Friday, February 15, 2013

Ben Domenech builds a candidate for Prez16

Today marks the fifth entry in a Prez16 weekly feature, in which I ask a top conservative or liberal thought leader to build their ideal presidential candidate for the 2016 race.

This week?

We've got Ben Domenech, the author of the popular newsletter, The Transom, and research fellow for The Heartland Institute, crafting his ideal hybrid.

Ben writes....

IDEOLOGY of Calvin Coolidge.

A man of underrated faith, steadiness, and purpose, no president since the Founders understood better the proper relationship of government with the people than Coolidge.

"I want the people of America to work less for the government and more for themselves", Cal said, "I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. That is the chief meaning of freedom."

BRAINS of Thomas Sowell.

The next president needs to be a thinker who rejects the idea of forgone conclusions and approaches the job from a new perspective. Irascible and ingenious, Sowell is a polymath whose knowledge and life experience allows him a unique understanding of the high and the low debates of economics and culture, addressing politics with a wisdom derived from his former Marxism, streaked through with a uniquely populist brand of libertarianism whose time has come.

Thomas Sowell (photo: American Journal)

CHARISMA of Bill Clinton.

For two decades the right has been searching for The Next Reagan, but the Gipper is a unique figure in history, one of the greatest presidents of all time. They would be better off looking for the next Clinton, a charismatic politician with a mythic power to connect with people where they are, speaking to the problems in front of them with compassion and care.

Clinton focused his agenda on the rebirth of the middle class, and while there are those on the right who can give soaring speeches, there may be no one who can match Clinton's ability to bond with people of all backgrounds.

Bill Clinton in Uganda (photo: Clinton Foundation)

POLITICAL SAVVY of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The right lacks knife fighters -- people who understand negotiation for the fool's game it is, and are bent on manipulating the process to their advantage with every tool at their disposal. FDR had a genius for political gamesmanship and behind-the-scenes manipulation matched by few politicians. His missteps were few, and his savvy for twisting his opponents in virtual knots is virtually unequaled.

The modern right has some false perception that the art of rough politics is somehow uniquely dirty -- this is absurd and ahistorical (Alexander Hamilton certainly knew otherwise). The sooner they learn to wield the weapons they have, the sooner they'll have an effective presidency.

FDR (photo: FDR Presidential Library and Museium

LOOKS of Mike Rowe.

The challenge with a presidential visage is that it needs to appeal to women without making men think you're just a pretty boy (see Gosling, Ryan).

The former Dirty Jobs host, who's testified more than once on the need for better workforce education and the importance of skilled labor vs. traditional four year higher ed models, hits the right mark for a modern self-deprecating manliness.

Mike Rowe (photo: Discovery Channel)

HOMESTATE of Virginia.

Everyone's going to say Ohio, but that's silly. The Old Dominion is now just as much as a swing state as any other, and as part of the D.C. media market, anyone who can withstand the attention of the Washington press corps for a few years would come to the field prepared for the pressures of the presidential race.

The press generally has blinders for anything that happens outside the Acela corridor (consider how surprised the media was at the foreign-ness of the nation's longest tenured governor in Rick Perry, retelling old stories with surprise Texans had digested year earlier), and being from Virginia would make storylines old hat from the perspective of the press.

Unfortunately, given its unique limit on consecutive gubernatorial terms, and off-year elections to boot, it's unlikely Virginia will produce a president any time soon.

Virginia is for Lovers and Road Construction (photo: Hampton

Thanks, Ben!

Previous entries have come from Jonathan Capehart (here), James Pethokoukis (here), @LOLGOP (here), and John Nolte (here).