March 24, 2005

Regular Folks

Tony Blair's taking some heat over in Britain. And let this be a lesson to politicians everywhere to never, ever appear on daytime TV:
Marion Baxter, a nurse, asked [Tony Blair], point blank, if he would be prepared to clean patients' backsides for $9 an hour. On another issue, Maria Hutchings, a homemaker, advanced on him across the studio, proclaiming, "That's rubbish, Tony." Debra Kroll, a midwife, told him, "We asked you not to go to war," and demanded an apology for invading Iraq. (He did not give one.)
Cheers to Debra and Maria! But I think Marion here is being a tad unfair. All things being equal, one would prefer Tony Blair not to be prepared to clean patients' backsides, since he ought to have his mind focused on the task at hand, i.e. running the country. Meanwhile, I do a lot of editing here in the office during the day, and right now I'm not at all prepared to teach a classroom full of 4th graders—even though I've done that sort of thing before—but that doesn't mean I don't care about teachers, or that I can't write and think about education. Nor does it mean I can't relate to teachers. Basically, it means nothing at all.

Anyway, this whole notion that leaders must be regular folks or have the common touch seems a bit overrated. Certainly policymakers shouldn't be just regular folks, at least to the extent that they're thinking about policy and balancing a whole bunch of competing demands and abstract concerns. A prime minister or president, on the other hand, maybe needs to convince voters and/or the daytime TV crowd that he/she has their best interests at heart, and maybe saying "Yes, I'm ready to wipe some asses!" is the best way to do that, but really, it's an odd way to prove you care.
-- Brad Plumer 1:13 PM || ||