The “Have a Beer” test

Shel Israel, who is giving the keynote address at BlogOrlando (where I will be a session leader, in case you missed it), has an interesting post on his Global Neighbourhoods blog.

He relates a story from his younger days, worried about Goldwater beating Johnson…

This was back in 1963. A copy editor named Jack Cook, took me under his wing. He was perhaps my first journalistic mentor. …

I was worried about Goldwater stealing the election from Lyndon Johnson and Jack explained to me the “have a beer factor.” Jack had covered politics for more than 20 years. He was an expert on the Boston rough house style.

When it comes to the presidency, he taught me, it’s not about ideology. Neither is it about domestic or foreign policy. If it was about experience, then Nixon would easily have beaten that junior senator from Massachusetts, Jack Kennedy.

Jack’s point was not about the impact of alcohol. It was more about the conversation, the way it would have been described in the early 60s. Jack, I’m sure is long gone, but over the years, the have-a-beer concept of just sitting down and chatting with the person who would be president. There is something about the image that says, the other person is accessible and knows enough about you–even if you disagree–to somehow look at the world with a bit of your eyes in the White House vision.

A lot of pundits talk about charisma and personae of the various candidates. There is talk every election about which candidate is more attractive, especially when Bill Clinton was running. But the concept is basically the same: “Which candidate do you like?”

It’s an interesting question.

So, setting aside ideology for now, who do you like? Do you feel like you can connect with any of the candidates?

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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2 Responses to The “Have a Beer” test

  1. shel israel says:

    Thanks for this kind mention. Perhaps when we’re at BlogOrlando, we can have a beer together.

  2. Jim Johnson says:

    Thanks, Shel. Sounds good to me. I look forward to meeting you.

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