The December 17th issue of Time had some interesting statistics on voters. When asked the “most important quality” for a candidate, Democrats picked “good judgment” 33% of the time, and Republicans picked it 21%. The other choices were caring about people, leadership, character, and experience.
Does it bother you that good judgment wasn’t the top choice for three-quarters of all voters?
Obviously experience doesn’t help if you have bad judgment. But a person with good judgment would consult with people who have experience. Clearly, judgment is more important than experience.
Character is important in exactly the same sense that good health is important. You need a minimum of both to be a suitable president. But the bar isn’t set that high for either health or character. You can have polio, or be a liar, or a philanderer, and it doesn’t seem to have much impact on job performance. All of the current candidates have enough character, and enough health, for the job.
Leadership and caring about people are touchy-feely concepts that have little correlation with presidential job performance. Obviously you don’t want a wimp or a sociopath in the office, but again, the bar is set low. All of the current candidates clear it with room to spare.
Clearly, good judgment should be the most important quality in a president. But how often do you hear someone say that a candidate “has good judgment”? How about never?
I was thinking about this because someone forwarded me a link to a web site that is trying to draft Michael Bloomberg for president. http://www.uniteformike.com/. You would think the strongest quality a successful business person has to offer is good judgment. In most cases, if you start with a little money, and end up with a lot, you have to make a lot of good decisions along the way. But the site promoting Bloomberg doesn’t mention his decision-making skills because everyone knows voters aren’t influenced by that sort of thing.
Does that worry you?