Every career idealist must possess some political skills that enable him to actually implement his visionary goals; and every career politician must have a touch of idealism to make his down-to-earth political efforts worthwhile and morally justifiable. The character traits need each other.
Most politicians—be they Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Green, left or right—somewhere deep down in their quiet pools of thought, have visions of a better world for all peoples. However briefly in the night, they, too, dream of utopia, of the masses having sufficient warmth, shelter, clothing and food. Of a kinder, gentler world. That momentary reverie is as instinctive as compassion itself, as basic as a beating heart.
What distinguishes Bush and Cheney from most run-of-the-mill politicians is they seem not to have the slightest bit of idealism in their character. That trait is a stranger to their thinking as both of them exemplify free market pragmatism. Their focus is on the art of wealth.
Does McCain or Obama possess idealism? Time will tell.