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These Are the 6 Essential Traits a President Needs, Says Doris Kearns Goodwin

October 24, 2018 in History

By Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian studied presidential leadership during times of national strife. These six videos reveal her top takeaways.

Everywhere I go lately people stop to ask me: Are these the worst of times?

No, history reassures us.

Imagine Abraham Lincoln entering the White House with the country about to rupture into a civil war that would leave more than 600,000 dead. Theodore Roosevelt was thrust into office when conflict between the rich and the poor had grown so intense that talk of revolution filled the air. Franklin Roosevelt came to power when the Great Depression had paralyzed the economy and the spirit of the country. Lyndon Johnson took office in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination when a civil-rights bill was mired in Congress and racial issues seared the country.

Each situation cried out for leadership, and each of these four men was particularly fitted for the times, as I explore in my new book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times.

Although set apart in background, abilities and temperament, my guys—as I respectfully call Lincoln, the two Roosevelts and Johnson after living with them for so many decades—shared a fierce ambition and a deep-seated resilience that enabled them to surmount uncommon adversity.

At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenge, all sought to heal divisions, to bring various parts of the country together, to summon the citizenry to a sense of common purpose. They were able to use their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.

Lincoln was a leader both merciful and merciless, confident and humble, patient and persistent—able to sustain our spirits and translate the meaning of the struggle into words of matchless force, clarity and beauty. Theodore Roosevelt’s spirited combativeness was perfectly suited to the task of mobilizing the country and the press to deal with voracious monopolies and Industrial Age inequities. Franklin Roosevelt’s confidence and infectious optimism restored the hope and earned the trust of the American people through both the Great Depression and World War II. And Lyndon Johnson’s Southern roots and legislative wizardry ideally fitted him for the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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