Second-best is good enough
A little digression into presidential politics.
Robert V. Remini’s biography of Henry Clay includes this little nugget from the presidential election of 1844:
[W]hat many of Clay’s critics held against him, it seemed, was his outstanding ability. They did not want a statesman in the White House. They preferred men of lesser talents. Clay “may be a more brilliant orator” than Polk, conceded the Richmond Enquirer on October 28, “but we do not want splendid eloquence to conduct the executive department." He may be a “more dashing politician” than his opponent, “but we do not want any high flying and daring politician, who soars beyond the constitution” in pursuit of some “extravagant object. ... We want no aspiring ‘moon-reaching’ president.
The Republic will sometimes, luckily, place a Lincoln or a Franklin Roosevelt or some other exceptional person in the White House, but a look at that dim group between Jackson and Lincoln, or most of the chief magistrates between Lincoln and the first Roosevelt, among others, points to a strong recurring preference for unthreatening, genial mediocrity.