What I Look For in a President

Stephen Harris

October 20, 2004

Being a modern President is and should be a fine art. It is simultaneously delicate and forceful. The President needs to be able to balance the large scale and the small scale. He needs to delegate, integrate, mediate, and mitigate. He needs to have integrity. He needs to be like the kid on the playground who looks out for the little guy but doesn’t get pushed around by the bullies. He needs to have allies big and small. He needs to respect his constituency, his friends, and his enemies. He needs to be a diplomat.

So in that vein I will try to give a diplomatic critique of our presidential candidates. However, I believe our choice to be clear. George W. Bush should not be reelected President of the United States. He is under qualified at best and dangerous at worst. Meanwhile John Kerry is qualified if not highly qualified to lead the United States. Although Ralph Nader has an agenda with noble roots, he is stubborn to put that agenda, noble as it may be, ahead of supporting the obvious candidate at a time of tense international relations. I hope that no one would vote for Ralph Nader, and if he really was noble he would drop out of the race. He can run again in the next election.

My impression of Bush is that he has a one size fits all approach to the world. He sees his courses of action as obvious choices to make, but he lacks the clarity to make those choices responsibly. He has delegated too much and is out of touch with the vast majority of people in the United States, if not the whole world. His unapologetic, unwavering, never wrong approach is dangerous. It is that attitude that enables him to label Kerry as a “flip-flopper”. Bush’s black and white high level decision-making process does not belong in the role of president. The factors involved in being president require a constant balance of a practically infinite number of moving factors. By not adapting to these factors Bush is not balancing them well. Now a lot of people are unhappy, scared, and out of work. Ironically the people who have suffered under the Bush administration are the same people Bush now oversimplifies his messages to.  “I am never wrong.” “Kerry is a flip-flopper.” “I am a war president.” Seems pretty straight forward, but it is not. A person that admits no mistakes is not to be trusted.

Meanwhile Kerry seems to base his beliefs on a broad base of knowledge and involvement at multiple levels of government, society, and the world. He strikes me as an honest, reasonable, and respectable man. The kind of man that doesn’t provoke the world into Holy wars. The kind of man who would rally support from our allies instead of alienating them. The kind of man who commands respect.

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