Presidential Historian: The Four Most Important Qualities of a President

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New York Times bestselling author Michael Beschloss bases his discussion of the 2012 presidential candidates on something not a lot of political speakers have — first-hand experience with major political leaders and a deep historical perspective of presidential highs and lows.

The Harvard graduate describes himself as a registered independent and frequents NBC News, PBS NewsHour and The Daily Show among other outlets where he provides political commentary. Beschloss has written nine highly-acclaimed books and is actively involved in a great number of prestigious governmental institutions.

More recently, he visits college campuses and presidential libraries to inform communities about major political turning points past, present and future. Beschloss spoke Thursday on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus about prominent qualities that the greatest U.S. presidents had and how they apply to our current candidates.

“It’s been true for most of American history, but I think it’s more true ever given what Congress is like– it is very helpful if you have a president who almost chemically and biologically wants to form friendships on Capitol Hill,” Beschloss said.

Beschloss feels that a president needs to be able to:

  1. Do the right thing even if it’s unpopular, which is something Beschloss feels is best exemplified in President Lincoln as well as President George Washington. Beschloss wrote a New York Times bestselling book on this called “Presidential Courage.”
  2. Communicate to the nation why certain decisions need to be made. Again he speaks specifically about decisions that may be unpopular. In short, he feels presidents should have good communication and oratorical abilities.
  3. Understand those decisions in historical context. Here, The author stressed the importance of being able to relate current political decisions to historical decisions and more importantly: remember how is affected the nation.
  4. Cooperate with those who disagree. Beschloss clarifies that this is not a partisan issue. But in a general sense, a president needs to be able understand why people with radically different beliefs share a particular perspective.

The discussion took place after a disheartening month for the Romney campaign. Recently, Mitt Romney was caught on a hidden camera claiming that 47 percent of Americans are not taking personal responsibilities for their lives and then released his tax reports that showed that he had paid a smaller percent in taxes than the average American who made less than $60,000 last year.

Both Mitt Romney and Vice President nominee Paul Ryan have struggled with number two on Beschloss’ list throughout their campaign. Still, Beschloss explained that Romney still has a chance of winning if he manages to articulate a positive message at this season’s presidential debate.

“It has happened that a spectacular debate performance can turn things around and that could happen here,” he said.

As Americans head to the voting polls to cast their ballots, Beschloss urges voters to take into consideration what defining characteristics great historical presidents have and how our two candidates measure up to those characteristics.


This article was originally published on Yahoo! News through the Yahoo Contributor Network which was shut down in July 2014. For more content by this author that was originally published on Yahoo! News, click here