Friday, January 23, 2009

The Presidency

The Presidency
J. D. Longstreet


Well, we have ourselves a new President. For good, or ill, Mr. Obama is "The Man" for at least four years.

I sure as heck did not receive an invitation to attend, and I didn't partake of all the offerings on TV of the Inauguration. I figured I'd see all I wanted to see, and then some, of Mr. Obama over the next four years so why overindulge this early on in the game. Besides, the remarks made by Douglas Adams, a British comedy writer crossed my mind. Mr, Douglas is credited with having said: " Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should, on no account, be allowed to do the job!"

Still there are those who, upon observing the way our US political system works nail it, dead on! Take for instance, this quote from Deng Xiaoping, a former Chinese politician and communist leader, who was the most powerful figure in the People's Republic of China from the late 1970s until his death in 1997. He said this: "The United States brags about its political system, but the President says one thing during the election, something else when he takes office, something else at midterm, and something else when he leaves." See? Even the Commies understand how it works!

Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States said this:
All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.

John Adams, the second President of the US said, in reference to his term in office: "The four most miserable years of my life!" Later, Adams said: "Had I been chosen president again, I am certain I could not have lived another year."

Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the US, said this: "No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it. To myself, personally, it brings nothing but increasing drudgery and daily loss of friends."

Patrick Henry, one of the of the Founding Fathers of the US was not particularly happy with the Constitution and the way it treated the office of President. It is important to note, I think, that Henry wanted a "confederation of states" rather than a "consolidated government" which, he felt, was what the early Constitution did, even before the Bill of Rights was tacked on. In any event, this is what Henry had to say, especially about the office of President: "The Constitution is said to have beautiful features; but when I come to examine these features, Sir, they appear to me horribly frightful. Among other deformities, it has an awful squinting - it squints towards monarchy. And does not this raise indignation in the breast of every true American? Your president may easily become king. . . . Where are your checks in this government? . . . I would rather infinitely - and I am sure most of this convention are of the same opinion - have a king, lords, and commons than a government so replete with such insupportable evils."

President Jimmy Carter once said: "You really have to experience the feeling of being with the president in the oval office. . . . It's a disease I came to call Ovalitis."

President Dwight David (IKE) Eisenhower said this of the decision making by the President: "No easy problems ever come to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them."

Newt Gingrich, always good for a quote, is given credit for having said:
"If the Soviet empire still existed, I'd be terrified! The fact is, we can afford a fairly ignorant presidency now."

I'll return to Harry Truman for another quote on the Presidency. Truman i,s felt by many to be if not the most "grounded" President the US has ever had, then certainly he would rank within the top three. Truman once said: "When you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the twenty-one gun salutes, all those things. You have to remember, it isn't for you, it's fore the Presidency.

Now, I'm not trying to make any particular point here, in this piece, I just thought it would be good to get a perspective on the views of others, especially those who have served in the office of President, or served the office of President, helped to define the office of President, and even, in some cases, reported on the office of the President. It IS an exalted position in our government and our society. But, it is well to remember that those who have served as President and Mr. Obama, who serves today, is "... but a man."

Having established the fact that the President is "just a man" I, along with a multitude of Journalists/Bloggers/Commentators and every living American, reserves the right to excoriate him when he does something with which we do not agree.

Mr. Obama is in for some serious pounding in a few days, or a few weeks, whenever the so-called "Honeymoon" is over. Those of us on the political right have the long knives out, sharpened, and at the ready. We will be slicing and dicing Mr. Obama just as efficiently as the writers on the political left eviscerated Mr. Bush. I would hope we do it with more style, less crudity, and far less profanity and vulgarity than the political left.

In doing so, we should not flinch from the job at hand. I will turn to a quote from one of my favorite former Presidents of the US, Teddy Roosevelt. Mr. Roosevelt was a "man's man" and did not mince words when speaking on a topic he held sincere views about. Roosevelt held strong opinions about the job of, and the office of, the President. He said this:
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”

Taking our lead from former President Theodore Roosevelt, we
intend to do just that.

J. D. Longstreet


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