A letter from Professor B. Dan Wood of College Station, TX
I am a professor of political science at Texas A&M University. I found your broadcast to be shallow and devoid of understanding of the role that character plays in the conduct of the presidency. You should be attempting to draw on scholarly knowledge concerning what character is and how it affects the conduct of the presidency. Does it really matter in the ability of the president to do the job? Is it simply a creation of the media or is it something more ingrained in the personality of the individual occupant of the office? How do decisions vary as a function of presidential character? How does the organization of the White House and access of advisors differ as a function of personality and character.
There is ample evidence that these things do vary as a function of the style, world view, and character of the individual occupying the office. However, These are issues that historians and journalists are eminently unqualified to speak to. You should be talking to political scientists who specialize in psychological orientations of the president such as James David Barber or Fred Greenstein.
Your broadcast solicited views from only a narrow group who have little or no scientific knowledge on the subject of presidential character. If you really want answers, then you should be asking those who have studied the subject of presidential character for many years.
A letter from Jack Kelly of Urbana, IL
First, let me congratulate you on an excellent web site. This is how the Internet was meant to be used and what a web site can accomplish. The information you provide is top notch. The depth of the site makes exploring it very enjoyable. This is a web site I will return to often.
Now on the subject of character. This political season, the issue of character is boiling away on the front burner. However, why it is boiling has more to do with shallow political posturing than with a desire to improve the essential nature of our politcal process. When you cannot question a man's (or a party's) record, you attack his character. However, the method of the attack often reveals more about the attacker than the victim of the attack. Hence, you have some valuable insight into the true character of the attacker.
A person's character is revealed not only by what he/she says, but also by whom he/she associates with. Staying above the fray and allowing your subordinates to do the dirty work speaks volumes about character.
As you work on your web site, you might want to include information and speeches from those who did not succeed in the great endeavor to become the leader of the free world. I am thinking specifically of Adlai Stevenson. In his quest for the presidency, he never abandoned his principles.
Good luck on the site. I look forward to more.
A letter from Lindy Russell of Pasadena, CA
Of course, I consider the character of each candidate in selecting a President, a Leader. But, if character was THE only consideration, the history of the U.S. to date may have come out differently. How would we have fared during the war years if FDR's indescretions took precedence over his leadership abilities? Maybe we have been okay, but look what this LEADER did for our country.
I applaud all those who seek public office to serve their communities, their nation. Are we to shoot all those down for every little flaw that each opposition party turns up as campaign fodder? I say NO.
When selecting a LEADER, I take character into account, but its not the only issue. What does the candidate stand for, what issues does he/she support, if elected what are their goals and problem solving abilities.
Finally, if the individual has killed, abused, perpertrated fraud, then no way. But, extra-marital affairs, divorces, race, age, are not serious character "flaws." If so, where are all the perfect people lining up to run for office, serve their nation, and serve as outstanding leaders.
A letter from Patrick L. McHargue of Sonora, CA
The best I can wish you is luck! I think that you've really set yourself a task in this, as trying to discover any politicians' true character must be like trying to gather a bucket of prop-wash. A lot of wind, followed by an empty bucket.
At the risk of seeming too cynical, it seems to me that each of these people "discovers themselves anew" each morning -- just as soon as they discover which of the political winds can best fill their sails. That asking them to define their own character results only in their trying to define their opponent. "I am," slides seamlessly into, "He is," and we are left just to wait and see who survives.
But, that may actually be the only way. As each person's character is built upon adversity, it may be "adversaries" that best illuminate ones character.
A letter from Robert Young of Sharon, MA
The character of the person elected to serve as President is certainly important. Unfortunately the usual semantics are involved when you tackle a topic such as this. I'll be interested to see the format of "Character Above All." Probably, Americans with the highest regard for character will not be found running for high offices - the pressure is too great.
A letter from Carolyn R. Williams of Richmond, VA
I believe I recently read that there are a few Congressmen and others (like me) who feel strongly that one of the best ways for the American citizens to gain insight into the character, leadership abilities, political and social ideologies, etc. would be to require the TV and radio networks to publically air a series of electronic town meetings throughout the US where the American people can ask questions of the candidates and have them answer extemporaneously on live television with no prompting by anyone off-stage to coax them into whatever their supporters or hired "spin doctors" think is the most politically expedient answer.
We were served up every moment of the OJ Simpson murder trial, which still left us divided as to his guilt or innocence. The one elected to lead us deserves much more proper coverage and attention; so that this most important freedom and opportunity to can be decided based on a much more informed voting public. I would like to know what degree of support this would have by the other visitors to this forum.
At a later time, I'd like us to consider an aggressive campaign funding reform where the candidates not only do not have to---but are forbidden to engage in raising money by which to fund political campaigns. If the special interest groups cannot "buy" our politicians, or obligate themselves to "favorable treatment" in response to campaign donations, perhaps we could honestly get a better idea of what the candidates stand for (character, ideology, leadership philosophies, etc.). I would welcome feedback.
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