Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Characteristics Should the President Have?

Article first published as What Characteristics Should the President Have? on Blogcritics.

In an earlier article I rated the presidential candidates on whimsical criteria, mostly based on some common characteristics (not to be confused with character) that past presidents had.  Today I want to rate them using some different metrics – character traits.  The President of the United States is the face of the American people that the world sees.  He, or she, should be the best foot that we put forward in dealing with other nations.  He, or she, should be the best of the best of the best.

Who would volunteer for the job of president?  The weight of a large portion of the world rests on their shoulders, and at any point of their time in office, approximately half of the country (frequently much more) is gunning for them over one issue or another.  Given what they have to go through to get it, and what is said, or done, to them while in office, you would think we would have to force someone to be president.

The president’s job can’t be described as easy, but in principle it is simple: sign or veto bills; command the armed forces; preside over the executive branch of the government; nominate high judges; and a few other mostly ceremonial duties.  Sure, there is some detail behind this list, and I’m certainly not saying that just anyone could do the job, but no one is forcing it on them either.  But let’s assume that a person with above-average intelligence and a minimum of organizational capability could do the job.  What other characteristics should they have?

There are some basic qualities that we should expect from any candidate for president, and I’m sure that you can come up with your own list.  Here are some, stolen unashamedly from the Character Counts organization:

Trustworthiness (T)
Being honest, don’t cheat, steal, or deceive
Being reliable, doing what you say, having the courage to do the right thing
Respect (Rs)
Being tolerant of others and accepting of differences
Dealing peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
Responsibility (Rb)
Planning and perseverance, self-control and self-discipline
Accountability for your words and actions
Fairness (F)
Being open minded and listening
Don’t blame others for your faults
Caring (Cr)
Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness
Citizenship (Cz)
Obeying laws, protecting the environment
Voting and volunteering

Using these traits, and rating the current crop of GOP candidates, who stands out?  For some there is more history to go on and less for others, some have hate blogs, and others love-me pages.  I’m not going to go into a full analysis here – your opinion of what sources to use and how to analyze it is almost as valid as mine – do your own analysis.  For developing the scores I used their Wiki pages, PolitiFact, The Washington Post Congress Votes database, and Googling for specific facts.  I’m giving a score of 1 -10 on each trait, with a highest total score of 60 possible.

Gingrich:  T, not very truthful and those ethics violations; Rs, not very tolerant; Rb, fairly accountable; F, not very open-minded; Cr, not very compassionate; Cz, seems wishy-washy on environment.  28 / 47%

Romney:  T, not real truthful; Rs, so-so on tolerance; Rb, seems accountable; F, so-so open-minded; Cr, seems to care; Cz, fairly pro-environment.  36 / 60%

Bachmann:  T, not very truthful; Rs, lack of tolerance; Rb, a bit flaky on facts; F, not open-minded; Cr, just for the 23 foster kids; Cz, not a good friend to the environment but not bad on voting.  37 / 62%

Perry:  T, makes a lot of false statements; Rs, not very tolerant; Rb, I don’t see anything wrong here; F, fairly open-minded; Cr, pretty hard-core on the death penalty; Cz, not at all a friend of the environment.  38 / 63%

Santorum:  T, for flip-flopping on gay rights and ethics over the NWS thing; Rs, for lack of tolerance; Rb, for lack of forethought; F, for not being open-minded; Cr, for the ACLU suit; Cz, just a little off (his voting record is pretty good).  39 / 65%

Huntsman:  T, fairly truthful; Rs, pretty tolerant; Rb, seems responsible; F, quite open-minded; Cr, also caring and compassionate; Cz, seems to care for the environment.  44 / 73%

Paul:  T, pretty trustworthy; Rs, pretty tolerant; Rb, quite responsible; F, quite open minded; Cr, very caring and compassionate; Cz, fair on voting fair on voting and fair environmentalist.  46 / 77%

This has a very different look than my first try at rating the candidates.  I would be interested in what others come up with using these traits and your own sources for filling in the scores.  Below is my chart.

I still think that something like this is what the country needs to use to evaluate every politician.


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