Government Watch / Politics

Perfect Presidential Candidate


Following World War II, fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker worried for America, fearing hatreds would linger in peace, get transferred. He was right. Almost 20 years later, in another letter, he described his perfect presidential candidate. What lingers – from 1963 – is the foresight of a patriot.

Rickenbacker was not opining for public consumption but to a friend. He was not partisan. Reading his recommendations, one is struck almost 60 years later by his wisdom. His words are edifying. They resonate. They hold lessons in a time of objectively poor leadership.

Wrote Rickenbacker: “As we grow older, the years seem to take on an accelerated pace … the longer we live, the shorter they get.”  If wisdom has a beginning, that is it.

The patriot becomes self-critical, asks: “What have we accomplished to perpetuate our land of the free and home of brave …” for “posterity,” that “will help to perpetuate for them the blessings that our forefathers left to us?”

He offers a “principle” for choosing a good president, one “whose courage will inspire confidence on the part of all Americans, regardless of color or creed.” Boy, could we use that!

What is this principle, or list of characteristics, for a good president? He offers 13 qualities. As you read them – in this private letter – you may wonder (I did) how did he know?

First, we should want a man “who has convictions, with courage and character to put them into action.” Needed are sincerity of belief, resolve, and ability to fly alone if necessary, keep bearing.   

Second, we need a leader “who will not cater to or coddle minorities or pressure groups.” Required is the broad view, perspective, fidelity to democracy, no tails wagging dogs.

Third, we need one “who will think in terms of the welfare of the great American majority.” While non-majority protections populate the Bill of Rights, self-rule rests on the majority.

Fourth, we must seek a president “who will recommend amending our labor laws to protect the American laboring men and women from racketeers and false leadership.” Reward work, assure fair wages, no monopolies or oppression, just clearing markets and common sense.

Fifth, our leader must “respect States’ rights.”  When Federal and State goals and methods, means and outcomes, or basic prerogatives clash – the president must respect States’ rights.

Sixth, he warned we need a leader “who will guarantee to return all delegated wartime or national emergency powers to the elected representatives of the people when the emergency is over.” Think executive overreach, the concentration of power, federal COVID mandates – limits.

Seventh, we need someone “who will surround himself with America’s ablest men and women,” not advisors selected on spurious, immaterial, or political bases, but on sheer merit.

Eighth, we need a president “who will eliminate bureaucracy … to a minimum.”  Not needed is more bureaucracy, more waste, high cost, low output, overregulation, or self-preservation.  

Ninth, we need a leader “who will reduce and keep government expenses within the earning power of our people to pay.”  No wild spending, elevated taxes, inflation, or agitation.

Tenth, we should elect a president “who will think in terms of America First in order that America will last, as Adenauer, De Gaulle, and Khrushchev think of their own.” These were the unapologetic leaders of West Germany, France, and the former Soviet Union.

Eleventh, we need a president “who will cooperate with other peoples of the world to ensure lasting peace, but not at the expense of the American people alone.” Think burden-sharing.

Twelfth, we need a leader “who believes in free enterprise and our form of government.” AN advocate of free markets and freedom, not centralized power, socialism, or communism.

Thirteenth, needed is a leader “in whom the American people can place their trust after he is elected, as well as before.”  The requirement is integrity, honesty, selfless service.

Rickenbacker encourages his friend, “Let us … dedicate our lives to the perpetuation of the American principles of Freedom with confidence.”

One last element caps fighter ace’s plea as Christmas 1963 approaches. Signing in his hallmark hand, he says: “Let us pray every night for the strength and guidance to inspire in others the gratitude, love and dedication that we owe to this great land of ours, if not for our sake, then for the sake of the generations to come.”

“Let us acknowledge and be grateful for the blessings of freedom which God has given us. Then, and only then, can we say when the candle of life burns low – thank God I have contributed my best to the land that contributed so much to me.”

Here was America’s most decorated WWI fighter ace, a significant contributor to WWII, a survivor of a DC-3 and B-17 crash, President of Eastern Airlines, designer and racer of automobiles, writer, and man of faith – writing to a friend, thinking about the future. 

Reflecting on Rickenbacker’s recommendations, one wonders how we got so far off track, our leadership devoid of what he deemed essential, nation adrift – as he was on a raft for 24 days. 

When Rickenbacker’s faith, hope, and stamina had faded, and rescue seemed impossible, it happened. He was found, nursed to health, thrived again. The metaphor is imperfect, but – along with this remarkable letter – it reminds us. The great patriot kept his hope. When things seem darkest, often dawn awaits. We must seek that dawn now – and chase it hard to light.

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8 months ago

America First. And so much more, that so describes President Trump and his amazing accomplishments against all odds. God Bless them both!

8 months ago

This brought tears to my eyes. My heart is breaking due to the misdirection this country is heading. This administration is EVERYTHING IT SHOULD NOT BE.

8 months ago

A man ahead of his time describes criteria that we should abide by . Closest in recent past I’d Trymp..while not perfect he did put America First and did keep his promises..oh yeah…maybe he didn’t use terms in his speech perfectly but his heart was in it…he didn’t have to take on the job but he is a true Patriot..unlike some of the Republicans who flip- flop to keep their heads over water. And some Democrats that have no true backbones. We’ve seen so many Benedict Arnold’s during the past 5 or 6 years…I think we need to reacess our reasons for the way we vote for a candidate…By the way..Trump ‘s term ended too soon…he wanted to make the Educational system better. It is too stale a system…needs over hauling for sure. Something to think about.

H R ORourke
8 months ago

It’s up to Americans to take down tyranny now and reinstate our true President!
We have a Bill of Rights !!!

D. Smith
8 months ago

An inspiring article, but heartbreaking in what our beloved country is now lacking.

8 months ago

Modern communications has the rest of the bankrupt world flooding us with propaganda and hoping for our demise. Misery loves company and they can’t admit their social programs can’t override Mother Nature’s law “survival of the fittest”. We should help those who really need it but the left would never be elected if that were the case. Not enough votes without free money for half our populace. Now they have all overstepped their ability to throw money at their self induced problems, so they want to burn it all down. The useful idiots now running our country are merely sacrificing America so they can stay out of jail.

8 months ago
Reply to  Gregzky

Well said, the radical socialist democrats know their policies are failing, so as they ruin America these cowards run to cover their asse**!
Pathetic and shameful group of LOSERS!

Frederic A Parker
8 months ago

This is all very interesting.
However, these are all pull quotes with no attribution.
I would like to know where I can read the original letter.

Scott Schmidt
8 months ago

I agree with the picture at the link for the article: a doorknob would be a better president than obiden.
Good article, btw.

8 months ago

Didn’t see an Rickenbacker listed qualities that cited “women’s hair sniffer!”

8 months ago

Americans need to read and absorb factual accounts of exemplary Americans. Thank you for this one.

8 months ago

I had read in his biography that he was flying with others in a B24 whose navigator had not set his instruments correctly. They went down in the South Pacific and were rescued after many days. I don’t think he was ever in a B17.

Ruth Pierce
8 months ago

Great article (as usual). Other than former President Donald Trump I cannot think of someone capable of becoming POTUS. That’s really sad! I think that anyone who runs for POTUS in 2024 should look at and abide by Eddie Rickenbacker’s “letter, which lists his criteria for president (or for any federal office for that matter (Congress, Supreme Court Justices, etc).

8 months ago
Reply to  Ruth Pierce

Written by Josiah Gilbert Holland and read before the Senate by Chaplain Peter Marshall
“God, give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoil of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand alone before a demagogue and damn
His Treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun – crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking.”

Bob L.
8 months ago

With Donald Trump turning 78 in 2024, I think we need someone else to run for POTUS and there is a standout just right for the time and place. That person is Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. He will turn 60 in 2024.

8 months ago
Reply to  Bob L.

Trump is still formidable and I can think of no one better to negotiate with world leaders. They respect him even if they fear or dislike him. He’s healthy and active still, I’m sure he has 4 more years in him.
Trump as THE BEST POTUS EVER and still can be.

Al Perpente
8 months ago

i have no idea how supposed intelligent american voters can elect a person that does not even know what state he is in of whom he is talking to. senile. depraved. ununderstanding his surroundings,.impervious to common sense to such a high pelosi is going down the same mindless road ! they all have to go if america is to survive and i dont care how vote them out, imprech them all.

8 months ago
Reply to  Al Perpente

Hmmmmm….Al if we had enough intelligent voters MOST Senators,Representatives and CERTAINLY joebama would NOT be in elected office.
In MANY cases just the opposite got them there, fraud and greed. Cheating and corruption are the benchmarks of democrats and rings!
AKA the Washington Swamp!

We the People are at fault and We the People must correct it!
I pray that We wake up and do what’s neccessary.
Sometimes it’s not good enough to do our best, sometimes we must do what’s REQUIRED, and there’s a BIG differance between !

8 months ago

I have often lamented that what we lack today are statesmen….people who put country above political gain….and aside from Mr. Trump, Mr. Reagan, and further back, Lincoln, today there are none to be found….at nearly any level (right down to dog catcher). Rickenbacker was no prophet, but he did have insight and a future view that has been proven right in our current generation. The greater burden, however, is the lack of informed and involved citizens. Most are selfish, self-centered, and could care less about their fellow man or the nation aside from what they can “get” from others. That is the moral decline that precedes the poor leadership we now have. The downward spirial began at the end of WWII and has gradually picked up speed…..with the future view that at some point you will not be able to stop the vortex from sucking this Republic into oblivion.

8 months ago
Reply to  D.P.

“,,, could NOT care less…”

Sally Duncan
8 months ago
Reply to  RC100

YOU are the biggest problem of our country.

8 months ago

Clearly he was thinking of President Trump !
Promises made , promises kept!

8 months ago

We don’t need principles, or anything else. We need VOTERS who care enough to INFORM THEIR VOTE!
Everything hideous about the Jihadi mooslem was on line BEFORE the 08 election. He belonged to Chicago’s Communist Party, the ‘New Party’.
He was foreign, born in Kenya. He liked Pakistan and was accepted there, which automatically meant he loathed America. He had creepy loyalties everywhere except where he should have.
The 1960s bad men, the Weathermen, Bill Ayres, promoted him. The same thug involved in bombings.
How many more warnings were required? Americans who voted for that evil thug, barack, were stupid, uninformed, uneducated, and very possibly retarded.

Sally Duncan
8 months ago
Reply to  Becky

Yep. Exactly!

Thomas F. Olszewski
8 months ago

senator Biden sure don’t have any qualities close to Eddie Rickenbacker describe

8 months ago

Not one

8 months ago

IMO, Biden seems to be antithetical to all the qualities described by Rickenbacker!!!.

J. Farley
8 months ago

Rickenbacker described President Trump to a “T”, we had him all along, and we let the liars cheat and steal the election. It will take years to undo the damage that Biden had done to this Country.

8 months ago
Reply to  J. Farley

Indeed the complacency of American Citizens allowed an election to be stolen.
Trust but verify, from another Great American President

8 months ago

We had ALL of that in Trump. He is the best President since Abraham Lincoln.

anna hubert
8 months ago
Reply to  gbanks

would such a man or woman survive the smale pit called Washington?

8 months ago
Reply to  anna hubert

Only President Trump

8 months ago
Reply to  gbanks

Abraham was NOT a good President. He did not write the Emancipation Proclamation and he did not want to free all slaves. He did not free the 800,000 -900,000 slaves in the north, only the slaves in the southern states they could reach. He went to war to save the Northern economy which was based upon SOUTHERN resources which had to be shipped to the northern manufacturers. In turn the manufactured goods were shipped out to Europe and the south, with the south paying very high prices and taxes on the manufactured goods. The South were planning to build their own factories and ship resources and goods directly to Europe and NOT pay the northern taxes. NOT THE GREAT-EMANCIPATOR.

Don Pierce
8 months ago
Reply to  SKC

I guess from what you say that you were there to verify your “opinions”. You are entitled to your own thoughts is not a great country ? Lets not destroy it.

Dan W.
8 months ago
Reply to  SKC

Spoken like a true graduate of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, Chapel Hill, TN.

8 months ago
Reply to  SKC

Abraham Lincoln’s goal was to save the Union. He stated that if he could free part of the slaves and save the Union, he would. If he could free all the slaves and save the Union, he would. So the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation was to provide the incentive and a strong purpose to save the Union and ultimately free all the slaves.

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