I know you're probably tired of my hysterical ranting about the miserable cast of characters in the ongoing theatrical circus of our presidential primary season. If you've read this blog more than three or four times, you already know that:
1. I think George W. Bush has been an utterly disastrous president.
2. I think there's no one now running for president that's fit to hold the office. I respect John McCain, but don't think he'd make a good president...everyone else is a loser of the first rank.
As Sam Rayburn once said, "Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one." Being no ordinary jackass, I guess I should stop griping about how bad all the candidates are and say what it is I'd be looking for in the next president. Here's what UPS would deliver if I were able to order a presidential candidate to my specifications:
1. Sex: either one. Doesn't matter. Whether you stand or sit when you go to the bathroom, or which side of the shirt your buttons are on, has no bearing on what kind of leader you are.
2. Race: black, white, brown, yellow, red, green. Doesn't matter. All brains are gray and hearts are reddish brown...it's what's in them that's important.
3. Vision: I want someone who has a clear idea of what America is and what her role in the world is. I want someone who knows that there are a lot of other countries out there we have to live with, and who understands that you can work with them (aggravating though it might be) and get them on our side, or lecture and hector them and turn them into enemies. I want someone who doesn't just make empty promises, but has the vision of how to turn them into programs that produce results.
4. Religion: I don't care how hard you thump your bible, whether you've memorized the Koran, or can parse the most arcane Talmudic arguments. You and God will eventually sort it all out. I want to know whether you are a moral and ethical person, no matter where you worship (or even if you don't).
5. Good Looks: let's face it - we're naturally attracted to attractive people. I want someone who looks presidential. Someone who can project the air of gravitas and solid respectability that makes me instinctively trust him (or her).
6. Well-traveled: Someone who has never been outside the United States has no conception of how the rest of the world lives and thinks. My ideal candidate has traveled widely and, preferably, lived in a foreign country for a few years.
7. Military Experience: The Constitution makes the President the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. No one ever wants to go to war, but if it has to happen, I'd feel a lot better knowing that the Commander in Chief had some practical experience serving in the military he's supposed to lead.
8. Good Communication Skills: I want a President who sounds presidential. The President wrestles with some of the most difficult and intractable problems on earth, and has to make decisions that affect all of us (and most of the rest of the world). He (or she) absolutely must be able, clearly and concisely, to explain policies and actions to the American people and to the world. We need someone who doesn't speak down to inferiors...we need someone who speaks the truth and inspires us to action.
9. Economic Savvy: no one except an economist understands economics, and every economist disagrees with every other economist most of the time. We need a person who understands that you can't spend more than you earn, and that if you are going to tax your people, you need to spend the money thus earned wisely. "Tax Cuts" is not a complete economic policy.
And finally (for the moment),
10. Humility: when you're the President, isolated within the security and information bubble of the office, it's easy to think that you're God's gift to the nation. You aren't. You're just the man (or woman) who managed to convince enough Americans to vote for you. We haven't had a King since 1776, so don't think like one.
David Broder wrote a good op-ed piece in the Washington Post last month titled "What Presidents Must Know." I hope everyone running for the office, and everyone voting for them, reads it.
Our next President will take office in an extraordinarily difficult time. When he (or she) sits down in that nice chair in the Oval Office for the first time, all the problems of the world will land on the Big Desk with a wet, heavy splat. At that moment, all the sound bites and attack ads and campaign BS no longer mean a thing. At that moment, we have to have a transition from politician to President.
I hope we can find someone to vote for who is worthy of the title, who has at least some of the qualifications I listed above.
But, sadly, I'm not holding my breath.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.