Mr. President? No, thanks.
If the people chose me to be the President of the United States of America, I’d scream frantically, wet my pants, and flee to another country. Actually, I’ve already done that, without the screaming or wetting, just to avoid being a resident, let alone president.
POTUS sounds like the worst job in the world. Get hired and immediately half the country hates you; people around the globe want to kill you; security guards with necks wider than your waist surround your family; everyone dissects your life 60/24/7/365, watching for any mistake or strange behavior. You’re chopped meat if you get caught with broccoli between your teeth, a booger hanging from your nostril, or your fly down.
I’ve lived through, gasp, 12 different presidents. From age 0 to 4, I don’t remember Harry Truman, since presidents didn’t say things I cared to hear like “goo goo da da frimp ga zoing” until George W. Bush took office.
In my pre-teen years in the ’50s, former five-star general, “I like Ike” Eisenhower inspired me to build model navy ships and blow them up with firecrackers in the bathtub.
Brimming with charisma, JFK came on the scene and tragically left too soon, leaving probing questions like, “Did he really have an affair with Marilyn Monroe?” With that titillating presidential possibility in mind, I dreamed of being POTUS. As North Dakota State Student Council president, I traveled to schools and gave a speech written by my ghost writer (Readers Digest magazine) called “24-hour Leadership,” which must have included something about leading in your sleep, a skill perfected by Ronald Reagan during his latter years in office.
When the Cold War heated up in the late ’60s, barren North Dakota became a center of mass destruction on the northern USA border. Hundreds of InterContinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM or “I Can Bomb Moscow”) were concealed in desolate underground silos and ready to launch. Why? If Russia vaporized North Dakota, no one would notice, or if they did, no one would give a shit. Fleets of B-52 bombers and fighter jets guarded us from imminent invasion by Canada and their Mounties, who might have ridden over the border to steal some of our wheat.
LBJ tackled civil rights, poverty, and disastrously, Vietnam. His Pinocchio nose was already formidable, but it continued to lengthen during his public downplay of the war, while he secretly revved it up. By the end of his term, he could wear his reading glasses, driving glasses, and sunglasses—all at the same time.
While in college at the radical hotbed of UW/Madison, visions of moving to Canada replaced my personal POTUS dreams. I disagreed with the Vietnam War, war in general, and the concept of visiting Southeast Asia to kill other teenagers like me. I only shot living things with my camera. Because of a congenital eye disorder requiring three operations and the wearing of glasses enabling me to distinguish living beings from inanimate objects, I was granted a deferment from the military. No one wanted a sightless pacifist wandering around foreign battlefields accidentally wasting his own comrades.
Enter Dick Nixon and the Age of Wiretapping, Watergate, and the War at Home. He wasn’t your everyday Tom, Dick, or Harry—merely a impeached dick who resigned before being fired. I lost all confidence in the presidency when bland Fall Guy, Jerry Ford pardoned him. Then Jerry fell down exiting Air Force One, solidifying his image as a terminal klutz. LBJ once commented, “He’s a nice fellow, but spent too much time playing football without a helmet.”
I met Ford’s son in my booth at an entertainment convention. As he perused my promo material, he lost his balance, collapsed my table, and sent my stuff flying onto the floor. I asked, “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, eh?”
Former peanut farmer Carter’s term challenged Jimmy and the country, but he was, and still is, a good man. Visiting his tiny hometown of Plains, Georgia, I had a close encounter with his cousin. On the town square sat the Carter General Store, overflowing with household supplies and hardware, souvenir key chains, and jars of “Plains Presidential Peanut Butter.” I carried a copy of Turning Point, “written and autographed by the author” to the check-out counter, and picked up a postcard next to the register of Jimmy shaking hands with his cousin, State Senator Hugh Carter. I looked from the card to the smile hovering above the cash register.
“Hugh!” I exclaimed.
“Yessir, Ah am,” he replied proudly in Southern speak.
“I’m confused.” I opened the book and pointed to the autograph. “Jimmy’s signature looks a little weird, like it’s blurry or something.”
“Whale,” Hugh drawled, which means “well” in English, “he came on by ’n’ signed ’em with a pencil, so ah wen’ over ’em with a pen.”
The Reagan/Bush Years dragged on forever. The Clinton Risqué Era faded into another endless Bush Whack. To take on Obama, the Republicans could only dredge up another rich, old, white guy for their candidate. As his VP running mate, John McCain chose Sarah Palin, winner of the Miss Wasilla Beauty Pageant in Alaska, who negated any positives he brought to the position. Despite her dismal failure during the vice-presidential debates, she did defeat Joe Biden in the swimsuit competition.
Every president gave it their best or worst shot, succeeding or failing at exactly the same time, depending on who you talk to at what time during their reign. In my opinion, President Obama succeeded marvelously. If we have a few more like him, maybe they’ll change the name of the official residence to the Black and White House.