I believe a mastery of American history and politics is a must for any president, for it is a record of how others have led the country since its founding. The degree to which one comprehends America's ebbs and flows parallels one's proficiency to lead. As the adage goes, if one doesn't know history, he is doomed to repeat its mistakes.
Knowledge of other nations is essential, too, as it will determine how the next president moves America's chess pieces on a global scale.
7) Who has the best ability to influence a volatile world away from the brink of destruction?
These are dangerous times. Mexican cartels are clashing at our borders. Global terrorists have taken their jihad to the borderless Internet. China has become the new superpower. Global markets are bouncing up and down. The Arab Spring has sprung unrest across the Middle East. Syria is in utter turmoil. Egypt, Libya and now North Korea have unclear futures. Iran is determined to add nuclear energy to its arsenal, heightening its strained relations with the West. America is still in a war with extremists in Afghanistan. We're also in a new warless battle to quell violent uprisings back in Iraq.
Now is not the time for a political novice, wimp or sheepish patriot in the Oval Office. More than ever, we need a profoundly wise person like Thomas Jefferson, who moved along a flailing new republic while maneuvering a war with Tripoli, or like Ronald Reagan, who was savvy and tough enough to build up the economy while toppling the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall.
6) Who has clear and present moral fortitude?
For our Founding Fathers, moral fortitude was dependent upon the liberties of religion, not the laws of men. Samuel Adams was correct when he wrote in a 1749 essay, "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt."
Temptations are abundant when power is combined with position, and none is greater than the presidency. That is why it is mandatory that the next occupant of the White House demonstrate a life mastery over himself and the wiles of evil and corruption.
That doesn't mean the next president must be perfect, but he must be a moral model and have the ability to admit faults and learn from mistakes.
I believe what George Washington said: "A good moral character is the first essential in a man." But I also believe this Washington quote: "We must take human nature as we find it. Perfection falls not to the share of mortals."
Character is a pre-eminent qualification for leadership, but we must never penalize one's past in such a way that prevents him from progressing forward into a forgiven and fruitful future; lest we forget, some of the greatest national leaders in human history, such as King David of Israel, committed heinous acts of immorality.
Indeed, the real dilemma for many regarding this race for the GOP nomination is discerning whether to choose the unblemished and relatively inexperienced youthful shepherd in the field or the veteran of war who battled Goliath long ago but slung mud on his own face when doing so.
Next week, I will discuss the remaining five questions, including the critical economic ones. Until then, for further study of where each GOP candidate stands on these and other critical issues, check out the Family Research Council's voter guide.