Today's goes to Dave Hopkins, who read today's Politico story in which Mitt Romney's personal flaws are alleged to be the source of his current campaign woes, and tweeted out:
Paging @jbplainblog: anon. Romney-ites admit he's a bad politician but say he'd be a really successful pres. Unlikely!Yes, exactly. Now, in fact, I think Romney's political skills are, at the moment, underrated; no one accidentally winds up as a major-party nominee for president, certainly not in an era in which parties have re-asserted control over nominations (I'd be willing to go with Jimmy Carter and perhaps George McGovern as accidental nominees). But that points to the real point here: there's more to being a good politician than simply being able to come up with the right folksy metaphor all the time.
Political skills are equally important to succeeding in office as they are to successfully gaining office.
Note, for example, that the "$10,000 bet" that Politico makes much of didn't actually seem to hurt him very much in his quest for the nomination. But something did help him: his apparent ability to assure party actors that he was an acceptable candidate.
(There's also the question about whether Romney's current problems have anything to do with his electioneering skills or with the campaign at all; remember that he's down by about four points in current polling, which isn't very far from where "fundamentals" models would put him, depending on which model you look at).
Granted: there's George W. Bush. While I don't think his general election candidacies were anything special, his nomination victory in 2000 was a truly impressive political accomplishment. Bush did successfully sell himself to key party leaders -- most notably, the other Republican governors of the time -- as a good presidential candidate and presumably someone who could be a president who would not damage Republican interests. That turned out to be dead wrong, and the skill Bush appeared to show in doing so turned out to predict little of how he would behave in office. Still, I think the point generally holds: good political skills are useful both in campaigning and governing, and glaring weaknesses revealed in one most likely reveal defects in the other. What I'd probably say is that if we break political abilities down into specific skills, we would wind up with a broad overlap between those used in electioneering and those used in governing. Not identical, and some would show up in both lists but would be more central for one than the other, but nevertheless overlapping.
Also: nice catch!