Presidents All Around Us
There are dozens of men and women who would make good – or even great – presidents.
By James K. Glassman
This presidential race is shaping up as a contest of dynasties — potentially setting up an election next fall that includes the exact same names that were on the ballot in 1992, Clinton vs. Bush. I’m not knocking former Secretary Hillary Clinton or former Gov. Jeb Bush, but the choice reminds me of Peggy Lee’s 1969 song, “Is That All There Is?”
In fact, it isn’t. Across this vast and varied land, there are dozens of men and women who would make good — or even great — presidents. They come from business, the military, the nonprofit sector and academia. Some are current or former elected officials who are officially independent. Others are affiliated with the two major parties, but because of litmus tests on such issues as abortion, gay rights, immigration or taxes have no chance of being nominated as a Democrat or Republican. (At the end of this article, I list 15 of my own suggestions for a wider field.)
In an interview recently, I asked Roger Porter, the Harvard scholar who served in the White House under Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, what it takes for a president to be successful. Porter identified three categories of presidential endeavor: administrative (running the most complex institution in the world), legislative (initiating policy and building coalitions to get it enacted) and rhetorical (moving individuals, organizations and governments to “make different decisions than they would otherwise make”).