Is Silence the Key to an Effective Presidency?


Who comes to mind for you?

Political columnnist Michael Barone names his three: FDR, Ike, and the Gipper.

Coincidentally, they're all still known by their nicknames, but Barone says Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan shared other similar qualities.

-- They each suffered setbacks mid-career.

-- They each came to office without the help of "any real friends."

-- They didn't trust anyone, even their wives, with full access to their intentions and strategies.

-- They were sometimes duplicitous and devious, calling the shots but letting others seem to be in charge.

Barone notes that's a far cry from the current president.

Is it necessary to add, switching to the present, that Donald Trump is nothing like this kind of president? To be sure, he has acted on shrewd insights, notably that he could shed college-graduate voters in many states without losing any electoral votes while adding to the Republican column non-college whites in others, gaining him 100. Few observers grasped that this was even possible until the evening of last Nov. 8.

But, with Twitter at the ready, Trump too often confides in the world things that Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan would have told no one else. We know his mood at 6:23 a.m., his reactions to hosts and guests on Fox & Friends, his miffedness with his attorney general.

Barone doesn't wonder whether Trump's lack of "self-discipline and self-restraint" will get him into Barone's "greatest presidents" club, but in this new media-is-everywhere era, would these other presidents have been able to keep such a tight grip on their administrations? Would the drumbeat of 24/7 everyone's-opinion-is-welcome have changed their strategy?

Trump certainly has been beset by a steady drip of leaks from his White House, and it's uncertain whether his brash behavior is setting the example for the stream, or if in this day-and-age, nothing is considered private or sacrosanct, not even global strategy from the leader of the free world. Is it too late to hope that their's some strategy behind the tactics? And what does it say about how the rest of us conduct ourselves? Do we really need to know it all? Or are we better off not knowing our president's thinking?

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Comments (2)
No. 1-2

FDR and Eisenhower take the cake for me.


I definitely agree that FDR is one of the best, most effective presidents in the last 100 years!