You sometimes hear that so-and-so is “Presidential,” or ” Presidential material,” or perhaps “not Presidential” or “Presidential material.” I strongly suspect that Presidential, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. I’m not at all certain anyone knows for certain what the adjective Presidential really means, but, like some shoppers who “will know it when they see it,” it seems to exist. Similarly, it is somewhat like art, “I don’t know if that is art or not, but I know what I like.” I can’t speak for others, but for me, I cannot see any of the current Republican candidates as Presidential.
I have heard it said more than once that Mitt Romney is Presidential. Usually this is because he is nice looking, well groomed, stands tall, and is an experienced businessman. But I want a President who has convictions, and the will to stand up for his convictions. Romney appears to have no convictions (other than wanting to be President), he has changed his position on virtually everything you can name. He is, as is becoming well known, a chronic “flip-flopper,” apparently a man with the courage of no convictions. If a candidate claims that after further, more mature consideration, he or she changed their mind about some important matter, that is one thing, but when a candidate has changed his mind on virtually every issue that claim is just not convincing. I do not find Romney Presidential. As far as being good looking or handsome goes, that would be a plus for a candidate but is basically not that important.
After his disastrous speech in New Hampshire you can write off Rick Perry for Presidents. If ever there was a speech more un-Presidential I don’t know where it could have been or who could have delivered it. I want a President who is able to make a fine and inspirational speech. Perry’s speech had “yokel” written all over it. Given his poor performance in the debates, and now this, I’m pretty sure he is finished. He is not, in my opinion, even remotely Presidential.
Herman Cain, like Perry, has demonstrated his rather abysmal ignorance when it comes to Foreign Policy and even American politics. I do not want a President who is demonstrably ignorant about such things. I don’t personally believe Cain was even a serious candidate in the first place, and now, coming under more careful scrutiny, will almost surely fade. I don’t know if the accusations of sexual harassment are true or not, but they will surely hurt him in any case. As Presidential he is little more than a clown. I can’t see that singing about Jesus is going to help him.
Ron Paul is also, to me, obviously non-Presidential. This is because he promotes policies and ideas that are just intrinsically stupid. We are not going to return to the gold standard, nor, hopefully, are we going to return to the medical system of the 19th century. The basic idea that government should play little or no role in our lives is simply absurd in the complex society we currently live in. Besides, Paul comes across as a kind of Pa Kettle figure, not at all Presidential.
As far as the other three candidates go, if you added them together and multiplied by ten you would still not have a Presidential candidate. Michele Bachmann is quite likely far too ignorant to be taken seriously and says things regularly that are demonstrably untrue and even sometimes absurd. Who would want a President that lies and makes things up?
Rick Santorum is about as un-Presidential as a person can be, obsessed with his homophobia and far right attitudes. He says he would make homosexuality illegal if he could. No doubt he would also make being red-headed illegal, or left-handedness illegal. He obviously has no knowledge of homosexuality and apparently has made no attempt to know anything about it. Ignorance and obsession is not Presidential.
Newt Gingrich, the mouth that roars, that says anything that pops into his head at the moment no matter how absurd or ridiculous is equally non-Presidential. I guess he believes that having established himself as probably the worst hypocrite that ever lived, and having failed as Speaker of the House, he is somehow entitled to consideration as a candidate. I would prefer that my President not be a known hypocrite or someone who is so egocentric as to believe the world his hanging on his every pontification. A President should be someone who has charisma, a commanding presence, not a dumpy little has-been hypocrite with an oversized ego.
In addition to their personal undesirable characteristics, all of these candidates also espouse beliefs that I would find completely unacceptable in a Presidential candidate. As far as I know they are all anti-abortion (even though it is established law) and would agree to overturn Roe vs Wade. They also are all for doing away with Social Security and Medicare as we know it. They seem to agree that anything that might help labor or the middle class as opposed to the obscenely wealthy is unacceptable. As far as I know they all question global warming and evolution, and thus science in general, something that to me is absolutely unacceptable in a President. And, of course they are all pro-business and want to do away with regulations they insist make business more difficult and expensive, like protecting the environment, water, air, natural resources, and so on. They seek short term gain at the cost of the environment, have no vision for the future, and that is definitely non-Presidential. They all seem to be perfectly willing to put party ahead of the national interest no matter what the cost to ordinary citizens or to our international reputation. I guess that with the exception of Ron Paul, they are all pro-Pentagon, pro-“war,” pro-empire, and mindlessly pro-Israel no matter what the facts may be. And they all cling to the belief that lower taxes and smaller government are the solutions to all our problems. They are, in short, to a person, as non-Presidential as it is possible to be, at least to satisfy my ideas of Presidential. I would like somehow who actually thinks for him/herself, is seriously interested in governing, is fair minded, can make a meaningful and inspiring speech, knows enough of science to understand it and it’s crucial importance in our lives, and has a vision for the future.
Those who hate Obama will of course not agree with me, but in spite of many faults I can find with him, and in spite of several things he has done with which I emphatically do not agree, I must confess I think he is in fact Presidential.
If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read "President Can't Swim".
Lyndon B. Johnson