Be President

Have you got what it takes? by rlz
Have you got what it takes? by rlz

Wish that the last few Chief Executives had stayed indians? Think you’ve got what it takes to be LOTFW: Leader of the Free World? Hankerin’ to bop about in Air Force One? Let me — President of rickzworld — help you learn what it takes to be President.

The first step in making it to the Oval Office is in playing the odds. (No, I don’t mean racking up a big gambling debt with the Teamsters.) Start with your religious affiliation: you’ll probably want to be of some moderate Protestant Christian faith, since about 3/4ths of our nation’s leaders have come from the ranks of the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Unitarians.

Next, purely from a statistical Jimmy-the-Greek handicapping point of view, you might also choose to be white, since only Barack Obama has made it to the White House as a non-white; that’s just one out of 43 individuals in over 220 years of elections. Of course, the tides of history keep ebbing and flowing, and the odds for other races than whites keep improving. The safe bet would also be to be male, since 100% of our past and present Presidents have been and are male. On the other hand, Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have all contended in the race for top office just since 1984.

If you had a choice, you would certainly want to be very wealthy. Estimates are that about a dozen of our past Presidents would have been considered super-rich, or within the elite of the top 1% of our society. Perhaps more than half of all the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue were wealthy enough to rank in the top 3% of the nation. Very few — probably just Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson — were actually born into relative poverty. Remember: whatever money you don’t start out with, you’ll just have to raise at endless $500- and $1000-a-plate fundraisers. The 2008 Presidential race was estimated to have cost all major candidates a nice round total of $1 billion.

To go along with your great wealth, you should probably also seek great height. It has been a rough corollary of the national elections since 1900 (with only a few exceptions) that the taller person has been elected President. And forget the facial hair: only five of America’s leaders have had full beards, and only another four had moustaches. Since the 1948 election, every serious candidate has been cleanly shaved. But be sure to keep the hair on TOP your head; our TV-dominated age apparently favors the coiffed (or at least the coiffable). The last truly bald or balding President we’ve seen was Dwight D. Eisenhower, elected in 1956, and HE was a likable guy with a résumé that included decorated five-star Army General and supreme commander of NATO going for him!

Next, it helps to be mature. We tend to elect our Presidents from latter middle age; upon assuming office, they have ranged from just about 43 years old to almost 70 years old. (But, considering that many candidates must toil for years to reach their place on the national stage, you might want to start young. Richard Nixon first ran for Congressional office 23 years before he took the oath as President, and 29 years before he resigned.)

As a stepping-stone to the Presidency, you’d be best off working as a lawyer; we have had more lawyer-Presidents than from any other field. Next on the preferred occupations list would be soldier or sailor, sheriff or Navy Secretary. Former farmer, plantation owner and surveyor have all definitely gone out of vogue, while former minister, teacher and businessman still retain a bit of their past cachet. But hey, even a journalist, a rancher, an executioner, and the actor Ronald Reagan made it to the top post in the land.

Develop your Presidential slogan — and make it a good one! Barack Obama carried the election of 2008 with the sufficiently upbeat “Yes We Can!”. Eisenhower won in 1956 with the likable “I Like Ike”. Even Harry S. Truman managed the pleasant “I’m Just Wild About Harry!” But you should assiduously avoid such bizarre campaign chants as “Vote as You Shot” (Ulysses S. Grant, 1868). “This is a White Man’s Government” (Horatio Seymour, 1868), or “Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?” (James Blaine, 1884).

Though we have always been a multi-lingual nation, you should also perhaps have a fairly good handle on English — you know, enough to know what “is” is. (Although, on the other hand, I’m not sure W. ever knew what subject-verb-object is, and there were plenty who still listened to him anyway.)

Now that we’ve gotten this far, just about all you have left to do is to practice your theatrics: clenched fist with slightly upraised thumb, slightly bitten lip paired with a steady soft-focus gaze, reading from teleprompters with neither pregnant pauses nor racing delivery, not running into the furniture, no overt criminality.

And, done! I think you’re ready for your spotlight, Mr. President!

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