Obama: Presidential timber or twig?
THE ascendancy of Barack Obama as a possible presidential candidate reinforces my call that the country institute a No President Left Behind Act.
In the same way that President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act is supposed to ensure that the nation's youths are academically prepared to become successful adults, the No President Left Behind Act would assure that anyone who becomes president actually has the ability to run the most powerful country in the world. (To see my proposed test questions for the No President Left Behind Act final exam, view "Honolulu Lite," Sept. 10, 2006).
Currently, the only qualification needed to become president of the United States is to be elected. In these days of instant fame and name recognition, that's really a foolhardy way of putting someone in charge of 300 million people, the button to the bomb and keeping the hedges trimmed at Camp David. I mean, right now the application process to become a manager at Wal-Mart is more rigorous.
Now, as cool is it would be to have a president who was born in Hawaii like Obama, I have to single out the Illinois senator as someone who doesn't quite strike me as being up to the presidency. His qualifications, so far as I can tell, are that he's "cute," he got to hang out at the Playboy mansion and Oprah likes him. Based on those criteria, Jon Bon Jovi should be president.
I like Obama, and I like the fact that he's from Hawaii. But does he know who the president of Malawi is? (Hint: Ask Madonna). Has he ever been in charge of a business with more than 12 employees? Can he drive a tank? Can he spell the name of any former Soviet republic using only one vowel? Does he know how much President Taft weighed? Can he whip Hillary Clinton in no-rules cage fighting? (He might have to in the primaries.) There's a lot of stuff you need to know to be a great president.
Now, you might say, "Hey, Obama wouldn't have messed up the war in Iraq any worse than Bush has done." That's hardly a worthy threshold. Hell, I think I could have run the war in Iraq better than Bush. (My plan would have involved making Iraq the 51st state after the fall of Baghdad and then drafting everyone there into the military to fight for their new country.)
I've been watching Obama recently, and I think he's really digging all the attention, but doubt he'd want to put himself through the human sausage grinder we call elections. To win the Democratic primary, Obama would have to don a Che Guevera hat, admit that he smoked weed, recite the more obscure works by Allen Ginsberg and say he thinks Fidel Castro is a great environmentalist and George Bush the Antichrist.
Then when he got to the general election, he'd have to say he "never inhaled," only engaged in "light petting" at the Playboy mansion, once dreamed of heading up a Delta Force commando unit and believes that Oprah will make a great vice president. And he'd still lose because of that Taft thing.
Obama has done one surprising thing: He's made me feel a little sorry for Hillary Clinton. She's been fighting and clawing her way to the top of the Democratic Party, getting elected to the U.S. Senate from a state she never even lived in, putting up with Billy Boy's sexual shenanigans, campaigning for fellow Democrats all over the country so she'd have something to hold over their heads in '08, and then here comes this hunky pretty boy Obama with just two years in Congress and the vast political experience of a Rotary Club president, and he's suddenly sucking up all the political air in the country, not to mention magazine covers.
Whether you like Hillary or not, you've got to feel for her. You know she'd score higher than Obama in the No President Left Behind Act final exam, and he wouldn't stand a chance in a cage fight with her.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org