Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Wanted: Less Dazzle in a Leader

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Wanted: Less Dazzle in a Leader

Article excerpt

I'm not advocating a return of a "Silent Cal" Coolidge to the White House. But it occurs to me that the country may be ready - even reaching out - for a president who doesn't dazzle us, day in and day out, with his talk and personality. Now, once again, I've stirred up those who are all-out defenders of Bill Clinton.

But journalists traveling through the states where the early primaries are to be held - particularly Iowa, New Hampshire, and New York - are reporting that they are talking to a lot of voters who say they have "stuck" with Mr. Clinton but now are looking for someone of higher moral character in their next president and, additionally, someone less flamboyant.

These are voters who have continued to tell pollsters they approve of Clinton's overall performance despite his personal misconduct. They credit him for that booming economy. But while continuing to hail Clinton for his brilliance and orator's skills, they are now telling reporters they are ready for a president who is less charismatic and just talks plain-talk to the people. Maybe they have a Harry Truman type in mind. Could that "someone else" be Bill Bradley? Mr. Bradley, as a senator, was a Monitor breakfast guest on several occasions. He is so tall it's not easy carrying on a conversation with him, even when he's sitting beside you. But what strikes you immediately on meeting him is his modesty. He's been a great basketball player, the idol of millions of fans. So many of these famous "jocks" never recover from this adulation, their heads remaining swelled for the rest of their lives. But not Bradley. He is highly intelligent - a Princeton man and a Rhodes scholar. But he doesn't throw that around either. He answers questions quietly and thoughtfully - sometimes starting a thought and then, pausing, starting over again. He strikes you as a man who is so secure that he doesn't have to bowl you over every minute with a show of his brains and speaking prowess. …

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