The American people surely are in 100 percent agreement that we need to elect an exceptionally capable president next year. That will be possible, however, only if we field good candidates.
The entry of Texas Gov. Rick Perry into the Republican presidential field has shaken things up, with presumed front-runners Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann knowing they will have a fight on their hands -- not only against each other but against Perry. Then whoever wins the nomination will face an almost certainly bitter contest against President Barack Obama, whose policies have made him politically vulnerable but who will have the campaign cash to put up a fierce fight.
Our history as a nation shows that at times we have elected excellent presidents. But often, we have picked leaders who weren't up to the challenge or who did not have a grasp of fundamental principles.
Obama has his supporters, but his record doesn't indicate that he is the president we need for the four years beyond the next election. His dismal economic record, in particular, speaks for itself.
Meanwhile, the Republican field is coming into clearer focus.
Here are the most prominent GOP hopefuls:
* Bachmann is a fiscally and socially conservative U.S. representative from Minnesota. She has drawn a great deal of tea party support. Whether she can raise the funds to mount a successful primary and general election campaign is uncertain, however,
* Romney is a former governor of Massachusetts. He is generally conservative, though he is seen as somewhat more middle of the road than some other candidates. He finished second in the 2008 primaries to Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.
* Perry entered the race late, but he has nonetheless made waves. He is conservative and has the advantage of having led a state where job creation far outpaced the rate of job creation in the United States as a whole. His Democrat critics -- and perhaps some other Republicans -- will try to link him to the policies of former President George W. Bush, who was previously a Texas governor as well.
There are other candidates, of course, and it's too early to count them out entirely. Among them are:
* Herman Cain, a former Federal Reserve banker and a businessman from Georgia.
* Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, from Georgia.
* Jon Huntsman Jr., former U.S. ambassador to China and former governor of Utah.
* Ron Paul, U.S. representative from Texas.
* Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
* Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin apparently has not decided.
Whom do you like on this list, or do you prefer four more years of Obama? You'll be deciding soon.