Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Richardson as a serious candidate

Matthew Yglesias has an excellent article over at The American Prospect about Bill Richardson's lack of media attention. In the article he talks about Richardson's many qualifications for President:
as governor, Richardson "has been lauded by traditionally right-leaning publications and organizations such as Forbes Magazine and the Cato Institute for reforming New Mexico's economy," traditionally the sort of thing that would create some buzz given that we are, after all, talking about a fairly progressive Democrat.

Here's something else you might expect to garner some buzz: If that same Democrat also found some spare time in January to broker a cease-fire between the government of Sudan and some major rebel factions in Darfur. That kind of person might be someone who understands that these sort of humanitarian tragedies can't just be ended purely through righteous indignation.

But now we're getting back to the small matter of qualifications. Traditionally, Americans have turned to governors to serve as president, thinking that experience in executive office and with complicated managerial tasks outweighs the experience with federal policy issues that members of Congress can count in their favor. Happily, Richardson spent over a decade in the House of Representatives before becoming governor. In between, he was America's ambassador the United Nations, wracking up a level of national security experience that none of the other contenders can match. And did I mention he was also Secretary of Energy? Too bad nobody thinks energy independence and global climate change are important policy areas in which it would be good for the chief executive to have some knowledge. Oh, well.
The whole article is definitely work reading if you are interested in presidential candidates at this stage of the game.

He also makes a point about the media's bias coverage of candidates. They don't cover all the candidates, just the ones the media deems worthwhile. Now I don't watch news shows on television or listen to them on the radio (I get my news almost exclusively from the Internet) but my sister does and she has made a similar complaint. She feels like ever Edwards has been passed over by the media in favor of Hillary and Obama.

The media does play a very powerful role in the process by choosing who to spotlight and who to ignore, but are the other candidates doing their part to draw some attention to themselves? Maybe Richardson needs to be having living room parties in Iowa. If Richardson, or others, can take their campaign to the people and get a good showing in an early primary they can get the press's attention. It's not fair that they have to do more to get that attention, it's true. But the world is not fair. The press covers what they think the public wants to hear about. And at least right now, the public wants to hear about the superstar candidates. It's not the best way to elect a president, as Matthew Yglesias notes, but it is the system we are stuck with at the moment. If someone wants the job, they have to learn to work the system.

H/T: Matthew Yglesias via Poliblog (who at the time of my reading didn't include an actual link to the article but I'm sure will be adding one shortly).

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