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No one can predict the crises a president will face, so it’s better to vote on character (OPINION)

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: August 30, 2020

Jeffrey A. Engel directs the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. (OPINION)

The Dallas Morning News is publishing a multi-part series on important issues for voters to consider as they choose a president this year. This is the third installment of our What’s at Stake series, and it focuses on presidential leadership. Find the full series here.

Surely you predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall? Tiananmen Square? You also expected San Francisco’s World Series earthquake, and anticipated that the Exxon Valdez would choke Alaska’s coast with oil.

Of course you didn’t. Neither did President George H.W. Bush, who confronted them all during his first year in office. Nearly all presidents face similar bolts from the blue, typically before the first anniversary of their inauguration. George W. Bush’s agenda utterly changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Dwight Eisenhower faced a leaderless nuclear rival when Joseph Stalin died little more than month into Ike’s first foray into elected office. Ronald Reagan was shot. READ MORE