There used to be a popular radio show, followed by an equally popular TV show, called “The Amateur Hour.” Singers, comedians and musicians, including even accordion players, would seek fame and fortune by competing on the show. These days, that notion has morphed into any number of similar shows, the most successful of which is “American Idol.”
What led me to think about all this is the realization that by the time the next president is inaugurated, Barack Obama will have held office for 2,922 days. (Don’t forget to count leap years before writing to question my math.) Or in other words, we will have suffered through the equivalent of 70,128 amateur hours.
In his book “Presidential Power,” Richard Neustadt wisely wrote: “The Presidency is no place for amateurs. It requires politicians of extraordinary temperament. That sort of experience can hardly be acquired without deep experience in political office. The Presidency is a place for men of politics. But by no means is it a place for every politician.”
I happen to agree with his analysis, which is why I opposed Herman Cain’s candidacy in 2012 and oppose Dr. Ben Carson’s today. Both men seem to be intelligent and decent fellows, and while I consider both qualities essential in a Chief Executive, I don’t see how that qualifies them to sit in the Oval Office. Heck, I’m intelligent and decent, and have devoted far more time to politics than either of them, and even I wouldn’t vote for me. Well, not unless I was the only thing standing between Hillary Clinton and a return trip to the White House.
In the same way, I tend not to support senators or congressmen. Their jobs don’t provide them with executive experience. What it does provide them with is a megaphone, so they are able to capture people’s attention.
For instance, I very much like Paul Ryan, but except for his expertise when it comes to budgetary matters and a very pleasant personality, I have no idea how he would govern. I am also taken with Trey Gowdy, and the way he cuts through the crapola when questioning the smarmy likes of IRS chief John Koskinen. But I can’t help feeling that the country might be better served if they either stayed where they are or were promoted to Cabinet positions as Secretary of the Treasury and Attorney General, respectively.
Speaking of the IRS, I always thought I had a great way to lessen the annual pain of writing a check to the Treasury. It would take advantage of people’s addiction to lotteries. Don’t you think that people would be somewhat more anxious to pay what they owe if the IRS instituted a lottery that would pay out a first prize of, say, a hundred times the amount you paid in? I would also have runner-up prizes that would return 75-1, 50-1, 25-1, 10-1 to a handful of lucky taxpayers, and perhaps a thousand additional payouts to those whose prize would be the return of their checks torn into several pieces.