Thursday, January 3, 2008

Who Will You Hire?

In recognition of the Iowa caucuses today, BlogHer political contributing editor Morra Aarons asks about the politics of change and what it means to you. Oh, I don't know -- maybe it would mean a world where Americans traveling abroad wouldn't feel compelled to pretend they're Canadian? Or maybe it would mean a health care system that doesn't require a masters degree to figure out or afford.

OR, maybe it would finally mean a country that makes it possible to successfully raise a family and hold down a job without losing your sanity.

I always approach an election as if I'm hiring someone for a job. Experience, ideas and chemistry with colleagues are all critical considerations. I've hired people with great experience, but if they can't offer solid thinking, or don't play well with others, it can mean disaster. I've also hired wonderful people who were well-liked, but unless they can come up with realistic ideas and command enough respect for others to buy into those ideas, they don't last long either.

If I was hiring for this job, here's how the Democratic contenders would break down:

  • Hillary Clinton: Great resume, top-notch experience. Clearly knows her stuff. But Hillary strikes me as the kind of exec whose smart, strong ideas would command respect, but her take no prisoners attitude would scare everyone sh**less. Lots of people effectively lead this way, but can it fly in DC these days, especially given the anti-Clinton sentiment that likely still lingers? And given the part of the world with which we have to mend relations, as much as I hate to say it, I wonder if a woman is right for the job right now. I know this is heresy to my kind -- I may be a woman, but I'm also a realist.

  • John Edwards: Experienced. Passionate. Thoughtful. A nice guy, Edwards reminds me of a top exec at my organization who makes a point of saying hello to everyone he sees and ends every conversation by thanking you for your very hard work. Edwards has ambitious ideas, but are they too ambitious and would he command enough respect in DC to push them through? Speaking of respect, how would yet another white guy with a Southern accent play with the Middle East?

  • Barack Obama: Not as much direct experience as the other candidates, but his resume contains an interesting mix. As a dark horse contender and a non-insider, Obama would initially enjoy a certain mystique in DC. A strong communicator, he could eventually win over even the toughest skeptics with his smart, pragmatic approach, calm demeanor and his rejection of negative political tactics. Could his darker skin and Muslim-sounding name intrigue our Middle Eastern enemies enough to open doors to real conversation?
While no candidate has the perfect combination of experience, ideas and chemistry, if I was hiring for this position, I'd extend an offer to Obama. His ethnicity holds a symbolic and unspoken promise of uniting our country and the world, but his background and natural inclination to find common ground can make change a reality. What we need most is a pragmatic approach and the promise of a new day -- a strong sign to both our foreign friends and our own Congress that America is ready for real change.

Who will you hire?

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