Happy New Year. I recently joined an obscure Catholic sect which prohibits its adherents from even so much as thinking about wordly affairs from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
through the Feast of the Epiphany
, with a one day buffer on each end. That requirement having been fulfilled to the letter, I may now resume blogging. I think I'm going to apply for an indult
so I can keep blogging during the sacred Martin Luther King / President's Day interval.
Anyway I thought I'd start out slow, and reflect on what kind of president I would like to see elected. Simply put, my ideal president would be an unalloyed patriot - that is, one who is only interested in what's good for America. Of course people can honestly disagree on what's good for America, but I would be comfortable knowing that that was the president's only concern.
And I'm talking about America the country - not the idea of America, not what someone would like America to be, but the country we actually have. And I don't mean "American ideals" - yes, he should be dedicated to the Constitution, but not to any supposed lofty American idealism that transcends borders and all that crap. The Constitution has quite enough in it to keep any president occupied defending it - limited government, enumerated powers, individual rights, all that good stuff.
What sorts of priorities do presidents have besides the well-being of their country? Well let's look at Exhibit A, George W. Bush. It seems to me that what's best for America is a line of thinking that never even crosses the man's mind. His utmost concern is always his record of accomplishment.
The tax cuts he pushed through in his first year may or may not have been good for the country, but to W. it was a feather in his cap pure and simple. When Reagan pushed his own tax cut through his first year (with a hostile Congress), I have no doubt that he did so feeling it was necessary to awaken the country from its malaise. The tax code was then further re-jiggered at least two more times, with one major overhaul, with his blessing, to straighten out some problems in the previous rate changes. George Bush, on the other hand, simply will not entertain any change to His Tax Cut.
No Child Left Behind and the Iraq War are much more obvious examples of a president more concerned with burnishing his record than helping the nation. Indeed, Iraq was to be his crowning achievement (alas, it was not meant to be). As for Clinton, he seemed equally obsessed with his legacy. There is no line of thinking that could justify bombing Kosovo or invading Haiti as being good for America, though on the whole he took much less dramatic courses of action than Bush, and so his decisions were much less costly.
The current crop of candidates doesn't off much hope in this regard. Giuliani is mostly concerned with winning fights and not being shown up. That was an asset in NYC where the place is overrun with petty politicos minding their own turf, and he could tell them to f-off. Not likely to be a very helpful approach in Washington. Romney likes to take charge of things and run them - it's his obsession, and I fear he has a Bush-like need to have accomplishments to brag about, whatever they may be. With Huckabee, the calling of his evangelical faith will often intersect with America's interests, but when they don't I can bet which way he'll go. As for McCain, he's all about being the hero - saying No to soft money, staring down the yahoos (i.e., Americans) concerned about a non-stop Central-American invasion, standing up to the populists (i.e., Americans) aghast at the erosion of American industry under free-trade. But who knows, perhaps if McCain were to actually become president and finally saw what the mainstream press really thinks of him, he'd say screw 'em all and join us yahoos.
Hillary? Edwards? Please. Obama talks a good game, but he's really not. Don't you get the feeling when he speaks that America is a fill-in-the-blank country? He could be giving the same speech anywhere, running for president of any country - France, Indonesia, Kenya. Wanting to 'bring us together' - the 'audacity of hope' - we don't need to be brought together, and we don't need 'hope'. No, we just need a president who will stop doing stupid things, like sinking $200 billion a year into pointless wars, importing a permanent peasant underclass, off-shoring our industrial base, and turning our schools into eternally doomed social experiments. Sure, Obama will get us out of Iraq at some point, but are you sure he won't just send them on over to East Africa to stop the 'genocide'?