Edwards vs. Kerry

Mark Kleiman has some thoughtful analysis of the differences between Edwards and Kerry:

Edwards seems to be by far the better natural politician. If he looked older and had some foreign policy or national security credentials he’s make a great candidate. But as it is, he’s almost as unqualified to be President as GWB was four years ago, and that’s pretty scary. Plus he carries the “trial lawyer” baggage, which offsets somewhat his man-of-the-people appeal.

Kerry seems to have found his voice; I just hope his war-hero record will insulate him against some imprudent post-Vietnam remarks on military and security issues.

Which would make the better President? Search me. The record tells you much less than you think it does.

Harry Truman and JFK were both long-service Senators with negligible records of legislative accomplishment, and both performed more than adequately as President. No one predicted — or, I submit, could have predicted based on his Senate record — that LBJ would be the manager of the Second Reconstruction, but so he was.

Jimmy Carter was, as far as I can tell, a pretty damned terrific governor of Georgia, and Bill Clinton had a solid record in Arkansas and a sky-high IQ. Both of them were piss-poor Presidents, who never figured out the Neustadtian lesson that a President’s first job is to make the people who nominally work for him actually work for him, and to convince the other players that their interests will be served better by helping the President than by obstructing his path.

Kleiman concludes he’s “planning to relax, help remind my readers of Mr. Bush’s inadequacies, write checks to both Kerry and Edwards…and support the winner enthusiastically.”

It’s a good piece; worth reading it all.