Newt Gingrich is a policy encyclopedia, but his acumen commands little enthusiasm for his candidacy. Mitt Romney likewise assumes the mantle of the technocratic over-achiever, but his well reasoned policy points marshal no passion for the leadership he purports to offer. Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum have solid enough legislative credentials from which to speak, but references to legislative votes and introduced-but-not-passed policy proposals do not heighten their stature to the level one expects in a president; rather, they make them appear mere legislators when a chief executive is required. Rick Perry, the only current executive in the field, offers the most promise in terms of possible presidential charisma, but his perceived conservative bona fides have heretofore been clumsily and crudely expressed.
In short, the presidential field lacks a contender who presents even the remotest possibility that he or she could, with enough practice (and perhaps the assistance of wordsmiths like Alexander Hamilton, Ted Sorensen, and Tony Dolan) emerge as the kind of transformational communicator needed at this historical moment. The Blue Goose requires behind it an individual with the singular ability to summon Americans to the greatness to which they are accustomed.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that the presidency requires an individual who can rise to the occasion and do more than recite lofty rhetoric emblazoned on a teleprompter. Americans can do and daily do rise to the occasion in their own lives and professions, so why should they not demand the same of their president?
For all his faults, most Americans would agree that after 9/11, President Bush was that kind of president – the kind who fully inhabited the office and spoke accordingly. When he grabbed the bullhorn and strode atop rubble at Ground Zero to declare that "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" he epitomized what James Madison described as that quintessentially American political leadership, that "energy in the executive."
Finally, and more recently, Presidents Kennedy and Reagan stand as leading modern examples of this trend. Little needs to be said about their willingness to use, and their effectiveness at using, the presidential pulpit to advance the cause of reform at home and freedom abroad. "Bear any burden" and "tear down this wall" are forever etched in the national consciousness, and both stand as striking examples of the capabilities of both parties to stir the nation to greatness.
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