I was reading Dean Barnett
talking about Hackett (he calls him the "most overtly mean-spirited politician I’ve ever seen," but consider the source), and he said something interesting:
This [Hackett's supposed 24/7 mean-spiritedness] contrasts with guys like John Edwards who radiate warmth and sunshine when the cameras on but are ruthless jerks in private.
Now, I have absolutely no idea whether or not this is an accurate description of Edwards. He certainly does seem to "radiate warmth and sunshine," but I've never met the man and have no way of knowing if he's a ruthless jerk in private. But I'll tell you what - if he ends up being the nominee in 2008, I hope to God that Barnett is right about him, because that is exactly
what we need - someone who is well-liked by the public but still willing to be a ruthless son of a bitch when he needs to be. That
is a recipe for electoral success - witness George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan.
Contrast this with somebody like Barack Obama, who, in addition to radiating warmth and sunshine, actually does seem to have an aversion to political hand-to-hand - that is, he seems like a "nice guy" in public and
in private. I suppose some might see this as an admirable trait, and maybe they're right, but it's not generally something you want to see in a candidate who has to win a tough race.