Another quality that came up frequently was “guts” or, more specifically, “guts under pressure.” This was variously defined as “Willingness to make unpopular decisions because they are the right decisions,” or being “willing and able to made a prompt decision, even when the right decision is the hardest one,” which then requires, “Toughness defined as the ability to withstand the withering criticism of your opponents” when you make those difficult decisions. For women, this quality was called “moxie.”
There was the obvious need for “wisdom,” “common sense,” and “superb judgment,” including the ability “to select and surround oneself with good advisors.” Others thought that being humble was important.
Interestingly, there was little mention of spirituality, and I spotted only one explicit call for the president to be a “born-again Christian.” And, surprisingly, with the economy being in such poor condition, there was little emphasis put on the president having practical business experience. Instead, there was the desire to have as president someone “that believes the free market is the answer to economic problems and the church, family and community have the answers to our moral problems.”
What then was the quality most desired in the president? It was “integrity,” which “covers strong moral values such as honesty, faithfulness, etc.” Directly related to this, the word “character” appeared frequently. Character and integrity are a lot harder to acquire than good grades in school!
One reader commented, “Integrity would be [number] one. . . . I learned from my father a very long [time] ago that a man’s word is his bond, if he cannot be trusted either by his wife or other men, he is not a man.” Another opined, “Integrity is more important than [guts], and seemingly non-existent in Washington.” We need a person, therefore, with “High character and a belief in moral absolutes. . . Someone that people trust. Someone with excellent character. A hard worker who is able to choose other good leaders of great character that surround him.” So we’re back to square one. If integrity is the most important quality needed for a president (although certainly not the only quality needed), who would you vote for in 2012? That certainly puts a different spin on things.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.