Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Presidential Debates 1.0

This week see the final of three televised debates between Barack Obama and John McCain ahead of the US Presidential Election on November 6th. Obama has shaded the two events so far, although McCain has had a couple of moments in each that would give his support something to hang onto. With previous research suggesting that many US voters watch all these events before finally deciding who to vote for, Thursday will be vital to both candidates. The fact remains though that the candidate that all politicians should aspire to be is Bill Clinton. It’s not just a matter of his politics, because as this paper published in the Scientific American sets out, he was a master of communication to a degree unsurpassed by any other living politician. Having an impressive natural ability is one thing, but using this to its full potential by having an eye for detail and a commitment to preparation is simply extraordinary. To understand greatness in most fields of life is understand that most of the single actions of great people are easily understood, but the greatness comes from an ability to put them all together and have an understanding of the entire context of your work and how individual actions contribute to it. I’ve had the honour to see Clinton once in person, when he was at Westminster at an event with Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair. I was outside on the rope line with a huddle of devotees ranging from cleaners to junior Ministers, and there was a real sense of excitement about their appearance together. Blair, as usual, was charismatic and radiant, and Mandela, even though he was by this point an elderly man who needed a little assistance to his car, Clinton had the presence of a real superstar. The fact that he worked on this type of presentation over and above employing his natural abilities is why he’s the greatest politician of his generation.