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Modern PresidentsPosted Thursday, September 27, 2012, at 7:22 PM
I have often wondered how it is that a country of 300 million citizens can't produce at least two good candidates for President.
You would like to think that at least one person in a million, perhaps one in 10 million, would make an excellent candidate.
Instead, for the past 100 years, the choices have been surprisingly pitiful.
Statistically, they can't all be great presidents, but you would at least expect them all to be great men.
A scan through the 20th Century shows only a couple presidents who were truly great: Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley.
It seems to me that the three primary qualities necessary for a great President are good character, leadership and vision.
Good character means that the person focuses more on his responsibilities than himself.
It means that he or she does good even when no one is looking. It means that the person takes every clause in the oath of office seriously, and if he does not, he should either work to change the oath or serve in some other capacity.
Presidents get far too much credit when times are good and far too much blame when times are bad. Ultimately, the responsibility for the running of the government belongs to the Congress.
Presidents control administrative agencies, the parts of government that are named after spoonfuls of alphabet soup. But even then, Congress created those agencies and have the authority to regulate or abolish them.
This is where leadership separates great Presidents from the rest. No matter what you think of Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, there is no denying that they were both great leaders.
President Roosevelt, as commander-in-chief, successfully led America through the greatest armed struggle in human history.
Ronald Reagan successfully led America through one of the most difficult parts of the Cold War and was able to get Congress, which was controlled by the other party, to implement most of his agenda.
Vision is what separates the candidates.
Vision is what tells the voters where the president intends to take the country.
A good sense of vision does not reveal all of the day-to-day decisions and all of the twists and turns, but what the target is as we weave our way through the obstacles, which will always appear.
For example, while Congressman Ron Paul lacks leadership, his vision on both domestic and international matters is crystal clear.
Based on his behavior and statements made many years ago, President Obama's vision is of an egalitarian society where our good intentions as a nation brings admiration and international peace.
I wish I could tell you with certainty what candidate Romney's vision is. I suspect that he perceives that our nation can be governed like a business, that military deterrence is important but we should also fund "1,000 points of light," around the globe to get the world to love us.
So, does either candidate for president have the qualities of good character, leadership and vision?
It would be an easier question to answer if they had the courage to honestly tell the American people what they stand for in simple, unambiguous language.
But courage they have not.
Either they have defects of character or are too modest to discuss the matter.
Good leaders lead from the front.
Both of our candidates prefer to "lead from behind."
Both candidates are afraid to share their vision with us because it is more important to them to get a vote than tell us unequivocally what they stand for.
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