Carpetbagger of two parties and captor of one, the current president is the embodiment of two myths that both need to be pushed out of our politics, pronto:
- The Republican mythology is that of the CEO-as-president. This was always ridiculous; the job stretches and often breaks even very successful politicians, and it’s categorically different from leading even the biggest business.
- Somewhat harder to see, because it’s baked even more deeply into our culture, is the broad appeal of the celebrity president or vice-versa — especially among Democrats of all stripes. Whichever direction you run this formula — Oprah for president or Obama for sainthood — it’s deeply undemocratic.
Now that the New York Times has shown the world in detail what it already knew — namely, that Donald Trump executive “experience” is largely his celebrity, and he’s not even so good at that — it’s time to break up with both myths. And we’ve all had more than enough exposure to his odious personality.
The TV presidency has coincided with the nuclear presidency. Boring competence might not make for great TV, but it seems that’s exactly the quality you’d want in the person in possession of the nuclear launch codes. Of course, decency helps, too.
If you want an effective president — especially one who might (gasp!) tax and regulate corporations and wealthy citizens — you’d probably better not look for him or her among the ranks of CEOs.
And if you want a president who can lead us toward a democracy we can be proud of, it’s unlikely you’ll find that person on TV. And, it should go without saying, a crown is perhaps not the right symbol for this person’s righteousness.
PS: If you’re less than enthralled with Joe Biden and desire real change, the very best thing you can do is to work for a sweep of Congress and the White House. Without the Senate, don’t expect much of the presidency [see 2010–16], especially over the long haul. And the benefits of divided government, though real, cease to be relevant when one party isn’t at all interested in governing.