For the last little while
I’ve been thinking about the presidency and what is needed to restore it to constitutional norms.
Obviously, it’s the season for such reveries.
Part of what’s driving my thoughts is a lot of back and forth with friends online about requisite experience for president.
I’ve suspected for a while that some of the people from the governor-as-president school of thought are speaking from the corner they painted themselves into when they slammed Mr. Obama for having no executive experience. In effect, they gave him an out he doesn’t deserve. And they may be limiting our choices in an unhelpful direction.
But some, I’m sure, have favored governors as potential presidents for far longer than Obama has been on anybody’s radar.
Personally, I’ve held out for a Senator. At least until Scott Walker became better known to me.
But I’ve come to believe that all of us are taking the wrong approach. I think the times—in combination with a potential president’s temperament, gifts, and convictions—should play the biggest part.
As I look at the still-unfinished wreckage of this administration—the worst presidency in my lifetime (by the way,Truman was still president the day I was born)—a clarity is forming in my thinking.
I’m convinced we need to look at what needs to be done at this particular point in our history, imagine what kind of president it will take to do it—THEN evaluate our candidates with those necessary qualities and skills in mind.
So I went on a mini “rant” about it this morning on Twitter.
Here’s an edited/re-organized version:
- Longing for a REAL constitutional expert as POTUS. Can you imagine a four-year national tutorial on constitutional governance?
- Such a president, of course, would need to be steeped in an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Knowledgeable in history. Able to explain how and why our system came into existence.
- He or she would need to be a masterful teacher. Not just leveraging “teachable moments”—but teaching ahead of events.
- Always preparing, always laying a foundation of knowledge and insight into the structure and dynamics of American governance—the way the Founders envisioned it. The way succeeding generations improved it, or undermined it (usually without meaning to).
- Can you imagine a president who can convey the times the Founders lived in? What concerned them as they framed the Constitution? The arguments they had with each other? How their solutions were formed and ratified?
- Can you imagine a president who knows, on the basis of Separation of Powers (for instance), what is wrong with the EPA and why it is constantly failing?
- Or a president who knows (for another instance), on the basis of Federalism, what is wrong with the Department of Education and how to fix it?
- Can you imagine a president who can explain from both Separation of Powers and the First Amendment why the FCC needs radical reforming? And needs it now?
- Can you imagine a president who not only will reestablish appropriate executive powers—but also defend Congress from Executive overreach?
- We don’t need a manager-president.
- We need a leader who knows how the federal government was designed to work and has the will and ability to restore it to factory settings.
- In addition to a president with deep knowledge of the issues of Constitutional governance, we need this:
An effective leader knows who he is and where he is going, and by the example of his life and the power of his words, brings others with him.
Who comes to mind?