Presidential character

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Character is an important ingredient that matters. Presidents, just like other person, may not hide from being who they are. Hence, character conditions individuals’ relationship with others, and shape their behaviors and beliefs.

Besides, character does not only affect interaction, decision making, speaking and thinking. It is also a factor that is almost always relevant and relatively constant. It is imperative to note that candidates, who have won elections and legally sworn into White House, do not discard their personalities. Instead, they trend to maintain it.

The future actions and thoughts they anticipate, as well as their current behavior is affected by the traits they demonstrated in the past (Wayne 293). As examined in this paper, the style, beliefs and derivatives of a presidential character are important aspects to study since they influence a president’s growth in power, actions and decision making as well as creation and implementation of policies.

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As such, this paper analyzes these aspects, intentions and goals of presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton of the United States. It will further seek to determine whether their characters reflected viewpoints of American public. Besides, the paper offers a critical analysis of beliefs, objectives and decision making styles of President Obama in relation to his speech on “State of the Union”.

Presidential character

According to Wayne, character, a fundamental orientation individuals have towards life, rests on the foundations of unconscious feelings and self awareness (304). Character springs from personal experiences.

The latter affects judgment, deliberations, and cognition. Research studies indicate that it has a proclivity for changing or sticking to judgments when in light of changing conditions, new evidences or public disapproval. Personal experience affects beliefs and makes those individuals aware of them to frame a mindset where views are formulated and judgments are made that shape and guide decision making and perceptions of reality.

Presidential candidates seeking to articulate and bind systems to their beliefs go through great lengths to create what they expect from their actions in office as well as their future decisions. Some like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan allowed their conservative views to guide them throughout their leadership (Shenkman 18). As a matter of fact, they believed in what they knew and never questioned the basis of their assumptions or beliefs.

On the other hand, President Bill Clinton, similar to President Obama, is considered to be less ideological and certain. In fact, both Clinton, and now Obama in his speech on “State of the Union” are perceived to be leaders who are nuanced in making judgments, more involved in the process of decision making, more inquisitive and open to recommendations and competing observations (Shenkman 20).

In his speech, Obama speaks about creating jobs and moving forward to invest in education and innovation so as to compete in the global economy and secure a future for the country and American children. From the speech, it is evident that Obama, similar to Bill Clinton, demonstrates a character that is confident amidst complex problem and who believes in his ability to figure out solutions.

Another important derivative of character is style. It refers to the manner in which individuals perform tasks, communicate and implement judgments to achieve a goal (Glad 862). Personal operating style of presidents are individual displays of patterned behavior that have been designed to conceal less desirable attributes while projecting desired ones. However, they cannot change their personality. As such, efforts put by their advisors to reshape their image are almost always futile (Glad 863).

It is imperative to note that behavior, beliefs and characters of a president is a product of development and years of experience. Therefore, using the words of Wayne(2011) to explain presidential character, one would say that it is “what life has marked into a man’s being” (Wayne 300). It remains relatively stable. In President Bush’s style of leadership, he displayed certain styles that exhibited his characters. For instance, during his leadership created the right structure of teamwork.

He ensured that both his inner circle and his closest advisers had access to him. Besides, as a worthy example, Bush was known for discipline in and out of the office. Unlike Clinton whose ideas were subject to change, Bush’s ways were firm and controlled. He meant what he said or did and firmly stood by it. His work and schedules were timely and tight. It is important to note that great and quality leadership character goes hand in hand with discipline. This is a reflection of admirable qualities of the American public.

Moreover, it is imperative to note that a presidential character should use the available resources, departments and organizations in a nation to their maximum capability in order achieve results. Being a republican, Bush knew that his policies and promises had to count for something and that he had to fulfill his initiatives.

In terms of organization, a presidential character should be organized. Clinton’s White House organization could be well described as oxymoronic (Glad 869). Unlike Clinton, Bush gave organizational strength top priority. He improved on the one that Clinton had. He was more concerned about his day to day organizational activities and in so doing earned him attention and respect.

One important and admirable aspect Bush’s presidential character was his ability to be visionary. Vision is used in this case to mean the ability of a leader to inspire (Wayne 299). Unlike President Obama whose vision and plan of action found in his speech on “State of the Union’” focuses on a handful of verities, Bush’s vision was strong in that it fully covered consistency of viewpoint.

In addressing the issue of jobs being addressed by President Obama in “State of the Union” he would have applied strategic intelligence, organized resources and improved policies. This is vital when a leader wants to create success out of a complex problem. Even though Bush’s press conferences had jumbled syntax, he was a genius compared to Clinton and Obama. A president should maintain a standard of strategic intelligence that will make them effective.

The question that arises is whether the aforementioned presidents’ leadership styles and characters reflected the viewpoints of America and her people. Americans have over the years been divided in opinion over the course of action to take over issues that affect them. Refusal and or acceptance by the public to approve the actions of their presidents on issues such as taxes, deployment of military to Afghanistan and creation of jobs reflects how different some of them are from their presidential character and style of leadership.

Up to today, Americans are divided over leadership styles and policies that don’t reflect their wishes and needs. For instance, in June 2009 the public protested the loss of control on the issue of healthcare and interference with family and individual issues, invasive and expensive government programs. In a nutshell, presidential character is a personal issue that does not reflect the viewpoint of a nation or its people.


To sum up, this paper has critically analyzed presidential character from two cases of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It has also analyzed the address made by Obama in “State of the Union” speech. Surprisingly, as the paper has explored, presidential character does not necessarily reflect the position and viewpoint of citizens of a nation bearing in mind that sometimes the feelings of the public are ignored and do not affect decision making.

That is perhaps why there are lots of opposition and growing dissatisfaction on policies and leadership styles of American presidents. The cases of Bush and Clinton have reflected two men with unique personalities such as thoughtfulness, intellectual approach to issues at hand and rational decision making.

Works Cited

Glad, Betty. “Evaluating presidential character. Presidential Studies Quarterly. 28.4 (1998): 861-872.

Shenkman, Richard. Is presidential character everything? National Forum. 80.1 (2000): 17-25.

Wayne, Stephen. Presidential character and judgment: Obama’s Afghanistan and Health Care Decisions. Presidential Studies Quarterly. 41.2 (2011): 291-306.

Categories: Decision Making


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