The Vision Thing II: Where are the Giants?

We are the nation we are because giants have walked among us.

America was founded by giants. Others have appeared since to guide us through crises or to great things: Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King. We have had leaders whose oratory has, sometimes in a single sentence, rallied the American people around their obligations of citizenship, the morality of equal rights, the spirit of exploration, and the compassion our blessed nation should show to those who have never known security or abundance.

Are giants walking among us today? Are any of them in the present field of presidential candidates?

Polls indicate that most Americans agree the current President has demonstrated some qualities we do not want in the White House. I’d like to offer an unabashedly old-fashioned and idealistic answer about the qualities we DO want, drawn from the Presidential Climate Action Plan.

The candidates should promise a government as it should be: open, accountable, value-driven, forward-looking, principled, unifying, just and inclusive. The new Administration must reignite the nation’s genius for innovation and its sense of moral obligation to the nation’s future. It must bust barriers, invent incentives, set goals, and nurture the technologies and industries that are emerging to power a sustainable economy.

The President should cut red tape, practice the paradoxical principle of making government leaner to make it stronger, bring out the best in career civil servants by appointing America’s best people to lead them, and keep the bureaucracy attentive to the nation’s needs and nimble enough to respond.

The President must be the champion of equity and social justice as well as the CEO’s CEO. He must be uncommonly courageous, loyal to principle over politics, and committed to seeking wise counsel outside as well as inside the White House.

The President must have a strong spine and a good compass, thick skin and sensitivity to the people. He must be the leader not only of those who vote, but those who are disengaged, disenchanted or disenfranchised. He must guard the keys of government from special interests and make commitment to breaking the grip of powerful lobbies that would hold the nation back.

The President must be bullish on the future and skilled behind the bully pulpit. He must be a patriot and a citizen of the world, unafraid to ask a lot of the American people and willing for the American people to ask a lot of the President. He must be an evangelist for a revival of the American spirit. If we are to remain a great, secure and prosperous nation, this is the kind of leadership we need.”

Joe Klein of TIME has correctly called the current competition for the presidency the “Courage Primary”. In a recent issue, The Economist magazine published an interview in which it asked former Sen. Bob Kerrey: “Does America need a hero, a CEO or an iconoclast?

I think America needs giants. We need them in business, in government and civil society, and we need one in the Oval Office. We will watch in the months ahead to see if any of the candidates grows to that stature.

— Bill B.

11 Responses to The Vision Thing II: Where are the Giants?

  1. Ronald says:

    It is from the followers that leaders are made. Before Dec. 7,1941 FDR had no chance of doing anything about fascism in the world. Once the people were on board, he could lead. If the American people don’t want someone to lead them, it doesn’t matter who is elected. We the people have to want to make our reality.

  2. tidal says:

    Michael Bloomberg ’08?… woulda, coulda, shoulda…

  3. Joe says:


    As you may know, FDR — without the knowledge of the American people who probably would have opposed it — supported our Allies before Dec. 7 with a great deal of materiel. Had he not, we might never have had a chance to win the war once we did enter.


  4. Joe says:

    Anything can happen. He’s not going to be the GOP nominee — if you think he is, you can make a bundle of money on, where the betting gives him a 8.5% chance.

    This is probably good news for Giuliani….

  5. Ronald says:


    You’re right of course. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of the arguments.

    I have studied World War II well as my mother was 16 years old on September 1, 1939 and spent much to the war as a nurse’s aid in Hamburg and some in Berlin.

    Sure, would I want a Giant of a leader who will slay the political enemies of carbon dioxide reductions? Yes. Frankly I would be happy with someone who just wasn’t an enemy of what might actually work, and not come up with hydrogen and biofuels which have no chance of doing any good. Just for politics.

    My bar for president is really really low. I would just argue that we can’t rely on the hope for a carbon dioxide reduction Giant. Listing attributes is great, but doesn’t the person have to be for our side first?

  6. Ron says:


    I’m not saying he’s going to be the nominee. And I don’t like him all that much anyway. I like some of what he stands for, but he’s a big-government Republican; I thought that might appeal to you (it doesn’t appeal to me).

    Who are you betting on, for the nominees and for president?


    That’s too bad that you’ve set the bar so low.

    I’ve set the bar really high myself. I figure anybody that wants the job of “public servant” is suspect already. I rarely vote for ANY of them!

    You see, if you vote you give up your right to complain about the outcome. And I enjoy complaining. ;-)

  7. Joe says:

    The smart money,, is on Hillary and Rudy.

  8. Jay Alt says:

    I think you need to relink the Kerry article.

  9. Joe says:

    Jay — fixed. Also, I have corrected “Kerrey’s” name.

  10. Merrick says:

    Above all, there must be a president who can write lists of what is needed from a president framed in such vague terms as to be meaningless.

    ‘forward-looking’, ‘the American spirit’, are you serious?

    ‘must guard the keys of government from special interests’ kinda rules out every possible candidate then. Who pays for the campaigns except special interests? The only other possibility is some billionaire with money to burn, not a one of which could possibly qualify.

    and as for ‘cut red tape’ – how are we to get a swift enough response to climate change without new regulation or, in the parlance of many, increased red tape?