides might to get him to avoid the subject in a debate, he is obsessed with the nuts and bolts of earmarks. The Senate has an aisle, and it is the place to vote earmarks up and down; presidents in our system work in a place that has no aisle and do not have line-by-line authority to veto earmarks.
McCain may be senatorial, but he is not presidential. Obama is the candidate with the expansive perspective inherent in presidential leadership. A vote for Barack Obama is not just a vote to make Barack Obama president but also a vote to keep John McCain in the Senate where he belongs.