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Why Would Anyone Want To Be President Of The United Sates Anyway?
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Damned If You Do and Damned If You Don't
While it seems as if there is always a presidential election going on, late last week the campaign season took a big step towards being officially underway as the first presidential exploratory committee was announced. (An exploratory committee is, in theory, an organization of political professionals whose job is to determine if their boss has a real shot of winning a presidential election. The information that they come up with helps the candidate decide whether or not to run.)
My Question is, Why does anyone want the job? It's not just a matter of telling the military what to do or presiding (president = he who presides) over the federal bureaucracy or trying to get programs through congress or appointing people to important jobs. It's also a matter of being heard over the non stop din of people shouting about how wrong you are about everything.
While I can give examples for almost any president I'll talk about Mr. Obama as he is currently in the job.
Before Hosni Mubarak stepped down in Egypt, the American press seemed to be filled with the voices of pundits and activists that were saying, all day, everyday, that the American people were on the side of the Egyptian people, that we sided with the protesters, that Obama should take steps to pressure Mubarak to step down, that it was about time that the government stopped supporting dictators and started supporting people, that Obama should do something, anything. Given his own statements, I'm sure Obama agreed. What I didn't hear a lot of was discussion of the fact that, The U.S. Government had agreements with Mubarak and what would happen if we broke those agreements? Most especially, what would other people that the U.S. Government has agreements with think if we broke agreements with Mubarak? Sure, some of those agreements are undoubtedly with other "bad guys", but, not all and... when someone that you have an agreement with starts breaking agreements with others... don't you feel a need to reevaluate your own agreements with that person? What sort of problems would that create for the U.S. I feel very confident that Obama, or any president in his position, was trying to do the maximum good for the Egyptian people quietly, subtly. He was trying to do the maximum good and do the least harm and mostly, since it was a very complex situation, he was trying to think about what he was doing before he did it.
Now, the United Nations has given permission to use "all means necessary" to protect the Libyan people. Almost immediately the president began military action to do so. Last week the media was filled with voices yelling: "Too little too late" (how much do you want to bet those people would have been screaming that he should have gotten U.N. approval if he had acted earlier?), He should have talked to congress first (Last I checked the "War Powers Act" hadn't been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and it gives the president a fixed amount of time before he has to talk to congress... I forget exactly, a month or two.), What is the mission and our exit strategy? (Looks to me from what he's already said, and by watching what is happening that it's the same as the opening campaign in Afghanistan. Destroy anti-aircraft capability from the air, then bomb any attempts by the Libyan military to do anything so that the rebels can take the country, with the U.S. doing the initial long distance strikes and then letting the Brits and French do the actual work while we provide intelligence from AWACS radar planes and refueling from our giant flying gas stations.) How can I know these things and all the screaming voices don't?
My favorite bit of noise last week was on ABC's Saturday news cast when they said that a Gallop poll showed that only 47% of the American people favored the attacks on Libya. That was it, no other information on the poll. Just an implication that a minority favors the attacks. What about the other numbers? Were the other 53% against the attack or were some of them undecided? If Undecided is more than 6% than the country is split. If more than 6% are undecided than the majority is for the attacks. Plus, what was the polls margin of error? Most polls that I see have a 3% or 4% margin of error. Which means.... it could be 44% for or 52% for. All this poll looks like, as far as I can tell with incomplete information is that the country is still breaking down politically exactly the same as it has for the last three presidential elections (that's nearly 12 years this country has been split down the middle). While it's true that the president could be more communicative it doesn't help when the pundits, politicians and media are all on disinformation campaigns.
Look, I'm not saying here that I'm for or against the strikes, or for or against Obama. it's pretty much a given that politics runs more on emotion than reason, that's human nature, but, we have to use our heads too. It makes better theater if, no matter who is president, we are always storming the castle with pitchforks and fire brands but we need to think... and we need our sources of information to be complete and thoughtful rather than just throwing fuel on the fire.
I don't know how a president can do his/her job is everyone is always pissed off. I don't know why someone would want to be president of a population that is always pissed off. I don't know what the final fate of a population that is always pissed off could be but I bet it's not good.
My thought is this: if someone is saying something to you that pisses you off, are you just responding to the fact that they are pissed off or are they trying to get you to be pissed off. If you are just responding, think about it.... seek out information, find out if you really need to be pissed off. If the other person is trying to make you pissed off.. beware... nobody tries to make someone else pissed off unless there is an advantage in it for them. What do they want from you? Do you want the same thing? Are they telling you the whole truth? Can you get that whole truth for yourself?
My two cents.