Greenstein’s Six Presidential Qualities Vision

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Greenstein’s Six Presidential Qualities
Vision: A president with a strong vision sees the landscape of the future—but, he also sees a direct path to arriving there. Lincoln, for example, knew that the future would tolerate neither slavery nor a divided country, and he took all necessary means to ensure that neither won the day. Some presidents see the stars in sky but trip over the pebble in their path. Others avoid the pebbles by meandering in a circular fashion. The President with vision finds the correct path to the correct destination.
"Skill can be used to make bad and counterproductive decisions, so a realistic policy vision is important."

Greenstein defines "vision" as a president's ability to inspire, in addition to his understanding of policies and their feasibility, and his possession of overarching goals for the nation. Superior vision, he says, does not require a mastery of the minutiae, but it does fall apart when a president possesses only a general understanding of the policies and initiatives he stands behind. For example, Reagan communicated the big picture very well but often could not discuss the specifics in order to back up his points. George H. Bush, on the other hand, commanded a great understanding of policy details, but he failed to champion any big national goals during his term.

"Nixon had vision in spades when it came to foreign policy," Greenstein says. "He set three first-term goals: Getting our combat forces out of Vietnam, reaching an arms agreement with the Soviet Union, and establishing a relationship with China. He was able to accomplish these goals not only because of his vision, but also because of his great and highly strategic intelligence. But he was extremely lacking in emotional intelligence. Thus, he also embarked on a politically unnecessary secret program of political espionage and sabotage. In the end, he doomed his presidency and left the nation with an enduring trauma."

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