John Dickerson, Author of The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency

Published on17 JUL 2020

In this episode of Talks at GS, author and 60 Minutes correspondent John Dickerson shares his insights on the evolution of the presidency and presidential campaigns. 

On the disconnects between presidential campaigning and the presidency: “Basically, running for the job requires a whole different set of skills than being successful in the job. And the problem is with people who have run large organizations and who have shown an aptitude and have the scars to prove it and accumulated the wisdom that is required to run within a big, large structure. Those people operate in a certain set of ways that make it very difficult for them to campaign. Campaigning is a very weird and brutal thing, which we've come to see as a prerequisite for doing well in office.” 

On the state of presidential campaign coverage: “I got into the business because of the drama, but that wasn't the only reason, but the sweeping narrative and drama of a presidential campaign is absolutely so alluring and so fantastic. And I wrote my last book all about presidential campaigns of the past because they're wonderful and amazing dramas…. There are a couple of things. One, campaigns used to be more substantive, even though… substance wasn't always at the heart of them, but candidates used to have to make arguments. And in the arguments they used to have to build a case, and the case was at least loosely associated with the fact…. So policy has kind of fallen out, even though it was never at the center. I think policy is one part and then attributes are the other, and this is one area where I do think people do have an appetite for discussions about leadership and what makes great leaders … I think it's the job of the press to spend more of its time focusing on attributes.”

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