Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Demands of the Presidency

The American public and media are right to be focusing on the current economic crisis and the resulting debate but unfortunately, the rest of our challenges cannot be put on hold.

Nor, unfortunately, can new ones be stalled from emerging.

Today, American and Pakistani troops exchanged fire along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Earlier this week, North Korea threatened to restart it's nuclear weapons program.

And two days ago, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added to his provocative rhetorical track record while speaking at the United Nations.


Tomorrow night, John McCain and Barack Obama are scheduled to hold a debate on foreign policy.

These two men have an opportunity to speak to tens of millions of Americans tomorrow night and we need them to do so.

John McCain has suspended his campaign under the pretense that his full and complete attention is needed to resolve this crisis. He is suggesting that the debate should be postponed and perhaps even take the place of the only debate in which Sarah Palin and Joe Biden are slated to speak.

First of all, let me say (with an honest attempt to limit my condescension) that the idea that John McCain is needed or is even capable of being an indispensable player in the current bailout negotiations is borderline hilarious given that he thought the economy was "fundamentally strong" less than two weeks ago. And in an attempt to be somewhat fair and frank, Barack Obama's presence at these negotiations is not necessary to save the Union either.

In fact, these two Senators will almost certainly do more harm than good if they crash the debate at this point because it is completely impossible to separate either of these men from the raw politics that have inevitably consumed their campaigns. And as both have said, partisanship is the last thing this crisis needs right now.


As for John McCain asserting that his campaign and its discussion of other issues should be suspended until the crisis is resolved....

In the spirit of full disclosure - again - I'll admit that I support Barack Obama in this election. Perhaps I have therefore lost my objectivity, but I feel compelled to say - almost scream - that I find John McCain's campaign suspension nothing less than absurd.

Here's my thinking on the matter:

I pray that our next President that can walk right out of negotiations on a crucial economic bill at 7pm and tell me at 8pm exactly what he thinks we should do to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

At 8:15, if necessary, I want him to explain to me why Americans are being shot at by troops from a supposed "ally" in the war on terror and what we should do about it.

After that, he can take a breath.

But THEN, at 8:30 he should be able to discuss what our options are if North Korea decides to break their word and build more nukes.

At 9pm, if necessary, he can go back to fixing the economy over a late dinner.

Notice that I didn't even ask him to discuss Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nuclear weapons proliferation or border security. He can put those off until tomorrow because I recognize that even the President of the United States is a mere mortal.

But I DEMAND that he be a truly exceptional one.

This debate should go on. We need it. We deserve it. And the candidates for POTUS should be capable participating in it without harming their "contribution" to the resolution of the economic crisis.


Thanks for reading this rant. I had to get it off my chest.

1 comment:

James F Barry said...

I don't read it as a rant, I read it as an astute observation. The only thing I disagree with your post about, is that I think, on some days, your hypothetical day is _over-simplified_.

I believe the job of POTUS can be exponentially more emotionally complex than the one you just put forth.

Add to you day, phone calls to the families of fallen soldiers, briefings about rather mundane topics, a photo-op, all while juggling nothing less than the fate of the US and/or the world.

I want a President that embraces the complexity, not simplifies things so he or she can wrap his head around one thing at a time.