Pundits-in-chief by mattsteinglass
June 18, 2009, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, President

Matthew Yglesias notes astutely:

Something I think people don’t always get is that the President is not the columnist-in-chief or the National Blogger. One of the very nice things about being a professional political pundit, is that you can just sort of spout off what you think and use colorful language and strong, bold words. …Max Bergmann did an excellent post on just this subject last summer, saying that John McCain had a tendency to act more like a pundit than a president.

McCain has this in common with a lot of political figures on the right. Basically all of Europe’s “charismatic” anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim politicians are essentially bloggers manqués, from the Netherlands’ late Pim Fortuyn and current Geert Wilders to Britain’s Nick Griffin and Finland’s Timo Soini. Some such politicians actually wind up running major countries: Vladimir Putin has a tendency to mouth off at press conferences, as though he were just your average ex-KGB-agent-in-the-street, and Silvio Berlusconi has never been known to tone down his manner to preserve the dignity of his office, his country, the teenage girl in the bathrobe sitting on his couch, or anything else. Thaksin Shinawatra used to be a big-time straight-talker before it got him kicked out of his country, and Hugo Chavez has been known to act like he’s speaking truth to from a position of power too. And, obviously, there’s a gentleman who claims to have recently won 63 percent of the vote in the Iranian presidential elections who’s been known to make the odd bombastic, divisive pronouncement now and again. All of these guys are employing a dramatically different governing philosophy than Obama does. And it’s really not a coincidence that most of them are running small “protest” parties that don’t have any responsibility for governance, while the ones who do hold power have uniformly proven to be disastrous failures at running their countries.


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