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Monday, January 05, 2009

Bleeding Heartland: What kind of politicians make history?

Excerpted from this post at Bleeding Heartland

The Des Moines Register ran a piece on New Year's Day called Culver resolves to leave as premier Iowa governor: ... I don't know a thing about Horace Boies, but the piece got me thinking about what Culver would have to do to go down in history as the best governor Iowa ever had. What makes a governor, or any elected official, memorable in a good way for decades after leaving office? Some politicians make history instantly by being the first something-or-other to reach a particular position. Whether Barack Obama turns out to be a great president or achieves as little as Millard Fillmore, he'll be remembered for centuries as the first black man elected president. Culver's not going to be remembered for being the first of anything. Some politicians are good at winning elections but don't leave much of a legacy. Terry Branstad never lost an election and served four terms as governor of Iowa, but he's not going to make anybody's "best governors ever" list. ... If Culver does an adequate job governing Iowa through a difficult economic stretch, he should be able to win re-election. But if he wants to be remembered 50 or 100 years from now, he's going to have to do something big to change business as usual in this state.

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