Friday, August 10, 2007

Growing Up

I’ll match my credentials as a blowhard against anyone’s. I’ve got it all worked out, and for all that I say I’d be convinced by contrarily evidence, it would have to be heap big medicine for me to buy it. That’s the problem with us ideologues. We can twist just about anything to fit into our great scheme of things. So, yeah, I don’t want an abortionist in the Presidential Palace. I don’t want a big spender -- although that’s all of them. I don’t want a draft-dodging coward (that’s a slam at clinton). I don't want the president of Mexico. I don’t want an appeaser.

But what is the job of a President? What is it that he’s hired to do? While being head cheerleader is certainly important -- cf TR and Reagan -- the main job of the Executive in Chief is to be an executive. That means to get things done, competently. Wishing don’t make it so. Speeches accomplish nothing in themselves. Having all the right ideas and mouthing them prettily might make the true believers all tingly, but it doesn’t fill potholes. Government is not a form of teledrama. It’s not an entertainment. It isn’t about bread and circus. It has one primary job: to promote the General Welfare.

Loyalty to a party or to an idea is nice, theoretically. But parties tend to be run by hacks. Ideas can exist independent of reality. Regardless of all the speechifying, all the dramatic pauses and windswept hairdos, we aren’t supposed to be lead by movie actors. Oh. Well, you know what I mean. It’s about reality, not theory.

A president doesn’t make laws. He can veto them. So yes, his philosophy is important. A president doesn’t interpret or apply laws. He appoints judges to do that. So yes, his philosophy is important. A president, as the Chief Executive, has the job of executing the laws. He has the vast instrumentality of the federal government at his disposal, and it is his job to see that it works efficiently. That’s it. All this talk about a Cabinet? They are the heads of the various branches of the federal government. They report to him on how things are running. They implement his orders. They give advice that he is free to ignore. He is the boss. That’s it. That’s it.

The president cannot stop every collapsing bridge or every coalmine cave-in. He has little to do with hurricanes. But there is a Department of Transportation, and for all that bridges may be maintained by states, that department has a greater job than just handing out money. Incompetent states should be shamed and pressured into acting competently. No amount of regulations will alter the precarious nature of reality. But if regulations have been signed into law, they should be enforced, and their breech should be punished either administratively or criminally. Acts of God are beyond our power. But cleaning up after God and his tantrums is the job of various state and federal agencies. If there is waste and incompetence in these agencies, then the relevant executives must be held responsible. There must be consequences. There must be punishment. Not because we are little children, but because we are human beings, and many of us will do the least that is required, rather than the best that we can, and everything that is necessary.

So. The president. There is an election coming up. For whom shall we vote? Hillary? The only thing she has run was the catastrophic effort to nationalize health care in the United States. Oh, and her senatorial staff. That’s not a lot of executive experience, and she didn’t do it well. Obama? He was a civil rights attorney. He ran some cases. Then he was a back bencher in a state assembly. Now he is a legislator again, at the federal level. What has he ever run? Campaigns. Campaigns are about talking. Not really a recommendation. Fred Thompson? Good talker. Says the right things from my point of view. Another lawyer. A lobbyist. An actor. A talker.

Romney? Well. A governor. That’s an executive. Seems to have done a good job. That’s promising. Giuliani? Mayor of New York. Did an absolutely stellar job. He will live in history as the best mayor that city ever had. But it’s only a city -- for all that it’s the largest in America, and for all that it was famously corrupt and filthy and vile when he took office, and was efficient and clean and safe when he left.

Get it? Let’s be rational. Giuliani is a crappy father and a poor husband and a mercurial personality. But then again, clinton got elected, so that can’t be an impediment. And whereas governor clinton was nothing special as a governor, Giuliani is a genius as an executive. Is he an abortionist? Is he for gay rights? Is he for some form of gun control? Presidents don’t make law. They appoint judges. He has said that he will appoint strict constructionists. That answers just about all of our right-wing concerns. He says he is a federalist. Abortion and gay rights and gun control are state issues. That answers just about all of our right-wing concerns.

Who should we vote for? How about this. Let’s not elect President Daddy. Let’s not elect President Preacher. Let’s vote for someone who knows how to get things done -- who will crack heads to accomplish goals. For once, let’s do that. Forget about personalities and all of this high school popularity stupidity. Let’s be rational. It might be a pleasant surprise. Competence has much to recommend it.


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