What makes a president

The way we elect a president in the U.S. requires an exceptional combination of disparate qualities. It’s a bit like expecting someone to play piano while getting punched in the face.

Some candidates – and presidents – are fine “pianists” but have way too soft a face. Some are dubious on the keys but sure know how to take a punch. The ideal candidates and the memorable presidents are the ones that somehow manage to balance both qualities.

A lot of times, people on one side rally behind a candidate or a president for being a great musician – for embodying their ideal personal qualities and policy positions – but they decry the other side for punching him in the face. “If only they wouldn’t pick on our guy, he’d be perfect! Leave him alone and let him do his thing!”

It’s not going to happen. Our political system is a full-contact piano recital. Although it seems brutal and ridiculous and impossible for anyone to succeed in this system, the leaders we elect are the ones that we judge (rightly or wrongly) to best be able to balance an absurd range of disparate policy and political concerns.

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