As the fields of candidates in both parties narrow down, we get to see our potential Presidents much more closely. We look at the issues and how they articulate them, how they deal with challenges and adversity, how they handle their zealous staffs and respond to fair and unfair media questions. And ultimately we see both their strengths and flaws. Sometimes the so-called flaws emerge in the strangest ways. Remember Al Gore's impatient sighs during his debate with George W. Bush? Or Gerald Ford's pathetic misstatement about Poland not under occupation in 1976 when debating Jimmy Carter? I recall that Jimmy Carter "lusted in his heart", which is generally not where these things happen.

So let's see where we are now just before the New Hampshire primary. On the Republican side, the always boastful and narcissistic Donald Trump has been reduced to whining and flailing about Ted Cruz' behavior in Iowa. For his part, Cruz took advantage of a half story in the media about Ben Carson packing up and going home to Florida because he was allegedly "dropping out" of the race. It was premature, immature, questionable, and revealing. Above all, it wasn't "Presidential". Do we really want a President who makes decisions without checking out all the facts? Chris Christie has returned to his George Washington Bridge mode by attacking Marco Rubio as a "bubble boy" and a "boy scout". Does he really want to be reminding voters of that now?

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been articulate and experienced - but who on earth is she? She attacks Bernie Sanders for essentially giving the same speech over and over since 1981 when he first ran for mayor of Burlington. But the criticism that she may have not given the same speech twice at any time in that same time period is a pretty fair one, it seems to me. Will Bernie Sanders be a threat to Democrats running for re-election in the Senate, House, and legislatures in 2016? A good question.

Here is where we begin to see what these candidates are really made of. Issues are very important but the character to inspire, lead, legislate, persuade, engage the public, laugh at themselves when they should, and cry with the rest of us when they must - that is what the Presidency is all about. We are not stuck with eldest sons (sometimes daughters) who ascend to thrones. We get to actually cast a ballot. And I just love the process that begins in Iowa and New Hampshire because they see these men and women up close and personal and help us filter what they hear and see.

It is not always pretty but it has always been about the same. Would anyone ever have imagined that a one-term Congressman from Illinois, who went back home to be a lawyer who represented (among others) the behemoth Illinois Railroad (earning about $50,000 a year in the late 1850s, according to historian Richard Hofstadter) would be elected and become our greatest President ever-Abraham Lincoln? Or the political hack who served as a Commissioner of the New York Port Authority before he became a filler on a ticket with James Garfield, became our 21st President, passed the Civil Service Reform Act and is on everyone's list as a Top 20 President - Chester A. Arthur? Or the tool of the Pendergast Gang in Kansas City, who was serving his first term in the Senate and whose only claim to fame came in 1940 when he suggested that we arm both the Nazis and Soviets and watch them kill each other off, who became a Top 10 President - Harry S. Truman.

On the flip side, there is the story of the man with one of the best resumes ever for the job who was globally known as both a successful engineer and humanitarian leader helping to restore order and supplies to a devastated Europe after World War I. That man, Herbert Hoover, is still mainly reviled by historians for his coldness in the wake of the Great Depression.

In some ways, we never know. But mainly we really do know. Campaigns are supposed to reveal a candidate's true character. We are just getting a glimpse right now.