Watching the elite bashing during this year's presidential campaign
reminds me of Carl and Allie. They were two of my lobstermen friends from my
childhood summers in Maine. Every June when I returned to the village, Carl
and Allie said, "Another year of school, you sure got stupider." I knew
they were kidding (sort of).
Carl, Allie, and I always had a good-natured laugh over a beer, but there
is nothing funny about the way education and intelligence are being
disparaged in American politics today. I know, I know: anti-intellectualism
has a long history in the US. And, like many Americans, I also find many of
the media elites to be intolerable, condescending know-it-alls who seem to
have no shame even when they're consistently wrong (remember Hilary's
I understand all of that, but for the life of me, I don't get it when
people say they want someone just like them to be president.
The mayor of Scranton recently said about Obama: "They don't know him.
Who'd you want to have a beer with? Who'd you leave your kids with?" Huh?
I'm not looking for a beer buddy or a baby sitter. I'm looking for a
president who knows a lot more than I do about how to get out of the mess
Shades of 2000, when George Bush's handlers did such a masterful job of
juxtaposing "good ole boy W" against that "egghead stiff Al Gore." And then
there's Sarah Palin, poster star for "everywoman" -- five kids, hunky
husband, moosehunter, and now possibly a heartbeat away, even though her
biggest selling point seems to be that she is NOT qualified to be president
("Take that, elites").
Call me out of step, but I want a president who's better than me... who's
smarter, wiser, more experienced, with better judgment. Someone who wants to
work 24-7 and is ready and willing to answer that scary red phone at 3am
(which I imagine would be hard to do if you've been drinking beer all
Of course, I want a president who's empathetic about the challenges facing
working families and the under-privileged. But what good is empathy if the
president doesn't also have the expertise to help them?
I want a president who can energize people with his or her ideas... who can
help us see around the next bend, over the next hill and through the fog... who
knows how to hire good people and keep them focused on what matters most.
I want someone who's willing to wrestle with issues that seem to have no
easy solution -- balancing our traditional openness with the obvious need to
guard against terrorists; spending enough to jumpstart the economy without
adding too much to our national debt ($10 trillion and counting); convincing
Americans to pay more for gas now so we can start weaning ourselves from the
oil dictators of the Middle East and Russia; figuring out how to pay for the
boomer generation's retirements without bankrupting our kids and their kids;
and on and on.
It's called leadership.
I have lots of friends I like to hang out and drink beer with. But no
offense, I sure don't want them to be president.
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