Dan Drezner ’90, Eph blogger extraordinaire, is voting for Kerry. Most interesting bit:

I prefer a leader who has a good decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I don’t like, over a leader who has a bad decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I do like.

Vote for the better bureaucrats! I’m inspired. Presumably, it all depends on the amount of the skew. That is, if Kerry believed in an approach to foreign policy that was different enough, Drezner wouldn’t vote for him even if Kerry’s staff featured a collection of excellent paper pushers. [Sandy Berger? — ed. Pushers, not stuffers nor stealers.]

Perhaps it is a common opinion in the academy that one should vote for the person with the “better decision-making process,” but it seems stupid to me. We want people who know how to run a meeting? Who make sure that everyone has read the latest copy of Foreign Affairs? Who organize their Powerpoint presentations well?

Drezner must be a big fan of Action Item, professional superhero.


Of course, if the two candidates have identical positions, then you can use “process” as a tie-breaker, just as you could use looks or height or favorite color. But how often are candidate positions that similar. Moreover, whatever else you might think about Bush or Kerry, it seems hard to judge them as similar.

I can easily imagine Bush going to war against Syria or Iran (or both) in a pre-emptive fashion sometime in the next four years. I can’t imagine that Kerry would ever do such a thing. Perhaps this difference is a reason to vote for Bush. Perhaps it is a reason to vote for Kerry. But it seems suspect to think that one of these basic approaches is better (and Drezner leans more toward Bush) but to vote the other way because the staff work is better and/or more valued.

In a related post, Drezner writes

I’ll take a group of medocrities who actually listen to their staffs than supposedly brilliant men like Feith who simply block out any information that contradicts their assumptions.

Listen to the staff! The whole assumption that on the very big picture issues in politics (and life) more information and or better decision-making should lead someone to change their opinions is suspect. If you think that nationalized health care systems are best (and lots of smart people do), no amount of staff work is likely to change your mind. Nor should it.

Or course, when Drezner says “Listen to the staff”, or even “Do what the staff tell you to,” he is really urging the people in charge to follow the advice of the younger (often smarter) junior academics/think-tank folks that populate such positions in Washington — people very much like Dan Drezner.

In fact, he is really saying “Listen to me.”

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