I've attempted to remain apolitical when discussing each issue from a martial viewpoint, commenting on what works or doesn't work on the battlefield, or how elements of a strategy I've seen applied with our allies, partners, or foes affect a desired outcome. My goal is always to analyze the issue while refraining from judging the personality of the candidate. Admittedly, I have sometimes failed in the latter.
That happens because while performing those duties for CNN, I am also evaluating the leadership abilities of the candidates based on the military criteria of leadership I've learned during my four-decade career wearing our country's cloth. Truthfully, the measures those in uniform apply aren't that complicated. They center on the term "attributes," and are measured by the three words: "Be-Know-Do."
The leader's character, presence and intellect describe the "being" and "knowing" element of attributes.
Character describes who the candidates are: the values they hold dear, the self-discipline they apply and the service ethos that guides their performance. Have they been imbued with the right stuff, will they act when necessary, and are they selfless or self-serving?
Character will determine how leaders view and understand others, and how they apply their moral principles to decision making when tackling very complex problems. As importantly, character involves how a leader views serving the citizens of our nation.
The factor of character contributes to leaders doing the right thing -- not what is popular or will generate the most applause or highest numbers in the polls. Character provides the leader with the courage and self-discipline to decide what is appropriate for all the citizens of our country when there are tough problems or difficult times.
The key question one should ask: Do we as a nation trust this leader to do the right thing, for all people, in the toughest of situations?
Confidence, not arrogance
The leader's presence is apparent in actions, words and manner. A real leader's presence shows confidence, but does not reflect arrogance, hubris or cockiness.