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Being president isn’t a job I would want, but no one made them take it.

standard January 22, 2009 6 responses
I never know what I’m going to get when I open my BlogNosh email. Could be about parenting, travel, life, food… anything. I just know it’s pretty much guaranteed to be well written and pertinent. I love BlogNosh; it helps me discover great new bloggers.

That said, today the topic of the featured blog post caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting to read such a glowing tribute to former President Bush’s career. I’m not going to go into details (you can go read it for yourself). I’m not going to bash what was clearly a heartfelt post. I said it in the comments, that’s no longer a fight I want to fight.

But Janel said something in the comments that made me think. She said: “I would never want to walk a day in any president’s shoes. I doubt very many would.” She’s right. It’s a terrible job. A terrible burden. You spend every waking moment in the public eye. Your every decision and thought is scrutinized and analyzed ad nauseum. There’s never any winning because someone, somewhere is always going to think you’re wrong and horrible. There’s never any reprieve because the country doesn’t stop running when you need a break. And the lives of countless human beings rest in your hands. To top it off you never have a moment of privacy and as our new president laments, you can never even drive your own car.

It’s not a job I would want. I can barely manage my own life, let alone the governing of my family. I couldn’t handle being responsible for any one else. I wouldn’t be able to tolerate to constant critique, the eternal eyes over my shoulder. And I frankly wouldn’t wish it on my own worst enemy.

But people who go into politics know that those are the rules. They’re not dumb. So should we feel pity for them because of this burden? Didn’t they call it upon themselves? And when they’re done with their term, should we assume that saying it’s a hard job can absolve them of their mistakes, of their failings?

Yes, they’re human, yes they’re fallible, but we don’t go around electing Joe the Plumber or Tim the Chef, we hire politicians who are trained for the task at hand. They have legions of people and all the necessary resources to do their job right. And yes, we do and should hold them to a higher standard. Because they wanted it and they can handle it. And also because, maybe, just maybe, if we hold them to those high standards and keep from making excuses for them, then they’ll rise to the challenge and be the leaders we expect them to be.

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6 responses

  • I have to agree.

    You wouldn’t forgive the mechanic who screwed up the repair or the doctor who left a sponge in you after surgery just because they retire or change jobs.

  • I’m excited that something we published on Blog Nosh spurred a strong enough reaction out of you that you would write about it.

    That’s exactly what we want.

    You absolutely do not need to agree with anything we publish at Blog Nosh. Did you notice that the Channel Editor that published it didn’t necessarily agree? No, she just felt it was worth discussing and so brought it to the table.

    That’s their job. And sometimes it can be a tough job because readers might think we represent or agree with what we publish.

    Nope.

    We do it for precisely the reason you see here: To spark discussion.

    Thank you for taking the time to think about it and not just slap a label on the post, the blogger, the editor, or the magazine. We are all so much more than an isolated, compartmentalized community.

  • I think you’re right. I had such mixed feelings the day of the inauguration. I actually felt sorry for former President Bush because people booed him. And then I realized that the fact that I had pity for him did not change the reality that he was a horrible president who led our country (and the world) in to crisis on many levels.

  • On the policies they make and the work that they do — yes, they absolutely should be held to a higher standard. It’s their job. A job they chose to do.

    But there is a level of celebrity that goes along with being a politician these days that I feel is wrong. And a little sickening. I think that was very true this year with Oprah’s and what looked like all of Hollywood’s endorsement. I even watched one magazine editor talk about how much the paparazzi is after the Obama family to capture a moment when they don’t have it all together. That’s wrong.

    I don’t want to be President. Not because I don’t think I can’t handle the job – personally, I think it’s disheartening that so many Americans think only seasoned, veteraned politicians are worthy of that role. I don’t want to be President for a million other reasons. One of them being under intense and sometimes unwarranted media scrutiny.

  • I know so many people will probably disagree with me, but I thought she did an admirable thing for the same reason that Mr. Lady picked the post. You have to love living in a country where we can voice our opinions and have an open discussion about our differences in a civilized way (most of the time). I respect anyone who stands up for their beliefs as long as they aren’t too radical. That’s what America is all about. Kudos to Blog Nosh.

  • You touch on some interesting points, some of which I agree with–and some not so much.

    Notice that we say “being the President” not acting, not doing the job, but being the President. In taking office, one becomes President. One does not just take on the tasks and go home at the end of the day: a transformation takes place.

    I am reminded of several scenes from the TV show West Wing and the movie American President. In American President, the point is made during his time in office, the man is always the President– he is never “just a man” and, thus, has no private life.

    In West Wing, (fictional) President Bartlett in one scene tells his priest of many years that he prefers to be refer to as Mr. President, not out of ego but because it helps to separate his ego from the office. In another scene, he explains why he hired Debbie Friterer (sp?) despite having written a letter excoriating his lack of action on a particular issue: in spite of her warmth of feeling against what he did or did not do, she refered to him as “President Bartlett”–not just “Bartlett” or some snarky nickname. It showed respect for the office.

    Over the years, We (the people) have had men in office with whom we’ve disagreed politically; men whose personal behaviour have ranged from ethically corrupt to morally bankrupt. In the process of losing respect for the man in office, we seem to have lost respect for the office.

    And along the way, we sometimes lose sight of what is important in keeping an eye on the man in office. We don’t need to second guess and speculate over every little detail of the man’s life. How he does his job matters. What he does on the job matters. What he ate for breakfast and whether or not he likes broccoli or hot dogs doesn’t.

    Nor does the job being tough absolve the man from making mistakes out of arrogance or wrongful mindset.

    It’s hard to balance our freedom of speech rights with good manners and common sense. Just because we have an opinion, should we necessarily express it? Or, if we do choose to express it, are we entitled to be rude about how we express it?

    Can we learn to express our disagreement and disappointment, our frustration and our anger, with the man in office while still maintaining and showing respect for the office?

    Do we show ourselves clever in the cutting remarks–and in the process lose communicating our point?

    These are questions that have come to my mind over the past year as the commentary over the election campaigns ramped up and during this transition.

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