Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 9:56 am | Overcast 54º


Harris Sherline: Who’s Really Qualified to Be President?

Of the full slate of GOP candidates this year, not one appears to measure up completely

Every person whose name has surfaced as the possible Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election seems to have some fatal flaw. None seems to be good enough, especially after the media have picked them apart, spurred on by the Democrats, cheerleading in an effort to influence the selection of the candidate who will run against President Barack Obama.

After all, who wouldn’t like to pick the candidate for the other side — to make sure that your own man (or woman) will win?

Almost 30 potential Republican candidates — some declared, some not — had considered or have been jockeying for position in the race for the coveted prize of going head-to-head with Obama in the 2012 election.

The list includes Stewart Alexander, Michele Bachmann, Jon Bolton, Scott Brown, Robert Burck, Herman Cain, Charlie Crist, Tim Gay Sr., Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Charles Harvey, Lindsey Graham, Jon Greenspon, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Fred Karger, Andy Martin, Thad McCotter, Jimmy McMillan, Tom Miller, Roy Moore, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Wayne Allyn Root, Becky Rusher, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Joe Scarborough, Randall Terry, Allen West, R. Lee Wrights and Vern Wuensche.

Most people, including yours truly, have never heard of many of these potential or declared candidates for the highest office in the land. Their backgrounds range from a radio talk-show host to business types, current and former members of Congress, mayors, governors, state legislators, a former U.S. ambassador and retired military officers.

At this point, it looks pretty much as though Romney will get the nod, and there is already a deluge of criticism being heaped on him. He’s too rich, he’s not honest, he’s a moral fraud, he’s a liar, he’s guilty of tax fraud — those are just some of the negatives that are already being alleged about him.

However, whether it’s Romney or someone else, the question is: Who is really qualified to be president of the United States? Which qualities are desired in a potential candidate for the highest office in the land?

Here are just some that occur to me off the top of my head: Honesty? Integrity? Intelligence? Health? Ability to communicate — speak and write? Looks (physical appearance)? Tolerance? Analytical ability? Courage (guts)? Strength of character? Ability to deal with complex issues? Natural curiosity? A prolific reader (history, etc.)? Religion (which one or ones)? Toughness (will not buckle under pressure)?

It’s also interesting that height may be a factor. Wikipedia notes that, “For the 49 contested elections in which the heights of the major-party candidates are known, the tallest candidate won 26 times (about 53 percent of the elections), a shorter candidate won 19 times (about 39 percent of the elections), and the winning candidate and tallest opponent were of the same height four times (about 8 percent of the elections).”

Finally, so far a woman has not been elected president of the United States. There appears to be a bias against electing a woman to lead the nation, which sets us apart from many other countries that have elected a woman to their highest office. Many positions of leadership are held by women in America — on city councils, county boards of supervisors, state legislators, governors, congressional officeholders, and a wide variety of positions in government — yet the national electorate has yet to elect a woman president.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? Each one of the foregoing qualities or characteristics could probably be analyzed and discussed ad infinitum, and no doubt you can think of others that I have not included.

One of the problems in evaluating potential candidates is the complexity of people in general. Much as politicians may try, no one can truly be all things to all people. Somewhere along the line they invariably disappoint some of their supporters by straying from the political positions that initially attracted many voters.

There’s an unfortunate but understandable tendency for most people to judge political candidates on the basis of their own — the voters, that is — standards. Eventually no one measures up, at least not completely.

In the final analysis, many voters end up voting for someone they don’t agree with on various issues, but conclude that they don’t have another choice because the “perfect candidate” simply isn’t running.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog,

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