New Castle News

June 2, 2012

John K. Manna: What background does a good president really need?

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Although 69,000 jobs were created in May, the U.S unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent.

The increase of one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month is sure to provide more ammunition for Mitt Romney, who has given President Obama a failing grade for his handling of the economy.

Romney, who has a business background, says Obama lacks a “fundamental understanding” of how the free enterprise system works. This has been a standing theme in Romney’s campaign, characterizing Obama as someone who basically has no experience in private industry.

Even U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, whose district next year will include most of Lawrence County, has joined the battle.

“This is a person who has never actually worked in the private sector the way we have,” Kelly said of Obama this week. “He’s never created a job, he’s never run a business.”

Romney’s attacks on Obama’s lack of private business experience raises the question of whether a presidential candidate should be disqualified or discredited for that reason. But it also raises this question: What type of background should a candidate have?

In the past, some have viewed military experience as a necessity, because the president serves as the commander in chief of the armed forces. But with the last three presidents not having served in the military, calls for that as a prerequisite have diminished in recent years.

Presidents have a great deal of say and influence on education policy, but how many presidents have been teachers to experience what educators experience on a daily basis?

Transportation and highway infrastructure are vital to the nation’s security and commerce, but how many presidents have been heads of airlines or railroads or have degrees in engineering?

Speaking of the economy, maybe it would be really nice to have an economist in the White House.

Romney, who is one of the wealthiest to ever run for president, is assailed because he supposedly can’t relate to the average, middle-class person. Is that justifiable reason for rejecting him?

And while Obama is criticized as simply being a politician, candidates over the years also have been criticized for their lack of government experience.

The obvious fact is that it’s impossible for presidential candidates — or any candidate for that matter — to have credentials in every facet of government that they will oversee.

A president must have the political skill to handle all of the facets — and dealing sometimes with a contentious Congress . It will be up to the voters to decide which candidate can best achieve that.