January 24th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Competency test for presidential candidates?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The 2012 presidential campaign will soon go into high gear; but before it does, here's an idea worth considering:
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/24/art.palin.jpg caption=""]
What if you had to pass a competency test in order to run for president? You know, prove to the voters that you have some sort of a clue.

It might go a long way toward eliminating some of the intellectual lightweights who have tried to pass themselves off as presidential timber in the past.

An evangelical supporter of Mitt Romney is calling on Christian conservatives to consider "a new litmus test" beyond the traditional cultural issues.

Politico got hold of the memo Mark DeMoss sent to 200 pastors, donors and intellectuals on the Christian right.

In it, DeMoss writes that a candidate "should be capable of becoming president, and then competent to be the president." What a concept!

He thinks Romney is the answer - since he can raise the money to mount a campaign against President Obama, is doing well in the polls and has a business background.

DeMoss seems to take a swipe at some of the other contenders. He says a candidate's values alone aren't enough to get his vote: "my pastor shares my values, but I don't want him to be my president."

This could be aimed at Mike Huckabee.

Then there's this: "By the way, 'energizing a crowd' is also not enough; Justin Bieber can do that - but I don't want him to be president either."

Are you listening, Sarah Palin?

Putting aside this guy's support for Romney, a competency test for the next leader of the free world doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

Here’s my question to you: Should presidential candidates have to pass a competency test?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Dee in Ohio writes:
It certainly would thin the herd some! And if the tests were given as a prerequisite to even getting on the ballot, it sure would save a lot of the truly gullible from making campaign contributions to some totally unqualified numbskull!

David in California writes:
We used to have an independent press that did that for us, but now that they all seem to work for one or the other political parties, I would say your suggestion has merit.

Raul writes:
The grueling presidential primaries have done a great job of weeding out candidates over the years. I don't see how a so-called competency test will do a better job. The beauty of our democracy is that anybody can run to be the next president. But that does not necessarily mean that certain individuals should run. Ultimately it is up to the voters. We always deserve the politicians we elect.

Lando writes:
Yes, and double yes. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, pilots, drivers, even many retail clerks have to pass a competency test to do what they do. Presidential candidates should. Members of Congress should also.

Chris in Los Angeles writes:
What good would it do if the voting populace is still largely incompetent in its ability to understand the issues?

Jess writes:
I've been suggesting this idea for discussion in my college history classes for a long time. In ancient China, there were famous civil service exams that engineered the whole meritocracy system that China operated under; the best and brightest went forward to help run the government. Heck, my mail carrier has to take a civil service test. Why in heaven's name wouldn't the future president of the United States have to pass one, too?

Ken in California writes:
You betcha!

Bob in Iowa writes:
Jack, This is the funniest question you have ever asked. Of course not. Did you think of it when you were shaving?

Filed under: 2012 Election • United States
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Gerald (Tampa, FL)

    Passing a competency test to become president sounds like a great idea. I think the voters should have to pass that same test also.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  2. Ryan

    This is a hard one. In theory, I would hope that the combined intellect of the voting public would make this sort of thing obsolete. But judging by the candidates of the past couple of years, I think this may be a good idea.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  3. mike

    Not a bad idea Jack, but why stop with presedential candidates? If you are going to run for any office you should have to pass a competency test. We've had enough handsome/pretty faces running for everything from president to state representative. If you need a license to drive you should damn sure need a license to govern.

    Mike from Boise

    January 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  4. Walker

    This is a great idea, but I have a feeling Sarah might get stuck trying to put the green square into the orange circle spot... 5 colleges in 5 years, seriously...did she even get a degree or just learn how to be a quitter?

    Marc from Austin. Texas

    January 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  5. cesar

    I agree 110% – it's time to have competent people leading our country, not muppets!!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  6. Dolly

    Great idea, but considering they ban competency tests to vote, I think it is a non-starter.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  7. joe murphy

    Yes...just as they should have to pass a "Have I ever lied, cheated, or stolen, to gain office" test. I'm afraid this would eliminate most elected officials holding office, leaving the country in chaos. Not much different from what we currently have....
    What is so frustrating is that this country possesses the ability, intellect, and resources to fix the problems we have and face, but not the political will to do so.

    Shame On Us

    January 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  8. Art Nemiroff

    A resounding YES, but I'm sure there are some very "qualified" bureaucrats who would lack the inter-personal skills to be president, so therein lies the dilemma.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  9. Logan

    I definitely think we should test our candidates. Test them on everything from constitutional law to foreign economics and math to history. Then give them each 10-page essays (I'd pick the top 10 current hot-box issues and have them write an essay on each). They have 4 hours for each essay in a closed room, no blackberries and no aides. Then we will see who has the brains to run this country. The republicans would probably try and take that back after it passed though, seeing how most of them would fail horribly.
    Logan in Austin, TX

    January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  10. Jerry


    Anyone smart enough to pass a competency test surely is smart enough not to run for President.

    Boone, Iowa

    January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  11. Charley Najacht

    That's fine, but what we really need is a competency test for voters.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  12. Dave in Arizona

    Yes, at least a test that my eigth grade child can pass. Some of Sarah Palin's responses to real questions are disturbing for a supposedly educated adult.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  13. Marty

    Yes they should. It is just too important a position to have someone as our president who doesn't know about domestic and foreign affairs. Presidential wannabees should be tested to access their understanding of national financial issues as well.
    Damariscotta, Maine

    January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  14. Erick

    You mean we don't already have one?! Explains Bush. While we're at it, how about competency tests for journalists and pundants? Photo-genic does not mean informed.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  15. rosignol

    Candidates already have to pass a competency test- it's called an 'election'.

    More generally, the Constitution already sets the requirements to run for federal office. If you want to change that, pass an Amendment.

    If you didn't know that the Constitution already sets the requirements, I suggest reading it. Don't worry, it's pretty short.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  16. Todd McEvoy

    Yes and this shouldn't be limited to presidential candidates. All civil servants publicly elected or not, should be required to take and pass relative competency tests.

    I also think this would make an enormous impact on leveling the playing field for candidates that don't have the resources others do. Moderates and independents like myself are looking for the right person; the most qualified person. Not the person with the most buzz, media exposure and money.

    I still think the left and right fringe will vote party lines regardless of how intelligent their candidate is; which is ridiculous.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  17. AB

    Yes, Jack, anyone who aspires to be president should take and pass a competency test. That test should be fair, realistic and related to the job of governing and policy making. The test should comprise metrics on logical reasoning, economics financial management,, knowledge on public affairs:domestic and international affairs. Furthermore, the test should also measure cultural knowledge and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution–some political apirants seem to be ignorant in this catagory–Does Christine O'donnell ring a bell??

    January 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  18. whitmanguy

    We'd all like this. But we could never agree on the questions or criteria. Or on who would be competent to administer and assess.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  19. Graham W.

    Test their competency? Why not! People who think that they are "qualified" for the most powerful office in the world should be willing to put it all out there and take an intelligence test and general knowledge exam. Could we also get their high school and college transcripts released? I would be more interested in those than their tax returns. When Palin and Bachman join forces for their Tea Party ticket in 2012, let them take a group test. I'm betting they would still flunk.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  20. Bob J

    What would be the questions & who would be the judges?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  21. Martin Williams

    Well Jack, you have to pass a bar exam to be a certified lawyer so why not pass a competent test to be president. Then we can eliminate people that know that Africa is a continent.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  22. The Ed

    Sounds like a great idea. Can we have a competency test for voters too? Seem like most of them are just a bunch of ilinformed dolts.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  23. Jenn

    Ideally yes!
    But since the corparations run the country it doesn't matter.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  24. JoeT

    What a can of worms that would open up! Imagine the party in power or a cartel of like-minded media or perhaps a large religious organization having control over the criteria used to judge candidates. Sadly, while we might desire candidates and even voters to pass some sort of test to prove they know what they're doing, requiring them do so would pervert our dreams of meritocracy to tyrrany.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  25. Mike

    No, I don't think presidential candidates should _have_ to pass a competency test–the Constitution lays out the requirements for the office. However, I think it would be great if there were _voluntary_, impartial tests of facts, skills, and abilities that any politician (or anyone, for that matter) can take. Then, these scores would be released to the public to help guide their voting decisions. For example, if a candidate needs help calculating a 15% tip, how can they handle a multi-trillion dollar budget? Voters should know this. I actually had a discussion about this on my local Coffee Party webpage not so long ago, and we came to the conclusion that the idea has merit. My plate is full, otherwise I'd start a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to get this done. Any takers?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  26. Geoffrey in Lowell, MA

    Isn't this called an Election? I think a responsible voter looks at Academic qualifications as well as whether the candidate actually has a way of getting to the solution. That's what I do. It's fine to state goals, but how are they to be achieved? Lower Taxes? That's nice ...what are you cutting? What's the arithmetic on the cuts and the lowering?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  27. Tom

    Yes, but so should TV and journalistic "personalities" contibuting to the issue.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  28. Bob Kelley

    Jack, great idea...maybe we could 'weed" out former community organizers and city councilors before they showed up on a presidential ballot !!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  29. Chris, Bronx, NY

    Americans did a good job in the 2008 campaign, and chose the right person....I do trust the voters to decide.....also the debates do much to bring out who a person is. They should have six debates instead of three.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  30. AB

    Yes, Jack, anyone who aspires to be president should take and pass a competency test. That test should be fair, realistic and related to the job of governing and policy making. The test should comprise metrics on logical reasoning, economics financial management,, knowledge on public affairs:domestic and international affairs. Furthermore, the test should also measure cultural knowledge and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution–some political apirants seem to be ignorant of knowledge in this catagory–Does Christine O'donnell ring a bell??

    January 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  31. Danny Haynes

    It sure would have been nice if this idea would have been put in place before George W. Bush became President.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  32. Sandra Williams

    Passing a test would not necessarily assure sound leadership and good judgement. We have had smart Presidents who did dumb things. It is not always what you know but what you do that matters.

    Sandy in Arkansas

    January 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  33. Bill Stevens

    Sure Jack, why don't we just convene a Constitutional Convention and add that caveat as an amendment to the Presidential qualifications. Or perhaps we could test the electorate to eliminate non-qualified individuals as voters. Better yet, let's have you and Wolfe determine who's qualified to run, but why stop at just the presidency?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  34. bonsai park

    No, because the next thing would be a competency test for voters!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  35. Mike

    What we should have is an accomplishment test. What have you actually done? Have you run a state government? A large business? Have you introduced and passed important legislation? We have had a lot of incompetence in presidents from both parties. But our current President has no prior accomplishments to speak of. Accomplishments equals competency.

    San Juan Capistrano, CA

    January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  36. Just Sayin!

    You betcha! Wink, wink!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  37. Sen Horak (Princeton, NJ)

    By denying a candidate the ability to contest for office you also deny his supporters representation, violating one of the basic principles of a democracy. People might not always be smart in the SAT-score sense but they have common sense. Presidents who as supposedly competent should be able to use their smarts to better appeal to the common sense of people – so they have a natural advantage even in the present system.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  38. horf

    This is a brilliant idea. It doesn't even need to be something administered by the government. Have someone committee write a Political Office Aptitude Test, like the SAT, GMAT, etc. Then publish the results. I would help pay for that.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  39. the_dude

    Yeah but who is going to determine compentency? I like your articles but I wouldn't want you deciding the compentecy of our next president.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  40. Dave


    Whoe gets to grade the test?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  41. Nelson

    If we had done this only 10 years ago we could have saved ourselves alot of pain. Instead we must live with that , and the potential that sarah palin might run for president. However, this country would never let her win

    January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  42. Mary, Los Angeles, CA

    YES, YES, YES!!!! Yes please!!!! We're long over-due for someone who's competent and able to understand the intricacies of the politics, the international and the domestic issues and deal with them accordingly.. Far too many mediocrities have been on the political scene in the last couple of decades, but the last few yrs were absolutely horrifying to even consider!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  43. MMcGhee

    Great idea...could we include questions on geography? Would also be nice to have a president who can converse to some extent in a foreign language (or two

    January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  44. BarB

    It's really a shame that such a thing would be considered for the highest office in our country..and the person who would be the leader of the free world. What a sad state of affairs when so many of our citizenry are wild about , contribute to and slavishly follow those who are so blatantaly not competent enough, for many reason, to hold that office.

    Once, you had to be smart..once, you had to have respect for ALL of our citizens, once, you had to have some sort of credentials; a good education, a history of leadership, an unbiased, unbigoted, love of our country and ALL it's peoples.

    How very sad...

    Unfortunately, I agree that some sort of competentcy test of some sort may or should become necessary. A candidate should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the world, other governments, countries and their people. Should know our history, have a working knowledge of our Founding documents. They should also be ready to write an essay, 500 words or less titled "Why I think I'm the best choice for President"....like a 10th grader..which is about the same mentality of many who think they are fit.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  45. Christopher Blunt

    Sure, test 'em. And let's also test political commentators, pundits, columnists, and anyone else who claims to be functionally capable on the national political scene.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  46. Jamie

    A competency test would be a plus. I watched a scary documentary, "Hacking Democracy" in which a Finnish Computer scientist proved that the machines made by Diebold were rigged for the 04 election. He hacked into Diebold's mails and found a memo to Bush saying the election would be delivered to him. The CEO resigned but no one went to jail and the same machines are still in use. A test would at least prevent another room temperature I.Q. like Bush as president.--js

    January 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  47. Denizen Kate in Silicon Valley

    It doesn't go far enough. We should have a competency test for VOTERS, too.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  48. Jesse

    I don't think they should have to pass it, but everyone should be able to see what their answers were to each question.

    Though there would be in issue in deciding who would write the tests.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  49. P.G

    The demise of the Republican Party?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  50. Mark

    Sarah Palin all the way. She is the only candidate that lead America back to greatness.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  51. Larry

    No – we've had plenty that the "elite" considered incompetent and some of them were the best Presidents we have had.
    Some of those deemed highly educated by the same elites were/are some of our worst presidents.
    Besides, then we would need to extend the test to "journalists" and we know where that would end up!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  52. Len

    I think they should be tested.

    But should not be allowed to have their advisers present when they are. (that includes use of cell phones etc.)

    Most, without their advisers, have no clue at all and would sound it.

    Cayman Islands.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |

    What a great idea! That means that maybe We would not have had Bush in office. You know, the C average guy in college? We would not be at war with Iraq. Let's do it!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  54. Franci

    We could start with a spelling test!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  55. Sam Dallas

    I feel reluctant to give a definite response, but the more we continue to see Sara Palin and others like her pussy-footing and wanting to be elected as President, then making candidates pass a competency test will not be a bad idea.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  56. Joe C

    I think most everyone would agree that a competency test would in fact be beneficial for the president. However, more importantly, coming to a consensus as to what constitutes competency is the real issue. Take a test like the SATs, they are constantly under attack for being biased to one group or another. What criterion could we use to judge a presidents competency? Intelligence leaves open the possibility for emotional problems. Emotional intelligence (if such a thing can be measured), leaves open intellectual problems. Even beyond testing paradigms not being able to accurately judge performance, who could potentially decide on the criterion without groups feeling disenfranchised due to different cultural emphasis on different aspects of the minds importance? So I would think that to even consider whether a competency test is reasonable we must first decide just what it means to be a "competent" head of state.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  57. Don

    I have believed since George W. Bush was elected that we should require candidates to take a standard IQ test. I want my President to definitely be smarter than I am and George W. Bush did not seem to be and Sarah Palin definitely IS NOT.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  58. darko

    That's 'supposed' to be the media's job. You think that with 24/7 coverage, we'd be able to get an accurate picture of the nominees competence.

    Sadly, it's now nothing more than a popularity contest. Whether they roll up their sleeves or what vehicle they drive generally lead the topics of discussion.

    Not only is competence a big factor, but ideology. Much of the media refused to look into Obama's past to determine his ideology and look at what the naive are finally starting to realize. Social justice, black liberation, Alisky types do not mix with the great experiment that is America.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  59. Mitch from Calif

    yes.....not to mention a valid birth certificate.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  60. Howard

    Yes. Not just intellectual, but mental competency as well. We don't need nut jobs running for public office. By the way, if a candidate is supposed to be so wonderful, how about requiring they provide a resume, just like any other person applying for a position. I would love to know what in the world Sarah Palin have ever done in her life, other than shoot at helpless animals.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  61. twiddly in Golden, CO

    I think a minimum score of 120 on a standard IQ test be would a fair, non-partisan way to ensure some basic intelligence.

    That surely would keep Palin out!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  62. bill

    Jack, many ex presidents would have failed a competence test on some foreign relations issues. Advisors are behind the scene policy making.
    Same applies to economics issues.
    So most presidents on a round table watch how many heads bob up and down on an issue and then makes a decision.
    Why have a president? You have to have some one to blame about anything we don't like.
    How many presidents left office that we wished they could have stayed another term? None.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  63. thom richer

    Firemen do it. Teachers do it. Students do it. Doctors and nurses do it. Mechanics do it. Barbers do it. Care givers do it. What makes politicians free from proving their competency? Oh! Wait a minute. They do. Duh!

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    January 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  64. Greg Turman


    Forgive me for being "glib", but I thought the media was already doing this.

    Gregory Turman
    Dallas, Texas

    January 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  65. Jessica

    Jack, Maybe a test of this sort would be worth it. We had GWB, the guy that everyone wanted to have a beer with but was a C- student and not so bright. Then sister Sarah Palin whom Katie Couric exposed as a know nothing and currently repeats the same lines over, and over and over again. We don't need someone that can woo the crowds with nonsense, we need someone with the smarts and skills to get the job done.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  66. FreedToChoose

    Absolutely, if I get to write it.

    Las Cruces, NM

    January 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  67. Terry NJ

    Maybe there should be a competency test for voters too. This is not a game show, this country is in deep stuff and we need strong leaders to cooperate and adress the problems, not promote their own agendas.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  68. Bruce

    This is a no brainer:YES!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  69. Richard from Alberta

    How about being able to count past two, as in maybe all the way to three or four .. political parties allowed in the worlds most powerful and honest democracy. Richard T.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  70. Dave Penta Northen Minnesota

    Sounds like a great idea!
    How about 30 on the ACT to pass?

    January 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  71. Kirk


    We've struck down competency tests for voters on justified constitutional grounds, so I don't see how we're going to be able to justify forcing them on candidates. Not to mention that it won't really matter how good the candidates are if the electorate is still apathetic and ignorant, the worst possible combination in a democracy.

    Kirk from Durango, CO

    January 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  72. SRMinRoch

    Competency test – what a concept! I think any candidate for high office should be able pass the same test people are required to take to become American Citizens.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  73. Thomas

    In a word...Yes!

    January 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  74. C Brown

    While I don't think you should have to pass a test to run for office, a test similar in purpose to the NFL Combine's Wonderlic exam would be a nice baseline on the candidates potential as a president.

    C Brown, Hobbs NM

    January 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  75. Tanay Pandya

    Of course! I mean, if a regular job seeker has to go through a number of rounds of interviews and in most cases, written tests as well, we are talking about the highest office here. If someone will have the right to decide whether I will have "job option" tomorrow, he should after all be qualified to do so.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  76. Don in Juneau, Alaska

    And who would "score" such a competency test? Who is qualified to determine what a presidential candidate should know? Should we have Bill Clinton and George Bush develop and score the results? Would Jimmy Carter have passed? For that matter, would Barack Obama have passed?
    If you did have such a test, I suspect you would be very surprised at some of the outcomes.
    To directly answer the question, no, I don't think there would be such a test. What a stupid idea!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  77. smithgirl44

    It should be obvious if a candidate is intellectually capable of being President. A test should not be necessary for the American people to judge a candidate's competency to be President.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  78. Mose

    Who would determine the test? Congress? Personally I think this is a bad idea. While it may be debatable, we do have voters with minds of their own to decide for themselves on their own terms who is competent. While one may find a candidate able another may not. A test would make this no different as someone would have to determine what to ask. The questions posed may not be important to another person. Basically its all who decides the test. Quite a bit of power if you ask me.

    But If the people, feel so inclined to require a test, then ammend the US Constitution. Yeah...that old thing 🙂

    January 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  79. Gigi Oregon

    Competency test is great...but let's first get rid of lobbyist from religious organizations who rob God of tithes and offerings to support a canidate of their choice. How about knowing the capitals of the US, and the bill of rights and how far Russia is from your home address. I just left my church when I found it had a lobbyist for a party I was not a member of.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  80. Marilyn from Ohio

    Oh, heck, Jack, just have John McCain vet the next candidate.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  81. Srinivas C

    More than the candidates the voters need the test.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  82. Liz in AZ

    Sure they should pass a competency test, as well as a mental health test. (weed out those w/anger mgmt. issues, trigger happy, etc.) And perhaps toss in a speech test. (Can they say the word terrorist?)

    But with the internet, how could we ensure their answers came from them personally and not from Wikipedia?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  83. Tim in Texas

    I don't know, Jack. I imagine that some of the most evil despots in history were probably pretty 'capable'. If the evangelicals are beginning to realize that there are other qualities that a leader needs other than simply claiming to agree with their religious views – then that's a good thing. Perhaps at some point they will also realize that separation of church and state protect their religious views as well as those who do not share them.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  84. Ray

    Testing implies both the testee and the testor. What would happen if the creators f the "test" are hardcore Republicans or Democrats? I don't think we need to complicate things any more than they already are.Tests take away from the sovereignty of the voter and places it in unknown hands. Besides who would decide the design and questions? Nice idea but not practical in our political world.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  85. Tim Hanigan

    How are the political extremes ever going to agree on which questions determine presedential competency? Better yet, how could we possibly all agree on the correctness of any answers? In today's political environment- there are no absolute truths, only spin and hyperbole. The sky is only blue if it gets votes.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  86. Mike Webb

    Absolutely!!! Weed out the idiots!! Mike Webb Austin Texas

    January 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  87. Zack

    Yes, provided that it was a Civil Service-style exam. While we're at it, we should make most of the high level positions in the Executive Branch merit based as well. Government is like any other process- garbage in, garbage out.

    Woodbridge, VA

    January 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  88. Neatha from Kansas City

    Of course, I had to take a compentency test to get my last job in middle management. This should be a no brainer and yet we are still discussing if we should test our leaders to see if they are compentent to hold office. By the way, I think candidates for Congress should have to take the same test.

    You have to take test to work for the post office, come on.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  89. Macallan

    we should test the voters for competency when they vote for someone like palin.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  90. Joy

    Yes, they should definitely have to pass a competency test to eliminate the people who only know how to talk a good game from the people who can actually do the job.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  91. david

    probably not a good idea, who would decide what the test will cover? we would never agree on that. politics is "survival of the richest" not the smartest and im afraid nothing will ever change that in this country.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  92. Philip - Dallas TX

    A test? What a throw back to post civil war when the test was designed to exclude. The constituion gives only two qualifications – age and a natural citizen – born of an american parent (even if you were born on the moon) qualifies you. The rest is left up to the citizens who unfortunately don't always get it right, but that is what has made this country, constant adjustment and re-alignment! What a stupid, racist idea. In 50 years will the test be in spanish? Be careful what you ask for, the demographic make-up is changing fast.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  93. easyrider - east tennessee

    Yes they should have to pass competency tests. We have SAT's for college hopefuls, we have board exams for the medical field, bar exams for lawyers, CPA exams for certified public accountants.

    Many jobs now are requiring an aptitude test for MS-Office, etc, just to land a job. A resume isn't good enough, now they want proof.

    Why not have a competency test? Even though I don't put much faith in evangelicals, it's still a great idea.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  94. Bill M. - Tennessee

    Yes, but what to ask! 2008, the campaign was all about war, education, social issues, then WHAM Sept. 2008 and the bottom falls out of the economy. I guess nobody was looking. – How do you know what to ask?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  95. Connie

    I absolutely support this. It is far too easy for charismatic lightweights to get voted in...I want them culled from the political spectrum. Competent individuals would ease some of the divisiveness as well...no matter which side of the political divide we fall on, having proof of some kind of competency for our elected leaders would allow a lot of people to rest easier at night.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  96. Phil

    yes, absolutely. The tests should be comparable to finals from major universities, in the topics of economics, us and world history, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and basic constitutional law.

    Voters should also have to take tests at the booth – not to demonstrate topical knowledge, but to at least demonstrate that they can identify the positions of the candidates on the ballot.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  97. Andorf Studman

    Nah, they shouldn't even have to prove they were born here!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  98. Harry

    Dear Jack,

    LMAO with the comparison between Justin Bieber and Sarah Palin...

    January 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  99. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Would it really matter, no one can tell me that Palin is or can ever be competent as a president, she just doesn't have the intellect. Yet, tell her that, she has got to be one of the greatest deniers in human history.

    And, she is not alone. Funny how the ego can outweigh common sense.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  100. Andrew Fukuoka, Japan

    I live and work outside the US. I work with people from all over he world. When people like Sarah Palin speak, all people here do is shake their head and wonder. She makes america look foolish just by giving her the air time to talk. Maybe we can start with the press not giving her the coverage. Then she can hopefully disappear into obscurity and we can see more coverage on credible candidates instead.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  101. Tommy

    We have a competency test. It's called the presidential debates.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  102. W.N. Sanabria, Escondido, CA

    The current process seems to provide a pretty thorough test. The competition to earn the nomination of each party pits them against opponents that are far more fierce than they will encounter in the general election, which is no picnic either. While any reasonable test, such as knowing what the Constitution actually says, would certainly disqualify an intellectual bantam weight (like Palin) it probably would not exclude someone like George W. Bush, who proved to be terrible president.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  103. Meh.

    This is a stupid question. A communist and/or socialist can be smart (technically speaking), doesn't mean they should run the United States of America... Maybe Russia though! Seriously, it must have been a slow day.

    Chris Christie for President 2012! Teleprompter not included!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  104. Adam

    I like the idea but I don't think it should be required. I would like to see it voluntarily done. Some issues: who would issue the test, who would make sure that it's not biased or racist (remember the problems the LSAT and other higher learning tests faced?)?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  105. John, Fort Collins, CO

    This is a very tough question from a constitutional perspective. It is obvious the Founding Fathers of our country could never have imagined potential candidates with zero qualifications actually being put on the ballot to lead the nation, but here in this age and time we do have them. I personally am in favor in honoring the intelligence of the majority of the voters to weed out the losers.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  106. Karl in Mich

    Too late Jack, that horse is out of the barn. "W" got elected, started two bogus wars and executed both disastrously, turned a surplus into a staggering deficit and trillions in debt all the while his wealthy friends and oil comrades made out, literally, like bandits. The voting public should be required to pass a competency test, but we know how badly that went in southern black districts, don't we? Sadly, we get what we vote for.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  107. chuck

    Good idea! The candidate should also be literate in the English language. e.g. understand what you are saying..SP?? Doubt it.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  108. Catherine McHenry

    Yes. Being able to raise millions for a campaign does not qualify anyone to be President either. Each serious candidate should be able to pass a comptency test on Constitution, US History and how the govermnent works. Like how to write and pass a bill into law. You know basic government . None of recent candidates are smart enough to pass such a test.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  109. Shelley

    You mean there isn't one already? That explains a lot...

    January 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  110. Skyler from New York

    We definitely need to administer such tactics with the upcoming elections. While we're at it, make this test required for all voters as well.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  111. Ken in NC

    Our school age kids cannot pass simple school test today and would be the same ones that have to pass a competency test in 20 years. Then you have today’s politicians that can’t tell a country from a continent and others that know only a Noun, a Verb and 9-11. Who would lead the nation when no one can pass the test?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  112. Chris

    Perhaps the media should be forced to pass a competency test before they start pushing news about idiot candidates. Not to say that presidential hopefuls shouldn't, but the big problem here is the idiots pushing the (other) idiots into the spotlight.

    We would get decent presidential candidates if we got rid of party politics. Dems need to lean as far left as possible to get through the primary and Repubs need to lean as far right to get through the same mess. The result is that we NEVER get a candidate that would actually be the BEST choice and we are left to choose between the two choices that appeared crazy enough to get through the primary mess.

    Perhaps we should require voters to pass a competency test before they vote. How about requiring people to be informed before they choose! If voters actually weighed the candidates rather than voting for whoever the media pushed forward, we would have very different leadership.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  113. neoritter

    Should we bring back literacy tests for voting too?
    I'm all for voters taking a potential candidates competency into account, but an actual test would be frivolous and completely void of usefulness. Tests can not keep incompetent people out of public office.

    Manassas, VA

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  114. Harry Tomlin

    It is not possible to design a test to determine if a person can solve future problems that do not yet exist.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  115. Deborah Nixon

    It's called an election.

    Lake Monticello, VA

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  116. sleonard

    Define "competence".

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  117. Gerry

    Who is competant to write the compancy test, surely not Sarah Palin.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  118. Elle

    Only problem with that is who determines competency. How is it defined

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  119. Ziggy

    Yes Jack, it's called a campaign.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  120. Andy

    I think its a great idea in principle, but then who sets the test, decides on its content and decides who passes. Its gonna end up with a vote .....

    January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  121. Terry A. Burger

    Forget the competency test for President, add it for the Congress and the senate. On second thought, that may not be a good idea, we would probably lose two thirds of the Senate and half the Congress.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  122. Rick

    Absolutley!! Start with geography....where is Russia exactly??..

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  123. Brian

    I agree with Ray, any substantive questions would be too ambiguous to judge effectively without charges of bias. Thus, the only questions that would be usable would be trivia questions. By that logic we should elect Mr. Jeopardy or the slumdog kid to be president!

    We could try electing people who have actually achieved something other than being elected to office...just a thought.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  124. Alvin

    Are you kidding me? Who would administer the test? Who will write the questions? Who will grade the test? I thought that "competency" would be determined by the people, through a thurough debate system. Have we come to the time when one must be judged by his peers "prior" to running for office? Sounds like he or she will need to present themselves in front of a judge and jury. Running for president should not be a crime or treated as such. Fix the debate system with proper questions dealing with "real" american problems not just the big problems facing us. Open the debates to "all" viable candidates. I for one am tired of the "manchurian candidates" thrown at us by our failing political parties. The candidate, no matter the aptitude they possess, must be a true patriot to the core. Government has become a business and not an institution as our founders had seen it.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  125. Sarah D

    A competency test drafted by whom? Members of the federal reserve?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  126. Manny

    Hey Jack,

    I think they do that already LOL...Remember the Button test on Nuclear arms during 2008? LOL...

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  127. sandy murphy

    Jack: Perhaps the folks who vote should have to take a competency test to see if they understand the issues. Anyone who believes in "death panels" cannot vote. Our uninformed electorate is also part of the problem.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  128. Jason Hall

    yes. fantastic idea. but why stop at the presidency? why not require a competency test for all of congress? it's almost amusing to think how many current members would fail that test. good luck getting it passed. but if it comes to a vote; i'm all for it.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  129. John


    Voters need a competency test. Any voter who thinks Sara Palin is an intellectual heavyweight is clearly incompetent to go to the polls.


    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  130. Josh

    If so that would knock Sara Palin wouldn't have a chance.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  131. Steve

    The implementation of a competency test would probably eliminate half of the front runners for the GOP, especially Sarah Palin. Personally I think this should be put to the test to eliminate idiots from ever obtaining a chance of becoming the President of the United States

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  132. SanWrites

    Yes, a competency test graded by high school history teachers would be a great improvement in the system.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  133. Roslyn Steverson, Neptune, NJ

    I am going to forgo my normal politically correct response to say, "HELL YES!!"

    A leader should have some exceptional quality that sets them apart from others. Why would we want anything less than a "C" student or a person of average intellect to run our country? It begs the question, "Who is running our country if all the Presidential Advisors are the intellectuals?"

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  134. Eric NY

    A competency test?? Sarah Palin would have to file a discrimination lawsuit.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  135. Stephanie Ann

    I think this is a sound and logic concept...perhaps Bush W. wouldn't have happened if this had been put into affect sooner. I don't think it would pass though due to political corectness in this country.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  136. Michael Pa

    Why weren't they asking this question back in 1999? It would have saved the country alot of pain and national debt.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  137. Dan C Bloomington IN

    They already do! It's called an election...

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  138. Aaron

    Definitely as long as it can be demonstrated as objective.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  139. Arnaud

    I wish more candidates would come forward with answers, intelligent thought and substance rather than sensationalism that is driven and emphasized by the media. (on either side of the political fence)

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  140. Jamahl

    Jack, They already have a 21 month grueling competency test. It's called a campaign! We need to have a competency test for your blog questions

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  141. Janete Miranda

    Sure, why not? One has to pass tests for every other job in this country, so why not for the most important job? One immediate benefit would be to weed out the obviously incompetent, right off the bat.

    Marietta, GA

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  142. Burbank from CA

    Yes! Yes! And Yes! That's a great idea. It should also extend to Senate and Governor offices. Enough with the beauty queens, wrestlers, actors and bored housewives. If they can't pass the test they will just have to find another avenue to get all that narcissistic attention focused on themselves.

    If they belong to these professions but come up through the political ranks by holding lesser offices first (Actually earning the office – that's a novel concept)! they should be able to pass these competency tests without a problem.

    It will keep the presidential candidates careful about picking "pretty" boys and girls as running mates. The thought of a Dan Quayle or an immature, viciously vindictive Sarah Palin with their hand on that red phone is terrifying!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  143. David

    Hell Jack, not only should the President be required to pass a competency test, so should the voters.


    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  144. Eche Echezona

    I was wondering when you'd ask this question. Can you imagine what Sarah Palin's gun speech would be if she was asked to address the Tucson tragedy, as a president? Of course competency matters.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  145. steve

    No, Obama has a Harvard degree and look at his failed presidency.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  146. Mark

    Of course, this would be a great standard requirement for making it onto the polls. Our Founding Fathers likely didn't add this to the Constitution because they just assumed if you made it that far, you must be smart. Not true anymore.

    But what about the people who work in the President's administration? Shouldn't they be tested too?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  147. Rich

    A competency test is most likely not needed. A simple hand held thumb activated counter is all that should be required. We know they shoot themselves in the foot, we just need to count how many times they bite their own hands when eating a sandwich.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  148. Nick Nichols from Mississippi

    A competency test for a President? Jeff, what will that prove? If this competency test can show us if the President of the United States can understand people in NYC, Miami, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Poor, Rich, then yes, I would love for him/her to take it. But until then, we'll still elect the lesser of the two evils Jeff.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  149. Ed

    What a novel concept! Actually requiring the leader of the most powerful and influential country in the free world...to be smarter than a 5th grader.

    S Orange NJ

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  150. marion, georgia

    Well, this is, um, a no-brainer. Of course they should, but what sort of competency test would be required if the compilers and scorers of such an exam.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  151. Jay Smith

    Seriously, tell me your kidding. They don't have, or been using one already? Well theirs your sign. No wonder anymore.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  152. Christine - Boston, MA

    Dear Jack, Although a little more vetting would be nice, intellilect doesn't necessarily translate well into great Presidential leadership. And then there is the Congress...who administers their test?! What we have here is failure to communicate... The majority have been failing that test for quite some time. Now what?!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  153. Chicken or the egg?

    How about a competency test for voters?
    It is the responsibility of the people to vote for candidates that have the necessary hardware for the job.

    I'd bet the farm that more of the GOP would be disenfranchised than those Donkeys.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  154. Trisha

    I think a Media Test would be easier. If you can't talk to the Media and actually make sense, you're out. Not that I haven't enjoyed Sarah Palin, or George W. They've been entertaining.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  155. Stephen H.

    We have to pass the SAT to go to college, why not some greater test / evaluation to measure the competency of the person we choose to put the most powerful seat in the land. I don't doubt Obama would pass, but George W. and Sarah Palin might not have wasted our time in the seat or seeking the seat, had this been in place some time ago!!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  156. Nancy, Tennessee

    As good as the idea might be, the Constitution gives the requirements for running for the President of the United States. It mentions that being a natural born citizen, of a certain age, and breathing. It takes for granted that if you are dumber than a rock that you will disqualify yourself. Maybe we need to amend the Constitution to include other traits like intelligence.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  157. Mike -Berlinsville, Pa.

    yes, they should.. and so should the rest of the senate and congress. but that would leave every seat on both sides empty. they should take a common sense and loyalty to the country test. that would be a more important.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  158. Josh

    If so Sara Palin wouldn't have a chance.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  159. Ira Priesman

    How about a competency test for voters? That should improve the whole political establshment.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  160. Jerry - Oregon

    Definitely Republican candidates should have to. Preachers should have no input into the process. In fact religion should not even be considered!!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  161. Joe B.

    For one of the most, if not the most, important positions in the United States, a test seems like a wise idea. Even NFL players take a competency test!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  162. Carrie in alabama

    Oh , Jack , brilliant idea , why has someone thought of this sooner! Just imagine the possibilities, they could just go on and on, also could be used for the runnign mate, our congressmen and women and those running for the senate. The only problem this would really knock down and limit the GOP list more than the ones for the Dems .

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  163. Donnie H. Bay St. Louis Ms.

    What do I think about a competency test to be President?... Palin's failin...

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  164. Stephen - Edmonton, Canada

    IF you're going to have a competency test for the president, then you might as well include competency tests for congressman and senators as well. But then if that kind of system were instituted for these politicians, then there wouldn't be a system of government, now would there?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  165. Jessica

    Novel idea, having a presidential candidate prove they're intelligent enough for the office, rather than relying on charisma, charm and wit to win the office by popular vote. Although a better solution would be a competency test in order to vote. We're the ones who elect the President to office; voters are often lacking in background knowledge of candidates and the issues at stake for us as a country. When the length of a candidate's name, color of their skin, religious preference, and gender have more to do with receipt of voter approval than intelligence and past record, the country is in trouble.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  166. David Goodall

    Anytime a Fortune 100 Company searches for a senior executive, usually a head hunter firm screens potential candidates before submitting a short list to the hiring Company. The role of USA President has far greater impact than a company CEO. Therefore it makes total sense for the candidates by party to be screened before they stand for Primary election

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  167. Terry

    No more than cable talking heads should submit to a competency test.

    I suspect if people like Limbaugh and Beck were pschologically screened before they were turned loose on the most fragile segment of the public, we'd be hearing a lot less from some of the wingnuts who think they're qualified to be president.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  168. Greg of Mechanicsburg PA

    Preseason football gives teams a chance to see how players will resond to real life situations that they will encounter on the job. An assessment center is a system that takes snippets of real world situations faced in the applicant's job and lets them show how they would deal with them. It measures the required skills and is highly face reliable. We could use an accessmenet center for the presidency to glean out those most competent and then submit the results to the public for final selection. That is called multiple assessors which also adds to the reliability of the test.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  169. Justin- Arizona

    Yes, yes, and yes.

    In the world we live in today, there are many people who think that they are capable of doing something, but they are not, and our president should be capable of doing something before they even try to do this. This way we won't get anyone who would ruin America, and just make the terrible situation that we are in now, a worse one.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  170. Rick Vancouver Canada

    Doesnt that numbskull know that Justin Beiber is a Canadian, this guy fails his own test!!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  171. Mark

    Maybe its the voters who should be subjected to a competency test?
    After all.. they're the one's who elect the candidate into the office. Maybe smarter voters would elect smarter candidates?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  172. John

    Competency test? Good idea but who would administer it? Maybe the Pope? We could then revive the 1960 cry of "In the Pope we hope" What do you think?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  173. Jeff, Charlotte, nc

    Yes, and they should also have to prove that they are an American citizen by producing an authentic birth certificate just like I had to due to join the military, get a driver license, and a passport.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  174. Hugh Messenger

    Instead of a competency test, how about Major League Politics introduces a Designated Hitter rule for Presidential campaigning. So for instance, the GOP could field Huckabee as their actual candidate, but with Palin acting as the Designated Hitter for purposes of campaigning, thus separating telegenic vote winning from the actual business of running the country.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  175. Renee

    Absolutely. There will be candidates who would not be able to pass basic elementary level geography tests. Candidates who are completely ignorant and culturally illiterate, and who cannot separate religion from politics. Unfortunately may Republicans are to be found in this category. So therefore one more term for President Obama is what we need.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  176. Lorne

    Hi Jack,
    I had said this during the last election cycle.
    "In regards that George Bush never would have been elected, thus avoiding an illegal war".
    To Add one should be born on native soil, not any sort of distant area implied to be of US territory, this way "McCain" would have been illegible as well.
    As far as all of the other "Miss- Leaders" are concerned it is extremely entertaining.
    All the best,

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  177. Dan C Bloomington IN

    They already do. It's called an election!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  178. Meredith

    We are the competency test, as scary as that is. Or at least as voters we should be. We, as a culture, shouldn't let the obviously imcompetent be relevant to our politcal system. But every time we pay attention to those who demonstrate poor understanding of our government and culture, we allow more and more people to pass through. And while I think some people in the politcal scene these days could barely pass the SATs, a written test is a poor alternative to the democratic system we should have.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  179. Steve

    Should a candidate be required to pass a competency test –absolutely! They should also be required to pass a citizenship test.

    Dothan Alabama

    January 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  180. Michael Pazden

    Forget about a competency test for Presidential candidates.How about one for VOTERS. Let's start with a minimum of a high school diploma and proficiency in the English language. Might force the candidates to lessen their reliance on sound bites and demagogery.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  181. Gerry

    Since your question is linked to a picture of our next fearless leader, are you suggesting that simply fogging a mirror is not enough?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  182. Remie

    Competency test. Isn't that what the free press is for in a democracy, assuming we are still living in a democracy? Aren't they supposed to aid the voter in evaluating the candidates. If we need a competency test for candidates, our democracy is already dead. So what difference will a test make??

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  183. Gwen, NJ

    I can see it now. "Did he cheat?" "Is that answer acceptable?" "Did someone get a copy of the test ahead of time?" "Did this person have an unfair advantage over everyone else?"
    The test papers would end up in the Supreme Court.
    So no Jack. Let's fix the system we currently have before tossing else that could be disputed into it.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  184. Bobby Helton

    Yes, there should be a competency test. But probably more important than the President, there should be competency tests for Fox News television personalities: they're dangerous to competent information.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  185. Bob fom Long Island

    A competency test? How about a lie detcector test. It's the voters need the the Compentency test

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  186. Joe Geshel

    Yes, but only if I get to write it. Competency is like pornography, "I know it when I see it." The campaigns are just such a competency test already. Nobody passed it last time and yet we got ourselves a President.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  187. Louis in CA

    It's a nice idea, but what test? Who would decide the questions? If I was putting the test together my first question would weed out most. "Do you believe in Evolution?" If one answers "no" to this you are immediately disqualified to be our President. Feel free though to run for a religious office...

    The test to pass is convincing the American people. But with our education standards falling and the rise of the religious right, it will only be a matter of time before a future candidate "passes" and we end up with our "last" President. At that point, the downfall begins (if it hasn't started already.) RIP in USA.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  188. William

    Jack I am 29 and worried about this country. A test for the candidates I think is probably the best course of action. Please God do not put Palin any where near a position of power! William

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  189. Nancy G

    No, Jack. Who would put together the test? Too many interpretations of the facts with too little agreement in this age "of this my opinion, and it's right"–some school districts in the country can't even decide what should be in textbooks. We used to listen to scientists and the educated, but now they are the "elites" and suspect. Now we listen to the loudest, richest, most charismatic...no matter how empty headed. I wouldn't trust a test that would really be meaningful in the land of Bachmans, Becks, Palins, (and there are probably some more on the left, too, but the left doesn't scare me) nan, nh

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  190. Reggie

    From what's been stated thus far, maybe the competency test should not be for a candidate,but the voter.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  191. Lorrie

    Stupid people can pass a test. I want a leader with common sense. Is there a test for that?


    January 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  192. Aaron Poisson

    As a Sergeant in the Army National Guard, I had to undergo a competency test to serve in America's armed forces. Therefore, I believe our Commander and Chief ought to do the same. The President of the United States must be competent in today's ever changing global climate.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  193. Luke

    Well, no. Every President since Raegan has graduated from either Harvard or Yale and how is that working for us? We might as well have a wet t-shirt contest... Bachmann?... Palin?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  194. theresa spada

    Hi jack are you kidding me , all they have to be competent in is making deals and making money for themselves, for that they dont need to read or write just be able to count money

    January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  195. Fred in L.A.

    Come on Jack, If we'd had this proposed test, our current President would have certainly failed due to his lack of political and business expertise. Oh on second thought, maybe it is a good idea.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  196. Jim

    Definitely! Voters, too. Unfortunately, I don't know of any test for common sense. Do you?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  197. Hether

    You bet" cha Jack,
    Too many superficial suits & not enough depth content,
    Hether, Dusty & Michael In St. Louis

    January 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  198. Shem - NYC

    Would that be a Conservative, Liberal or Independent Test?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  199. albert zigler jr

    I believe the people who vote for the president should be given a compentency test.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  200. Matt

    We don't need a candidate who, as the actual DeMoss email cites, is "ready to govern and serve as the CEO of the largest enterprise on the planet": the United States IS NOT AN ENTERPRISE, no matter how much the right-wing would like it to be. I can't think of any real company that would put up with management that consistently ignored reality ("tax cuts don't create deficits", anyone?) and/or was frequently guided by their invisible friends. Would you buy stock in a company that made decisions by the CEO "hearing the voice of the Lord", or that made "flying pants" that it *assured* you worked in spite of a scientific consensus saying they didn't?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  201. Richard St. Romain

    I had to have certain levels of compentency to work for Westinghouse manufacturing nuclear reactors. My daughter has to pass MANY compentency tests to be a school teacher in south Louisiana. Even have to pass a compentency test for drivers licence,etc.

    Of COURSE, candidates should have to pass compentence test. There could be two test:
    1. Absolute mininimun in history, goverhnment, etc.
    2. Tests about foreign countries governments, religions, histories & freedom of it's citizens, etc.
    Maybe we would not focus on dramatic speeches, political correctness, dinner table bilble thumpers & poor pitiful uneducated criminals-it's-not-their-fault candidates.

    Richard St. Romain

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  202. roberta dwyer

    I am sick and tired that only rich, very rich people can run for our presidency. They hound for money. Why can't they just make lots of decent videos, post then, and let everyone know what they think, how they would solve a problem, and how they are capable of dealing with foreign politics. Get money out of the office for presidency!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  203. Brian

    Competence should come down to the most basic of questions for the US. Questions like "What is the second amendment?" Leave no doubt in anyone's mind that a wrong answer equals somebody wrong for the job.

    As a Canadian however, I think this type of thing would take away from the overall hilarity that is the television show of the United States.

    There is a series finale coming up... Palin is back. This is better than Vinny Chase's cocaine being found after Eminem kicked the crap out of him in Entourage...

    Go States.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  204. len

    Americans love reality shows and this is a good one have all political candidates go on "are you smarter than a fifth grader "before running save time and money and the people will get a good chuckle.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  205. Wendel

    Yes there should be a competency test for President and all members of Congress. Candidates should definitely know the constitution. George Bush Jr. lowered the standard for president and governor. Sarah Palin would further lower the standard if she got elected. If you can't expect the voters to be educated about the different parties and what they stand for, then at a minimum the candidates ought to be qualified. I find it very entertaining when a republican or democrat announce that their opponent is not qualified. George Bush proved that most anybody is qualified. Except for Palin. She would definitely lower the standard even more. Amazing that the republicans actually give these people opportunity to run.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  206. sue

    Should a President have to pass a competency test? Oh my yes. You have to pass a TEST to get a job with the phone company. There most certainly should be a test, this might weed out some of the less qualified candidates. P.S. Jack you rock.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  207. George

    I suppose that the possibility of "stupid" getting elected President reveals a glitch in system. But I'm sure "chance" will come through as it did in creation and everything will be alright.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  208. Al in Atlanta

    No. The presidency reflects the will (save the electoral college) and intellect of the people. Collectively we've proven to be a pretty dumb lot (a certain intellectually challenged political party comes to mind), and if the leader of our nation reflects our own collective stupidity, then so be it. Considering education is the first thing that's cut when trimming government budgets, we deserve whatever we get.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  209. Dan Buskirk

    The American presidential campaign is long and arduous enough. The free press does a good job vetting a candidate and intellectual weaknesses come through via interviews and debates. No doubt I want a president smarter than me...doesn't seem too tough. And it's pretty easy for me to tell when a candidate isn't.
    Dan in West Virginia

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  210. Karl in Mich

    How about, they all have to WIN on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"That should limit the field by 75%.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  211. Pierrette

    Who would create such a compentency test? It wouldn't matter anyway, with this last election, it was all about the superficial rhetoric without the facts. The American people would just ignore the test and vote partisan anyway. But I would love to know if the Politicians in office are smarter than a 5th grader?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  212. Manny

    My friend Colleen says "it won't work for Palin. She writes answers on her hands"

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  213. Tommye Weddington

    I think that it's a good concept, but is ultimately unfeasible because it requires consensus on the standards of being "competent."

    Tommye from Columbus, Georgia.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  214. Chuck Barker

    Of course they should. The legacy of several of our recent past presidents should demand it.

    The same should be so for members of Congress.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  215. Robert K

    Hello Jack::

    It's a great idea to have a competency test for presidents. Had there been one, George W. Bush would never had been elected.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  216. Ron Siegel

    I really think voters should pass a competency test. I'm amazed how many of the American voting public can be so easily manipulated by spin and lies. It seems people prefer misinformation over common sense. It's really scary. I suppose if you believe President Obama is a Muslim or Kenyan would mean you pass the test.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  217. Dena Kelley

    I think that interviews by the media and the debates between candidates probably cover this. If anything, I'd say maybe we should require a competency test to be a voter.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  218. Maurice. M

    If a competency test is necessary in preventing 'another' Bush then yes they should go for it because I don't think The U.S is ready for a another clueless president.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  219. Tim In Plantation

    I thought the constitution deliberately wanted to avoid such things. Let the press expose the ignorance of the candidates like it did with Palin. That worked well for Obama. On the other hand why not have a test for voters, that way this would not be an issue.

    Plantation, FL

    January 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  220. Ross, Charlotte, NC

    We have candidates running for pres. that I am sure would not know what state the Grand Canyon is located. We have had at least three past presidents that murdered the pronounciation of the word "nuclear". This should be unacceptable as one should be very well educated in order to be commander-in-chief of this country. Presently that emphasis should be on the mathematics that is required to put a lid on the wild spending of money, since this country is going broke at warp speed!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  221. marcus

    I an lead to believe there is a test put out by the Bilderberg Group. ;~)

    January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  222. Rick @Durand

    Those with crib notes written on their hand should be sent to the principal's.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  223. Sammy

    Jack, though Sara and a lot of them masquarading as potential presidential candidates, may not pass the CT, unfortunately the constitution does not see the test as a requirement for the highest office.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  224. Cory

    Although a competency test is absolutely a good idea in theory, don't ask me to write the questions! In a country that has just watched one of the most complicated policy discussions in history–the health care fiasco–degenerate into an over-the-top rhetorical battle that seemed more obsessed with name calling and politics than the actual health of the nation, how can we possibly hope to come up with a standardized exam that both parties, and a majority of citizens, believe to be an adequate assessment of the most important presidential characteristics? And who would be the one to decide if a candidate "passes" anyway? It may be a nice idea, but right now it is just a pipe dream.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  225. Francis

    Yes. The president is responsible for more lives then any one person in the country. In any professional field where one person is responsible for another there are requirements, testing and licensure to ensure the safety and general preservation of the "public good". Healthcare is just one example of this practice. The presidential oath of office states, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    Maybe a test of a candidates knowledge of the constitution would be a good place to start.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  226. steve - virginia beach

    We already have a competency test administered by eligible voters. The test results become known on election day. What's lacking in our system is a media that objectively educates all voters on the issues and fairly and equally vettes all candidates.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  227. Bob

    A competency test? Wouldn't that be the end of America as we know it... We have a great Country but it's stuck in the never ending cycle of voting for new canditates hoping things will change.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  228. John

    How about a test for all elected offices at and above the congressional level? Representatives and Senators should be tested as well as presidential cantidates! Then, how about a basic test for registered voters in order to determine if the voters are smart enough to determine if the officials running for these offices are competent? Who wants ignorant voters electing ignorant polititians? (Sometimes it appears that is exactly what we have, now!) Concerning the type/style/contents of the tests: basic questions from the existing SAT tests from the last 10 years coverning history, geography, reading/retention ability, science, etc. This whole concept is a great idea!!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  229. Mark

    This idea would not work. The reason is that intelligent people believe that candidates should be intelligent. Those who are not so intelligent tend not to think so, and would not be swayed by the knowledge that a candidate they like is not particularly bright.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  230. The Mudshark in Oregon

    A minimum IQ requirement of 50 would eliminate most of the brain dead candidates from the GOP. I think our president needs to be at least as intelligent as a lump of feces, or Glenn Beck.

    Disclaimer to all you lumps of feces out there – sorry to compare you with Glenn Beck.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  231. Tawsif

    Not a bad idea Jack. But it’s a free country, so everyone has the liberty to run for office. I think it’s more important now that the voters need to go through a competency test on their ability to choose the right one. Did we forget electing G.W. twice? We better not.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  232. Matt

    The problem here is how "competence" is defined. Experience? Intelligence? A high level of what is termed "emotional intelligence?" Nevertheless,there should be some kind of standard beyond the basic requirements that the Constitution defines. The Founders, I'm sure, never truly imagined a day where morons like George W Bush or empty suits like Barack Obama could become President, based largely on "likeability" factors.

    Saint Augustine, Fl

    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  233. Pierrette

    Who would create such a compentency test? It wouldn't matter anyway, with this last election, it was all about the superficial rhetoric without the facts. The American people would just ignore the test and vote partisan anyway. But I would love to know if the Politicians in office are smarter than a 5th grader?


    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  234. George From Boston

    Sure; especially now when empty heads have destroyed American Image abroad and if that were the case, three names names will cry wolve, namely Palin first, Sarah second and Palin again thrid. And for sure reason, I would not be surprised if John is charged with betrayal of a good course.


    January 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  235. John

    And while we are at it, let's test reporters. Too many of them are dumber than Palin.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  236. LW

    Hey Jack,

    Let's face it, if there were competency tests for most elected positions our government officials would fail miserably! How about letting your accomplishments speak for you...oh....wait.....that's right, many don't have any accomplishments other than winning the darn election! By the way, who would develop these competency test? I'm not sure that incompetent people could develop a test for competency for their own positions let alone the presidency!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  237. ernie barela

    by all means a candidate should be tested to make sure he is competent or we could end up with another george w bush that can't speak the english language correctly.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  238. Fresnel Nicolas jr

    as a collage student i must say hell yea! we do not need another bush ever again in the white house or in are gov. so many of us feel that because there have not been a smart president in the white after bill that this is why are beautiful country is the way it is now! we are not to happy with Obama but at less he is smart enough to get us some what out of what bush did!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  239. 080080

    Politicians are supposed to be public servants. As public servants it would be absolutely appropriate to subject political candidates to a civil service exam of some kind.

    Military recruits are subject to the ASVAB. Postal workers, air traffic controllers and foreign consulate officers are all subject to civil service exams.

    China limited political office to scholastically gifted candidates, which was demonstrated by the results of the Chinese Imperial Examination.

    What should political candidates be expected to know? The function and mechanics of the US government for starters. Taxation based economics, regardless of party affiliation. A conservative leader should be just as well versed in liberal economic theories as they are in conservative ones.

    The American gene pool is not stagnant. It is possible to find candidates who are morally sound as well as scholastically gifted.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  240. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    No doubt the presidential proficiency test (if created) will be as effective and truthful as the national educational proficiency tests. Anyway, who will create this gem of an instrument? The test Csar?
    And how would right and wrong answers be determined...by lobbyists? Our best test is the one we have now with minimal control. When an incompetant gets elected, the person only gets 4 years to screw up, then its back to community organizing (for less money and no AF-1).

    January 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  241. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Will someone explain to me why religion has to embed themselves so deeply into politics.

    For an organized group who professes to "love thy neighbor" they sure exclude and demonize anyone who does not think or act like them. That is the worse kind of ideological absolutism and bigotry and does nothing but create hate and hopelessness.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  242. Joan Gilbert


    It would help if the candidate knows where Russia is located!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  243. Euion

    After Americans elected a young, intelligent, good looking President but without any experience the competency test becomes a must. Otherwise we will spend many other trillions without any benefit for the country. I prefer an ugly, mumbling man, who KNOWS how to run the faith of the people entrusting him the task. Be that a Governor, Mayor of a metropolis, etc. Ideology specialists need not apply.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  244. John

    And who would define the contents of this test? Gee there is immediate failure staring you in the face. Frankly, the only one that should exist is that to run for President, you cannot belong to a party and cannot have any connections with any lobbyists

    January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  245. John Walsh - Mesa, AZ

    Yes, there should be a competency test.

    Right away, all liberals and progressives should be declared incompetent. Just the fact that they believe the gov't can solve all the countries problems calls into question their intelligence.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  246. Will

    Yes, and the work "maverick" should be banned from all future debates.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  247. Ed


    What a great idea!!! Then we wouldn't have to worry about the community organizers again. And how 'bout providing a birth certificate before the competency test.


    January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  248. Andrew

    Dear Jack, Candidates should not be required to pass any test, but it sure would be nice if it became traditional to TAKE a test like this. Then the American people could decide how those test results factor in to their vote. And if someone chooses not to take such test, well, that would speak for itself.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  249. IKE (CT)

    Certainly they have pass a competency test so we are sure we have a guy smart enough to see the Chinese as a threat not a friend

    January 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  250. Michael

    Competency test? But of COURSE! not only one test but several! our recent presidential elections strongly suggest that candiates need to be tested for such subjects as geography "Sarah Palin", "the name of relatively important presidents, such as Pakistan, Georoge W Bush, and more recently questions about cognitive tests to be sure the candidate does not suffer from Alzheimer's disease. One can also add an EQ or Emotional Quotient test as Obama is perceived as being too intellectual and not relating to the "feelings" of people ...well if this will cost too much what about just a lie detection test?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  251. theresa spada

    HI jack are yiou kidding me, all they have to be competent in, is making deals and making money for themselves, for that they don't need to read or write just be able to count money

    January 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  252. Mary E Kaiman

    Given the exceptional President we already have, I think he should do a repeat performance and continue for another 4 years: He is brilliant, he surrounds him self by other brilliant, competent people, he is a superb communicator, who Iis able to explain difficult concepts in a manner than anyone can comprehend with clarity, calmness, and civility.

    I'm not sure any other current prospects even come close! But competence, civility, compassion are absolutely crucial!

    Thank you, Jack, for your inspiration,

    Mary Kaiman

    January 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  253. Judith Blasquez

    Absolutely our presidents should have to take a competency test. I expect the leader of the free world to be at least as intelligent as a
    teacher, lawyer, or doctor, and all of these professions require
    competency tests.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  254. martin

    ALL folks running for any public offices, local, state, national, should absolutely be psychologically tested before running for office. This is most important now, with so many seriously damaged folks running, and in office now.
    We want the best minds as our representatives.
    They make life and death decisions.

    I am a retired psychologist, and a veteran.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  255. Scott

    Mr. Cafferty-

    There are plenty of people in the political game who I certainly do not feel would be competent enough to teach high school, let alone become president. Still, the idea of a competency test is scary. What makes someone competent, and who decides? Having a "business background" can't be the first priority. After all, business leaders like Romney don't have a great track record. Both Bushes, for example, amassed massive federal debts during their presidencies, so their business backgrounds didn't prove too useful, anyway.

    Personally, I want someone smarter than me who has the critical thinking skills to help America become a "more perfect union." We don't need to create a test for that or any other criteria, though. The real solution is for the American people to get past their fear of the "elitism" of smart people and to start considering intelligence an asset rather than a liability. We've had a "C student" for president already. Do we really want a flunkee?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  256. James B

    No, but then candidates are already scrutinized and dissected ad nauseum by the press. Instead what we need is a competency test for voters. And perhaps one for certain political commentators would go a long way as well.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  257. Jersey Boy

    Right Jack, let's start making rules about who is qualified to run for President and you and Keith Olbermann can be the "Deciders".

    How about if we apply the same test you would applty to candidates to
    the folks that cast the ballots. Oh Yeah, for good measure, the ballots can only be printed in English and can not be submitted by people who are legally dead.

    That might limit the Democrat voter turnout in Chicago.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  258. Ann from Charleston SC

    On first look, it seems like a good idea. Then, one wonders what competencies would we test? Intelligence? knowledge of the Constitution? How government works? Even these don't cover the breadth and depth of what is involved in the presidency. How do you create a test for leadership ability? How do you cover the entire scope of what is involved in government? We have done pretty well thus far, with a few duds, but mostly we have elected the right person at the right time. The American public seems to know who can do the job. Remember what Oprah said when asked what she thought of Sarah Palin as president – something about having more faith in the judgment of the American people.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  259. Uke

    I have a better idea. Rather than calling into question the legitimacy of the tests or the scoring etc. , just have all of the candidates write their own speeches without help. The clarity of thought and communication abilities will be immediately apparent. You'll be able to quickly tell who's the light-weight.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  260. Bob Davis

    I would be highly concerned about who would be in charge of creating the competency test you propose. Would it be the same people who made up those memorable tests black voters had to take before they were disqualified from voting. And who decides this COMPETENCY thing anyhow?

    Bob Davis
    Las Vegas.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  261. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    No, it would take the fun out of politics when the majority of us already know whose incompetent and we are competent enough not to give them our vote.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  262. Clark in NYC

    What constitutes being competent? Should FDR's "secret" paraplegia have disqualified him? How about Lincoln's possible dyslexia, or Reagan's possible Alzheimers? If there were an IQ test, I doubt that some of our past presidents, even some of the really good ones, would have made the cut. The voters get to decide who is qualified to be president in this country. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they don't.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  263. JayDeeT

    The media is talking about "competency" tests for presidentiual candidates ONLY because the media have been giving tons of air time and attention to vapid, shallow, ignorant politicians like Palin who wkno absolutely nothing about the Constitution, the federal government, economics, American society, and anything relating to world events.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  264. RG

    A competency test? What, where, when, how, why and whose criteria will the competency test be based?

    Taylorsville, NC

    January 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  265. louise wilson

    My physics teacher in high school graded on the curve. I am glad. Because when asked how many ping pong balls could fill a certain box I refused to answer. Ping pong balls can never fill any box. I got an F on my paper for not answering. I ended up with a C for Physics by the end of the year. What will happen with this test? Just how competent will the questions be?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  266. Anthony

    Although interviews and debates do give a sense of visible competency, they still focus on views and the ability to speak. To me, the presidency goes far beyond this. A competency test should be engendered to test the candidates on the various skills they would need to run the country. The test should be revised many times by each side of the isle to filter out any partisanship. This test should show no values; it should only show the candidates ability to implement their values. Furthermore, the results should only be given in a report, not a score (as easy as scores are to read, they do not give a whole picture). However, taking it to determine if the candidate should run for president does not seem right. I believe the test results should be used by the people, along with the speeches, debates, and any other ideological signs; to filter out the candidates through the process of primaries and such.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  267. Desroy from Queens, NY

    Jack. The answer is yes and President Obama should be the format. He could win by a landslide and be presidential.The proof is in the pudding. Mitt Romney? Hmm..

    January 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  268. Jon

    Wow my first thoughts were what a great idea but then I thought of all the people I know who are extremely smart , but are dumb as a brick when it comes to common sense.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  269. Ken MacPike

    Competency Tests should be required for Presidential candidates as well as senators,congresspeople,teachers AND OH YEAH...Parents to be...thats probably where we should start since everyone agrees that "Parenting is the MOST IMPORTANT and HARDEST job in the world." When you allow just anybody to give birth and rear children a competency exam should probably be thrown in there somewhere !!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  270. Steve

    Better than a test would be substantive fine on any candidate, newspaper or pundit submitting misinformation as truth to the voting public.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  271. KR in Western MA

    Great idea, in concept. I could just see our bipartisan legislators agreeing on what goes into the test, and how it's administered . . . .

    January 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  272. Elizabeth

    Who would write this test? Who would grade it? What would be on it? What qualities would make a good president, and how would they be evaluated on a test?

    This is a good enough motive but let's learn from the less than stellar results that over testing is having in our schools. Educational background, debate performance, and work history are better indications than some "standardized president test."

    January 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  273. Angela Haskins

    Absolutely Yes !!! We require people to go through competency tests for far less important jobs. So why should the most important job in the United States be spared competency testing? Too subjective? I disagree. Objective minimum standards can be set. I will be glad to help 🙂

    Angela Haskins
    Marin County, California

    January 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  274. runswithbeer

    Jack, there is a ALREADY a test for presidential candidates, it's called the CONSTITUTION.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  275. Josh Johnsen

    This question is so obviously aimed at Sara Palin. And the answer is yes, there should be competency tests. And no, she would not pass.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  276. Dave S

    Giving a competency test (employment exam) for the leaders of the free world is a great idea, however, what are we going to do when there aren't enough qualified candidates to fill the required number of congressional, and senatorial seats? Just giving the US Citizenship exam would eliminate over 80% of the potential candidates.

    Conversely, it does seem that an incompetency exam is required for some congressional committees. For example, anyone with an accounting background or the ability to accurately calculate budgets or make accurate financial predictions isn't allowed to be a member of any congressional budget committee.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  277. steve - virginia beach

    Who would decide the definition of competency, the folks who think Palin is incompetent or the ones who think Obama is incompetent? And who would determine who gets to decide the final pool of candidates, those who administered the last competency test, allowing some candidates unlimited time to talk in the debates and others hardly any time? And avoided important issues like illegal aliens? And what is the Constitutional authority for a competency test? No, Jack. Bad idea.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  278. Diane

    If there is a test established, can we go back and do a "do-over" for the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  279. Steve

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”

    "Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts” is credited to American financier Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965), who said it in 1946. James R. Schlesinger, United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975, is credited with saying: “Each of us is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), United States Senator from New York from 1976 to 2000, is also often credited with saying: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

    The sayings mean that opinions can differ, but that those opinions must be based on factual truths.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  280. Veronica McNamara

    Excellent idea! Sarah Palin would have been weeded out immediately. Has that woman EVER stated a fact?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  281. Cary


    Mitch from Calif

    Just because Obama is black doesn't mean he isn't a citizen. The governor of Hawaii has confirmed he was born there. There's zero evidence he was born anywhere else. McCain was born outside the US not Obama. I think it's sad that the first black President is the first one in my life, I'm 50, that has ever had his citizenship questioned. It's thinly veiled racism.

    As to the subject at hand I've said for years there should be a competency test for all Congressional candidates as well as Presidential candidates. If you can't pass a high school civics test you have no business running the government. Even Dick Cheney seemed confused about the role of the Vice President so this is a real problem. At least Biden was able to rattle off the role of the Vice President without cue cards.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  282. Gary

    Of course if anyone wants a new job They will need to take some sort of test. They will need to know math and how many zeros their are in 14 trillion dollars. The American People need to get rid of all the politicians and put a farmer in the White House. At least what he plants you can eat but all the politicians do is spread manure on it so it will help to grow but they in turn eat all they fertilize, its a shame we the American People put up with this.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  283. Robin Bray

    Just have them pass their states Standard of Learning tests for High School graduation. Then they will at least know how an amendment is passed. Currently the House does not seem to know this.

    And to improve the quality of drivers on our roads make it a law that if you don't graduate from high school you do not get a drivers license. Should at least cut down on the drop out rate.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  284. Diana

    This country is in need of intelligent leaders,not those who excite crowds and have those with money wanting their ideas to overcome the common man,sending a stupid nut out on stage. Lets have more running from each state such as in Miss America contest and then see who wins.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  285. Joe

    ..and a test for those who vote as well

    January 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  286. Ron

    You would think so, Jack. But they let Bush in! Obviously not in Wall Street or Banks either! There is no test of truthfulness nor honor even though these guys in the Congress throw that abused term around. Reality is that if you don't come from money or have a lot of inherited money, or promise to make sure the rich get more money, you're not in Politics! It's just Power and Greed and the rest of us just try to make do!

    Yeah it would be nice if there was a competency test, but who gets to write the test, Our educational system, really?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  287. Marie MD

    Yes!!! That would pretty much do away with 98% of the nuts in this country (including AK) who think they can be president because they know how to wink and wear hair weaves.
    @bill – it's about intelligence. Your she devil and the texas village idiot would have gotten Fs!!!
    Our country didn't seem as stupid as it has become until the teabaggers and others started pushing that ex wasilla mayor on us as a presidential candidate. A woman who can't even take care of her own children is going to be one fingertip away from nuclear war.
    Yeah, right!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  288. Andrew

    Absolutely! A move such as this is long past due. This test, however, must be free of bias that favors a particular candidate. With that, there should be no questions that examine the merit of hope, question the ungodly strength of Alaskan grizzlies, or analyze the tenets laid out by Joseph Smith and his stones.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  289. Mike Fischer

    Absolutely not. The Constitution sets forth the criteria – and that's enough for me.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  290. Mary from VA

    I think that the American people are intelligent enough to see through
    the "stupid" candidates. Yes, a few of our president's fell through the
    cracks. But, we need to educate the people of America, to look at the issues, do research and not listen to the media, or the hate mongers
    on the radio or TV.

    I for one, want a president, who has high intelligence, a strong ethical base, and a moral compass that is unsurpassed.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  291. Mike Townsend

    Sounds like No Candidate Left Behind.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  292. rob

    That does seem like a great idea but how does one create a test like this? It would have be on broad topics and specific scenarios. Maybe have the top minds on different subjects create questions that have answers which are not based on faith but require knowledge in the subject to answer. Questions that will not be changed based on what political views you have. Then have them randomly selected to create the test. Have these answers public as it is to prove to the people they are capable of governing.

    If people want to know how they will vote based on faith or political affiliation then doing the debates and interviews give those answers. But chances are we already know their views on these topics.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  293. Norm

    It has worked better in the past when no candidate was funded by big corporations or propped up by the media.

    Campaign finance reform would level the playing field and the people would pick the person with the strongest ideas rather than the most money or the most influence.

    Right now, our nation needs people with good ideas. Good people are out there but the public can only find them when the best candidates can afford to play.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  294. LGNY

    Competency tests are an invitation to mischief. In the old days, many southern states had literacy tests. Of course, the whites had an easy sentence to read while the blacks had a complex legal document to read.

    These were all thrown out in the 60's because they were so flagrantly intended to assure that some groups are excluded from the electoral process.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  295. Learson

    Objective tests are developed all the time. Take some questions from the citizenship test, some from the SAT/ACT, constitutional questions from the bar exam, etc. Maybe a new test should be created for candidacy to federal elected office and the citizenship test given to voters before registered.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  296. Tim

    Candidates do not need to take competency tests in order to run for office. Voters need to take competency tests in order to vote.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  297. Tony

    Dah- idea, sounds like the old literacy test...can we please move forward- America?

    January 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  298. Mary

    If they had such a test in 2008 Hillary would be be president today.....what a shame!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  299. Phil Circle, Eau Claire, WI

    A competency test for candidates? We already have one, it's called an election. Maybe we oughta have one for voters, though... just a thought.

    January 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  300. CJM

    NOT! That's what elections are for. The idea that one person/panel can decide what questions should be in/out is an idea born of arrogance over fellow voters. Of course there should not be a competency test separate from the election!

    January 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm |