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Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.


Comparing The Candidates: The Artisan vs the Idealist  | e-mail post

I get an ungodly amoung of spam, even after my spam filter catches some. It's one downside of having the same e-mail address for over a decade (and I was doing web development back in 1994, so God only knows how many places I've submitted my e-mail over time.) But sometimes an interesting piece slips through, like a piece of mail I got from one of the countless personality/psychology sites; no not Tickle, but good guess. This one was from AdvisorTeam. I actually did take one of their mini personality tests when I was working on a project related to online testing and prescreening, so strictly speaking this wasn't complete spam, I guess.

But to get back to the story. AdvisorTeam sent a newsletter "Election 2004 - Candidates' Personalities," in which they assess both candidates personalities. It includes a view of the personalities of the various candidates, based on the names they assign to the different Keirsey Tempermant sorter outcomes. (Keirsey sorting, like the Myers-Briggs, is what gives you the typical ENTP or ISNJ sort of results.)

In any event, if you're thinking about voting on "character," or voting for "the man," not just the policies or platforms, you may find this worth a read.

The site provides a discussion of Bush and Kerry's personality. Their Bush profile was done in advance of the 2000 election, and they say "the prediction we made about his Temperament has been born out. Bold and decisive could be two words that could describe his Presidency, no matter what political side one is on. Obviously, other words (praiseworthy or derogatory) might be added depending on one’s politics, however, George Bush’s temperament has proven to be that of an Artisan."

They characterize artisans such as Bush, who they specifically say is a "Promoter Artisan" as "masters of the crisis" and point to similar personalities as John Kennedy, LBJ, Bill Clinton and FDR:
Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, he used this opportunity to galvanize the nation to war. Unlike previous wars, this war on terrorism has broken the mold of conventional perceptions of war and uses of pre-emption. Although pre-emption is not a unique concept, it appears to break conventional wisdom, upsetting those who want to be more cautious and conventional.With tactical intelligence, George Bush has boldly brought the war to the terrorists, even attacking them on some of their territory, which is an offense strategy.

Obviously, for some armchair or hindsight generals and politicians, this course of action is considered to be rash and foolish. But only time will tell whether the Artisan tactics of Bush -- like fellow Artisans that were before him -- like Clinton, Reagan, Johnson, Kennedy, or Roosevelt -- were rash or insightful.
Interestingly, I found myself in a discussion last night with someone explaining the fundamental difficulty of judging the historical importance and ultimate merit of our current action in Iraq, in the same way that people judged Reagan aggressive defense spending in the 1980's as wreckless and irrational, not understanding, as Reagan clearly did, that forcing the Soviets into stepping up the arms race would ulimately break the back of their economy, and thus of Soviet Communism. Today, rather than rattling our sabres at one another, Russia and the U.S. share a common enemy in Muslin extremists.

The Promoter Artisan label applies specifically to the ESTP personality. Winston Churchill and Patton were both ESTPs, as were Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt.

They identify John Kerry as a "Counselor Idealist" which is an INFJ personality. It's quite interesting to note that he is the exact opposite of Bush's personality. Where Bush perceives, Kerry judges; where Bush thinks, Kerry feels; where Bush senses, Kerry intuits; and where Bush is extroverted, Kerry is introverted. The write-up they provide on Kerry closes with:
He has spent the last twenty years in the Senate. He tends to vote Liberal, but he doesn’t have a significant legislative actions to his name. Instead he worked on causes that he felt he could contribute to, some of which were controversial. Though he has had eclectic results, Kerry has been able to use his Idealist diplomatic skills to form working relationships with Senators on both sides of the aisle. For example, in an association with John McCain, he strove to heal the wounds of Vietnam – this was one of Kerry’s more visible and notable efforts.

Now John Kerry is running for President, something he probably had in the back of his mind, ever since he first met John Kennedy. Kerry probably views the running for the Presidency as a great cause, to inspire others towards his Idealistic vision of the future.
Doesn't sound really compelling. I wrote about Kerry's lack of executive experience, and the fact that the U.S. virtually never elects Presidents who haven't been in positions of true leadership prior to the Presidency, in "The Buck Stops Where?" In that piece I point out Kennedy as the counterexample, the one non-executive we've elected to the White House since the 1930s.

As an aside, when I pointed this out to two individuals last night, one suggested she thought Americans foolish for placing a premium on executive experience. I can't understand how one could place too high a premium on the issue of executive leadership experience, of being the one person whose decision is the final answer, when choosing a President. It's an entirely different experience than being one of a large group passing legislation.

But getting back to personalities, the news letter includes a table of how America has voted in the recent past:

1960Kennedy (Artisan)Nixon (Guardian)
1964Johnson (Artisan)Goldwater (Rational)
1968Humphrey (Guardian) Nixon (Guardian)
1972McGovern (Guardian) Nixon (Guardian)
1976Carter (Guardian) Ford (Guardian)
1980Carter (Guardian) Reagan (Artisan)
1984Mondale (Guardian)Reagan (Artisan)
1988Dukakis (Guardian) Bush (Guardian)
1992Clinton (Artisan)Bush (Guardian)
1996Clinton (Artisan)Dole (Guardian)
2000Al Gore (Rational) George W. Bush (Artisan)
2004John Kerry (Idealist) George W. Bush (Artisan)

It's interesting to note that the US has never elected an Idealist to be President. In fact, Idealists and not known to be leaders. Gandhi was an Idealist, but he wasn't running a country. Eleanor Roosevelt, while very powerful as FDR's wife, was also an Idealist, but again, FDR was the one running the country, even if Eleanor was an influential advisor.

The full write-ups on Bush and Kerry are on the AdvisorTeam site.

For the definitive text on this question, pick up a copy of David Keirsey's "Presidential Temperment" which has been updated to include Clinton, but doesn't yet include Bush.

Full disclosure: I'm a Rational, like Barry Goldwater and Al Gore (well, not really like Barry Goldwater or Al Gore, maybe a bit of a cross, poltically). The last time I tested, I was an *NTJ (I was neutral between extroverted and introverted). I've also flipped, when I was younger I was *NTP, and am only weakly judging. The "NT" characteristic is the constant that defines me as a Rational, though. ENTJs are known as Field Marshalls and INTJs are Masterminds. For more on the types, see the listings on the Keirsey.com site. I actually decided to take a quick free test and came out as INTP, the "Architect," so apparently I have flipped into more perceiving than judging again. Test yourself if you'd like, with a free 53 question Myers-Briggs test at SimilarMinds.com, which also has other personality tests, if that sort of thing interests you.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Saturday, October 30, 2004
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