The Temperament Factor: Who's Best Suited to the Job?

Call it reflexes in a crisis. Or instincts under pressure. The qualities that a President needs to succeed are both essential and elusive

Obama: Jeff Kowalsky / EPA; McCain: Brian Snydeer

Barack Obama, left, and John McCain

Of all the false intimacies of modern life, the promise of a presidential campaign may be the most misleading. We think we know these men well enough to judge them. They come into our living rooms every night, plying us with insight and confession; we know the prayers they say and the beer they drink, their tics, their tastes, their talismans.

But both John McCain and Barack Obama insist that there are things a campaign can't tell you about the temperament of an aspiring President. "Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain asks, as he runs ads attacking...

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