Carter and I spoke this morning to Leadership North Carolina about the political landscape today. The questions were interesting – and pointed:
What do the Republicans do now?
How will Bev Perdue govern and position herself for 2012?
How will the state solve its fiscal problems?
How will the feds pay for Medicare and Social Security?
Being political consultants and not policy wonks, we punted on the issue questions. We agreed that the best thing for Republicans to do is hope for Democrats to blow our chance the way Bush blew the Republicans’. We agreed that Perdue’s future depends on her ability to avoid “status quo Bev” and really make the “fresh start” she promised Tuesday night.
Another question was what Obama’s staffing decisions (that is, Rahm Emanuel) tell us about him as President. Well, it tells me that Obama will be just as coolly ruthless governing as he was campaigning.
Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Obama obviously gave a lot of thought to his staff before picking a Cabinet. And he knew exactly what he wanted when he picked Rahmbo: a smart political operator who can compromise when necessary and take your head off when necessary.
I offered the group one lesson about leadership from Obama’s campaign. I talked about the three big changes of this election. (You might have heard this was a change election.) They are: (1) The rise of North Carolina in presidential campaigns (2) the end of Election Day and the rise of Early Voting, and (3) the death (or decline) of newspapers and the emergence of the connected age.
Here is this lesson: Obama’s campaign did not have some stroke of genius. He and his strategists simply realized what was happening – the importance of caucus states in the primary and the expanded battlegrounds in November, the value of early vote and the power of new media. And they made all three changes work for them.
Now, can he do the same thing in the White House? If he does, he will be as good a President as he was a candidate. And Democrats will be in good shape. But as the questions we were asked prove, governing is harder than running.
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