The first person I ever heard say "Colin Powell for president" was me.

That was back in 1991 while I was still in Saudi Arabia. I really didn't know what his politics were, but since he was a soldier, I assumed they couldn't be too radical. So why should I think he would make an exceptional president? Two reasons: first, he is a dignified and confidence-inspiring man who obviously gained the respect of all America, and second, he is black.Because America needs a leader. Not every president fits the bill; most have not.

With President Clinton's personal life the shambles it is, we don't hear his defenders talk much about his inspiring example. Instead we're told that every president was just as dishonest as he is, and what does it matter that the only women he's not trying to seduce are Hillary and Janet Reno? What really matters is that America is prospering.

Whether you believe the president is the one who created all the new jobs and wealth, this isn't leadership. It's management.

But even though America is rich, America isn't happy. And no matter what the media gurus tell us, Americans want to be united. We can prattle on about the value of diversity and tolerance, but we only get along when we actually agree on certain core values.

Americans don't get along because they're divided into special interest groups. But just imagine what could happen if Americans had a leader that spoke to, and for, all of them. Okay, that's not really possible, but someone like Powell could come close.

I believe Americans still want a leader. I don't believe the anchors and talk show hosts who think we should only want a manager and not care if the president is a good example.

Leaders are out there. They might not think they're wanted, though, so we have to find them and persuade them to take the reigns of government The wisest people know that public office is a heavy responsibility and aren't attracted to it by the raw lust for power and notoriety that motivates too many others. We have to let them know we need and want their lead-er-ship.

Don Preston McConkie

Bountiful