Friday, January 04, 2008

Growth Potential

One of the qualities I think people overlook when considering presidential candidates is the ability to grow into the office. You'll never elect the next Harry Truman if you look for the president who stood up to MacArthur in the person of the Congressman of 1944. But I think it is possible to make a reasonable judgment about a candidate's ability to grow into the job.

Looking over the current crop, I can find reasons not to vote for all of them, based either on what they've done or what they've promised to do. So I'm likely to make a choice based on perceived growth potential.

The two on each side who seem to me already to have presidential size -- Hillary and McCain -- also seem to have least potential to grow. Hillary's been on the same program since about 1969, and I think it would walk through a nuclear blast like the Terminator's exoskeleton without losing a step. McCain is just done growing, and I'm not really sure what he is, but he's there.

Huckabee probably would like to grow, but I doubt he's got room in his soul to do it. Romney I can't read in this regard. Edwards and Giuliani seem to have boxed themselves into places where they can't grow without dismantling their identities.

Obama, however, impresses me as having enormous will and capability to learn on the job, to soak it up and use experience to make himself better at it. Which is why I've been leaning toward him lately.

You might immediately object that in this world, in America's current status, there is no time for learning at the top and no room for error. Possibly. But I think George W. Bush proves that there is a little time and room, at least. He confounded me; I expected him to grow into the job, but, for better or worse, he seems to be exactly what he was in 2000.