And yet, our last two presidents who came into the job with the most experience in Washington and in presidential politics, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, failed to get elected to a second term, though both were considered generally good leaders of their parties and the government. They failed to inspire the American people to believe in their symbolic leadership. Failing at this made their competencies as political leaders in government moot.
To be an effective president, you first have to be president. And for better or worse, the American people judge candidates primarily on how well they represent a particular vision of America and its values. After elections, they judge presidents on how well they continue to project the best that is in America, which is in part a function of how competently they lead the country in the political arena.
I am inspired by Herman Cain as a symbol of nearly all that I admire about America. And to the inspirational story that President Obama represents, Herman Cain’s brings an insider’s understanding and insight into our capitalist free-market economy, which has been struggling. Now it is time to learn more about his thoughts regarding a broader spectrum of national concerns that he, as president, would have to address. As we get clarity on his vision for America and for himself as president, we will get beneath the surface of who he is as a man.
Meanwhile, I and others like me will have to find answers to our concerns about whether his learning curve as the leader of our government in the shark tank of Washington, D.C., and as the leader of the free world in the international arena, will be too steep—and at what cost.
Bob Schoultz is a retired U.S. Navy captain and director of the Masters of Science in Global Leadership program at the University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration.
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