advertisement

Characteristics and requirements for a president

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | 11:09 a.m. CDT; updated 2:39 p.m. CST, Monday, February 2, 2009

One of the early political lessons I learned from my dad was this evaluation of presidents: "Franklin Roosevelt showed us that an individual could be president for life; Harry Truman that anyone could be president; Dwight Eisenhower that we may not really need one; and several others that we might be better off without one." I have searched high and low for the author of that quote and, finding none, I have concluded that my politically astute father may have been the originator.

I bring this up neither to denigrate nor to cast doubt on our leaders but rather to identify some of the characteristics of that office and an understanding of the leadership requirements in driving the ship of state. In his presidency, FDR did institute a "welfare state" mentality, one which has flourished among the proponents of the "your government knows best" philosophy, robbing many of any sense of responsibility or obligation. Nevertheless, Roosevelt proved to be a bold, intuitive and resourceful president who guided us and the rest of the world to victory in World War II.

Harry Truman, thrust into office after FDR's death, was an unassuming and relatively unknown Missouri senator. He had but a high school diploma and was the fourth choice of the state Democratic machine to run for that office in 1934. When informed he was FDR's choice for vice president after Henry Wallace was dumped from the ticket, he responded in his soon-to-be-recognized rhetoric, "Hell with him, I am supporting Jimmy Byrnes."

His reluctance notwithstanding, this erstwhile "political nobody" became our 33rd president and was the epitome of decisiveness, courage, responsibility and plain spoken rhetoric — a true man of the people. Similar to President Bush in approval rating (a high of 92 and a low of 19 percent), Truman's popularity approval vacillated from 87 percent in 1945 to 22 percent in 1951 during the Korean War. He will always be remembered for his rare courage in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the unpopular but necessary firing of General MacArthur, his unwavering pursuit of victory in Korea and his unerring "the buck stops here" sense of responsibility.

President Eisenhower, in office from 1952 to 1960, had the good fortune to preside over a period of relative peace and prosperity and had the good judgment to recognize it — accordingly, he governed with a light hand. His legacy was the Interstate Highway System that made coast-to-coast and border-to-border travel a pleasant reality. Paralleling Ike's political acumen in avoidance of fixing something not broken was that of President Clinton. While hardly a paragon of character or of integrity, Mr. Clinton also possessed the keen political insight to keep the train on track by merely oiling the wheels as opposed to an engine overhaul.

Arguably, in my memory, the president we may have been better off without was Mr. Carter, but that is water under the bridge. The qualities that one should consider in choosing the best qualified candidate are his perceived capacity to act firmly and decisively in time of domestic or foreign crises and to recognize the difference between crisis and routine. Leadership and courage are traits indispensable for president and commander in chief.

Campaign rhetoric and promises are designed to frighten or to reassure, but typically, provide more entertainment than substance. Every four years, as regularly as clockwork, the opposing candidates decry negative campaigning and mudslinging, each accusing the other of the most egregious and untrue attacks. Senators Obama and McCain are not appreciably different in this respect from previous office seekers — is anyone so naive as to expect opponents to campaign for one another?

The sincerity of their promises to the contrary, neither candidate will rid the government of evil lobbyists, create jobs, hire more teachers, provide universal health care, end dependence on petroleum products, tax our way out of debt or personally roust Osama bin Ladin from his cave. The president is responsible to the people for enforcing the laws, conducting foreign policy, protecting our shores in his capacity as commander in chief and providing policy guidance to the legislature. In short, the presidency is an action position as opposed to a debating society or committee activity.

Either candidate is eligible by constitutional standard and both are also presumed honest and sincere. To determine which possesses the decisive leadership traits is not cut and dried as both are senators with limited executive experience. Nevertheless, investigation of Obama's voting record in the Illinois Senate is an indicator — his propensity for voting "present" on legislation is hardly an endorsement of his resolute decisiveness.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.

 


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Nicole Kesil October 1, 2008 | 8:09 p.m.

For the reasons in the aformentioned news letter, are the absolute reason Obama is not ready to lead this Country.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 2, 2008 | 4:50 a.m.

Oh so you want another four years of failed Bush policies,more deficit,more extended wars,more tax breaks for big oil,big corporations,more burden on the lower class? You really need to be studying the issues and not voting on people themselves.
As I said if you are not studying and voting on the issues themselves you need your head checked.
If you want to see one huge difference in their policies on a issue look here:
http://obama.3cdn.net/8b346e079dc77a9c0b...
http://www.pdfdownload.org/pdf2html/pdf2...
http://www.pdfdownload.org/pdf2html/pdf2...
The differences are clear. Don't look at the people look at the policies being presented.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 2, 2008 | 8:59 a.m.

So how is Obama spending all this extra money on social programs going to reduce the deficit? By taxing wealthy people until they move somewhere else? Look at what happened to Britian in the 1960's if you want an example on what excessively taxing the wealthy can do to a countries tax base.

It's one thing to promise the expansion of social programs. It's totally another thing to deliver. If you think any of this will come to pass under Obama's watch, YOU need you head checked.

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 2, 2008 | 10:29 a.m.

The problem is Mark Foecking that citizens like you have been negative by nature for so long about any and all taxations of the rich that is all you know.

I would rather give my vote to the guy talking and presenting sound policies to help fix the issues that need to be fixed than to give my vote to somebody who is only going to cut cut cut and cut some more so the rich can get richer,pushing more middle class into poverty and the ones in poverty out into the streets.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 2, 2008 | 11:43 a.m.

Do you understand that letting rich people invest their own money creates jobs, where confiscating and redistributing that money stifles that? That the Soviet Union made sure they had no rich people by taking the fruits of labor from the productive and giving it to the unproductive?

Everyone has opportunities. You could start a business tomorrow, and if you do it right, you'd wind up as one of those despised rich people. It happens all the time.

The middle class is actually quite well off - they just don't think so. Compared to how they live when I was young, they have bigger houses, more cars and appliances, more gadgets, more everything. There is just so much more stuff to spend money on, that a lot of people (who should know better) get themselves into trouble trying to own it all.

Google "voluntary simplicity". This should be the message that a presidiential candidate should be preaching.

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 2, 2008 | 12:03 p.m.

>> Do you understand that letting rich people invest their own money creates jobs, where confiscating and redistributing that money stifles that? <<

I disagree on the account the rich are only out for the rich at common tax payer/consumer expense.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 2, 2008 | 12:52 p.m.

Right. And by allowing them to invest (for themselves), to make even more money (a lot of which goes to important charities), a lot of businesses happen that would not if that money had been taken away and distributed to less productive people.

The rich make our consumer oriented society possible, by investing in the methods of production. The consumer doesn't have to use any of the stuff they produce - that's how markets operate. If they're making the wrong stuff, they start making the right stuff, or they go out of business. Again, the consumer is in control. The rich would not be rich unless they give the consumer something they need.

Why do you have this vendetta against wealthy people, Chuck? If you started a business, and did all the right things, you could be one too.

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 2, 2008 | 3:33 p.m.

You so miss the point still but here is a real scenario that I know for a fact worked back then as it would work now if people were more responsible with the money they take home after taxes.

My own Father who was disabled at the age of 15 years old went to college to become a electrical/mechanical/architectural draftsman. He graduated after going 6 years due to he wanted extra learning knowledge. He was hired by a major power company in Northern California where he invested his money into for his retirement and he payed his taxes as he was required by law with out much squabble as you hear people now squealing like little children. He also had a great tax/accountant provider who took care of all of his books for him and a lawyer always on stand by as well.

We lived modestly in a three bedroom home in a nice community. Mt father owned a pick up that got us around just fine for quite some many years. We had Health Care Insurance,eye and dental as well.

My father did not over extend himself as most households do today,he invested his money wisely and when he could no longer work at the age of 55 years old when his disability got the better of him he took a Medical Retirement after 35 years with his company and he retired as the top draftsman in his department. All of this while not having or wanting to see government privatize anything. My father is set for life with no worry of money.House is paid and he hires his own in home health care attendant.

My father I am sure is laughing at or more than likely feeling sorry for all of those families today who cannot see the forest through the trees and only want more more more so they can spend spend spend and over extend themselves on credit. My father only bought his truck and our house on credit and that was it. Nothing More. If we did need something it was payed for out of his savings and usually in cash whether it was new house furniture or even new wood shop or machine shop equipment for his hobbies he enjoyed.

The point is if people would stop over extending their budgets they would have that money they need with out government having to listen to people like you Mark crying about Privatizing Social Security or Health Care.

Mark it is called growing up and being accountable for all of those things you just had to have. Just like everybody else is accountable as well.

If people cannot wisely invest their money now do you honestly think they will under privatization? Be real man and take off the rose colored blinders. This is 2008 and people are no more responsible with their credit than they were 8 years ago.

That is fact Mark and Privatizing Social Security and Health Care will make it even worse for everybody especially when the Government has to go bail them out just like they are bailing out all Street right now.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 2, 2008 | 3:33 p.m.

You so miss the point still but here is a real scenario that I know for a fact worked back then as it would work now if people were more responsible with the money they take home after taxes.

My own Father who was disabled at the age of 15 years old went to college to become a electrical/mechanical/architectural draftsman. He graduated after going 6 years due to he wanted extra learning knowledge. He was hired by a major power company in Northern California where he invested his money into for his retirement and he payed his taxes as he was required by law with out much squabble as you hear people now squealing like little children. He also had a great tax/accountant provider who took care of all of his books for him and a lawyer always on stand by as well.

We lived modestly in a three bedroom home in a nice community. Mt father owned a pick up that got us around just fine for quite some many years. We had Health Care Insurance,eye and dental as well.

My father did not over extend himself as most households do today,he invested his money wisely and when he could no longer work at the age of 55 years old when his disability got the better of him he took a Medical Retirement after 35 years with his company and he retired as the top draftsman in his department. All of this while not having or wanting to see government privatize anything. My father is set for life with no worry of money.House is paid and he hires his own in home health care attendant.

My father I am sure is laughing at or more than likely feeling sorry for all of those families today who cannot see the forest through the trees and only want more more more so they can spend spend spend and over extend themselves on credit. My father only bought his truck and our house on credit and that was it. Nothing More. If we did need something it was payed for out of his savings and usually in cash whether it was new house furniture or even new wood shop or machine shop equipment for his hobbies he enjoyed.

The point is if people would stop over extending their budgets they would have that money they need with out government having to listen to people like you Mark crying about Privatizing Social Security or Health Care.

Mark it is called growing up and being accountable for all of those things you just had to have. Just like everybody else is accountable as well.

If people cannot wisely invest their money now do you honestly think they will under privatization? Be real man and take off the rose colored blinders. This is 2008 and people are no more responsible with their credit than they were 8 years ago.

That is fact Mark and Privatizing Social Security and Health Care will make it even worse for everybody especially when the Government has to go bail them out just like they are bailing out Wall Street right now.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 2, 2008 | 3:59 p.m.

Chuck, I'm 30 years from retirement and I don't expect to see a dime of Social Security. Many people my age are the same way. We'll either be taxing our children and grandchildren into the ground, or break a promise to retirees. My wife and I are taking care of ourselves by investing in our own retirement. Should I be punished for being responsible?

The money I am putting into Social Security is making almost nothing in the way of a return on investment. It also takes away from the nest egg I could leave my children or their children to advance themselves in the world (downpayment for a house, money for a college education, etc.).

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 2, 2008 | 4:50 p.m.

Chuck, I have everything I need even if I never earned a dime again in my life, and all of it is paid for. I am the most frugal and careful person you've ever met.

If I had been able to invest the money I sent to Social Security over my 31 year career in science, I'd have a retirement portfolio worth about $200,000, in addition to what I've saved on my own. And I've never made very much money relatively speaking (science doesn't pay well in academia).

If I retire at age 65, and had continued to invest that 7.6%, I'd have $420,000.

Retiring at age 66.7, with a life expectancy after that of 13 years, I would get about $1,500/month. That's $234,000. So I've just flushed about $200,000 down the toilet (actually, into the hands of people other then myself) by having to pay into Social Security.

If someone is too shortsighted not to plan for their own retirement, why should I bail them out? Let them fail. I'm not so worried about the institution, particularly if it is conservative and well managed (like some of our local banks).

DK

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 2, 2008 | 5:43 p.m.

As I said above it worked for my father back in the day so why can't it work now? I'll tell you because Americana as a whole does not want it to work they want to be greedy and selfish and only think of themselves first instead of America as a whole first. That is our problem as a society these days is the me me me syndrome. Back in the day even your fathers would have told you if you want it go out and work for it. The same should apply today in raising your own kids in having them get out and work for it and then maybe they will appreciate it that much more.

Too many times today everything that today's kids have is handed to them by mommy and daddy and we have ended up in the mess we have today.

I had to bust my hump for what little I had growing up. I was not given an allowance as my fathers paycheck had bigger priorities I learned to respect before my own.

Nothing is for free guys and neither should you be giving your kids their future for free either if you actually want to them to appreciate how hard life really is.

That is the problem with our society as a whole is kids growing up are not taught hard work and investing what they have left of their paycheck after taxes will get them what they want from a young age but they are taught the power of the all mighty credit card instead.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 2, 2008 | 7:21 p.m.

Actually, Americans are some of the most generous people on Earth. We gave $300 billion dollars to charity in 2006. Even in the Depression, people helped people in need.

What does the rest of your post have to do with privatizing Social Security?

DK

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements