According to our system of government, there are many things that a president cannot do by himself. For example, a president cannot legally pass or change a law by himself; he needs Congress to pass the law and then he needs the courts to enforce it.
But there is one very important thing that a president can (and does) do himself: Set a tone. The spirit and mood associated with that tone affects the people of the United States, and the spirit and character associated with that tone is sensed by the people of the international community.
Domestically, one wants the tone to be one of confidence, optimism and unity. Internationally, one wants this tone to be one of confidence, leadership, fidelity and resolve toward our friends and enemies alike.
A question for voters in deciding which candidate to choose is: What tone has President Obama set -- and what tone do you think Mitt Romney would set?
TERRY M. GERNSTEIN
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