If you could insist that all the presidential candidates read one book between now and election day, what would that book be? Why?

Books: A Question For President's Day

February 13, 2000

William A. Galston is a professor in the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland, and Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. From 1993 until 1995 he served as Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy.

"One Nation, After All" by Alan Wolfe. Based on interviews with hundreds of middle-class families across the United States, this book documents the emergence of a new moral consensus based on quiet everyday virtues and tolerance for differing religions and ways of life. Politicians who read this book will be more likely to avoid the extremes of intolerance and moral innovation, and to build their public policies on moral foundations widely shared by the American people.

Frances Hughes Glendening is the first lady of the state of Maryland.

Although presidential candidates clearly must be intelligent and experienced, the individual who becomes President of the United States also must demonstrate an incomparable ability to lead our diverse nation with compassion and appreciation of the daily lives of all our citizens. To this end, I "insist" the candidates read "Tuesdays with Morrie," by Mitch Albom because it is a lovingly written biography about an incredibly courageous person, with an indomitable spirit, who, by fighting to hold on to the meaning of life literally until his last breath, reminds us love and compassion are vital to our very existence.

Anthony Barbieri is The Sun's assistant managing editor for metropolitan news and as a reporter and editor for 30 years has covered state and national government and served as a correspondent in the Soviet Union, Japan and elsewhere.

Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment," which makes compellingly clear that it is easy to indentify the important values in public policy, but that life's natural ambiguitiies often make it very difficult to resolve the specifics. Can there be a more important simple truth for a world leader to bear in mind?

Dr. Calvin W. Burnett has been president of Coppin State College for 29 years. He is a social psychologist who is interested in the contribution of literature to the human spirit.

"Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison. In searching for his identity, the narrator, an African-American, realizes that the nature of our society actually prevents us from knowing who we are. This definition and redefinition of one's self parallels the way a nation is defining and redefining itself all the time. In reading this book, presidential candidates will begin to understand some of the major issues facing our country today.

Megan Radebaugh, a junior at Mercy High School, is the vice president of its student council. She lives in Hereford.

"The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. In the book, the tree gives all that she has to the boy -- she gives him her apples, her branches, even her trunk -- she does this without even hesitating and she is able to understand the boy's needs before even he can. The president needs to be able to understand the needs of the nation and be able provide opportunities for citizens to be able to grow and achieve their goals.

Gerry Shields writes about Baltimore City Hall for The Sun. He has covered city, state and federal political elections for 14 years in Baltimore, Orlando, Fla., Washington, Allentown, Pa., and southern New Jersey.

"What It Takes" by Richard Ben Cramer. A fly-on-the-wall perspective of the presidential campaign from the driver's seat. Fascinating detail into what makes a candidate want to do what is often considered the toughest job in the world. But in addition, Cramer provides a road map for unexpected potholes of the presidential campaign that can swallow candidacies. I once asked Sen. Bob Dole his opinion of the book. His reply? "That guy spent more time in my home than I did."

Jack Germond of The Sun's Washington Bureau writes a sundicated column with Jules Witcover, as well as reporting for The Sun. In his 40 years of covering politics, he has written about every presidential election since the 1952 campaigns of Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.

"No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Homefront in World War II" by Doris Kearns Goodwin will show any new president how to keep life in some sense of proportion even at a time of extreme stress.

David Kusnet was chief speechwriter for President Clinton during the 1992 campaign and the first two years of the administration. He is a visiting fellow at the Economic Policy Institute and the author of "Speaking American: How the Democrats Can Win in the Nineties."

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