Leader or Expert – Choosing a President

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Leader or Expert – Choosing a President

Son,

Mitt Romney claims that leadership is more important than expertise on topic. “They are looking for judgment, wisdom, willingness to reach out to others, gaining the right information to make choices… Instead of asking who has the most expertise we should be asking who has the most executive leadership experience…. ” Very interesting points.

John McCain says “Maybe we haven’t gotten the best results from choosing Governors…” Another interesting point.

They are both correct, so far as they go with the argument. Romney and McCain go around with each other – that’s what candidates do. But the point is made – what are we looking for in choosing a President?

Expertise is useful. Executive experience is useful. Knowledge is useful. Let’s look at history – who are generally accepted by historians as great Presidents? Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman? We’ll stop there for the sake of argument. Had any of these men ever been a Governor of a State? Were any of these men Christian Ministers? Had any of these men served in the Congress? How did their past experience influence their Presidency?

Senators will say they understand best. Governors will claim they have Executive experience. Even Mayors will make this claim.

The best Presidents were men who were intellectual, mature and responsible. They were leaders who were able to make decisions based on what was best for the country rather than what was best for them or their party. They were not interested in personal power. They had firm understandings of the role of government. They worried about the future of the country more than about their personal legacy.

Washington, Adams, and Jefferson were founding fathers who participated in forming this government – one might expect them to have a profound understanding of how the thing was supposed to work. Lincoln came from the State Government of Illinois, a man of legislative experience. Each of the Roosevelt’s were men of extreme personal confidence which translated into the courage of their convictions. Franklin had been a Governor. Truman was the last President who did not graduate from college. Truman drove a horse drawn plow until he was 33 years old, then participated in the military in WWI, as a County Executive, and then in the Senate – he had a fundamental understanding of working class people, of national security, of Executive management, and of the legislator – but his real value was in his personal self confidence. He was comfortable enough with himself to allow George Marshall to rebuild Europe – and for Marshall to get the credit.

Great Presidents have come from all walks of life. It is not about their personal experience – it is about what they have learned from their experience. The Presidency will offer challenges beyond what any of them really imagine – ask George Bush about this. What prepares a man or woman to face those sometimes horrific challenges?

This is an critical time in the history of this great country. I am pretty sure we don’t need someone who just tows a Party Line, or makes decisions based on polls.

Dad

Readers: I corrected an error noted in the comments. Thanks – Ohg

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Good advice – and factual/interesting. I don’t know that FDR was one of the top 7 ‘best ever’. He was certainly popular – but some have said he was the first president to act as, “Fairy Godmother” instead of President. Chicken in every pot; “Elect me and Gov’t will take care of you” – that sort of thing.
    My advice to a son on choosing a President would first include a re-reading of the Constitution. A President is not a Fairy Godmother to turn the bumpkins’ pumpkins into carriages. The President is first and foremost the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Secondly, the President is the Chief Executive – rather like a CEO, but the US gov’t is not a corporation so it is a more formal “Head of State” to meet and greet other heads of state. The president has a Veto power over legislation, and nominates Supreme Court Justices. And (almost) finally, the President submits a draft budget to Congress.
    It’s not the economy, stupid; a President has nothing at all to do with the economy – or jobs – or recessions – or trade. The draft budget can have suggestions and allowances for tax revenue (e.g., the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts”) but the President cannot and does not set the tax rates. A President is not the big HR dept. in D.C! He cannot give you free medical insurance or ‘universal health care’ – he cannot grant or recind any of the myriad entitlements! (He could make suggestions to cabinet members or lawmakers, but it is not within his executive powers to give universal health care to any or all.)
    Given the (actually) narrow responsibilities of the President, there could be a slight advantage to the Executive (Governor, CEO) over the Legislator (Senator, Rep) but someone from either background can do the job well – if they would stick to what Presidents are supposed to do and not try to be a pandering poll-driven Fairy Godmother.

  2. Oops… John Adams was our second president; John Q. (Quincy) Adams was his son, the sixth president, and not one of the great presidents at all…

    Ken – you are correct – I thought about this after the fact. Good thing I am not a real journalist. – Ohg.

  3. I know this may sound ‘politically correct’ (LOL) but it’s true, I think you both made some very good points. However, I have to second MJ Charb’s remarks – well said! I think the politicians AND the media only contribute to this delusional way of thinking which is why I am VERY selective about the coverage I chose to watch.

    The only thing I would like to add to what has already been said is that there IS a common attribute that all of our historically “great” Presidents possessed; it’s one that either we have forgotten or are afraid to admit – I’m not sure which, perhaps both? And that is, even while having VERY different beliefs in ‘doctrine’, ALL of them were ‘God Fearing’ men who actually possessed a fear for the consequences of their actions.

    Why is that important? If you give a lot of power (as in influence) and authority to someone who doesn’t have a deep seeded fear for ALL of their actions (both publicly and privately) then you are planting a seed for corruption to eventually give in and take hold. I think most would agree, men and women of great faith and integrity believe that both their actions AND their motives are transparent to a greater superior being and therefore are a LOT less likely to give in to peer and/or political pressure.

    A TRUE ‘God Fearing’ (or whatever you prefer to call him) man or woman cannot be bought. And THAT my friend is Washington D.C.’s biggest weakness…$$$. There are too many individuals doing too many things for ALL the wrong reasons. However, so long as we naively and ignorantly look the other way or even play along – WE are actually part of the problem.

    So what would do (or would) I look for in a potentially GREAT Political Leader and President of the United States? I would suggest that you ask yourself this question about each candidate: Who is their Master and to whom do they serve? For no man can serve two masters.

    In my office I have a famous portrait of our first great leader, President George Washington praying in the snow at the side of his horse at Valley Forge (By: A Friberg) along with the concluding words of his farewell address, resigning his commission as General of the Continental Army on Dec. 28, 1783 which reads:

    “I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them into his holy keeping.”

    This great man and others like him should be the rule rather than the exception. We just need to raise our standards.

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