In My Opinion                                  Caroline Porter

 

 

Our continued quest for presidential mediocrity.

 

Eight years ago, one of the most qualified men to ever run for president, Al Gore, was taunted and criticized for being “elite,” pompous, stiff, not an “everyday guy.” The question was asked by television talking heads, many elitists themselves, “Who would you rather have a beer with? Al Gore or George Bush?” As if that was an important qualification for being president of the country that is supposedly the “leader of the free world.” What we’ve proven, of course, is that a good, ole’ average guy like President George W. Bush, who might have been a good college fraternity president, has not the stuff needed to be president of the United States.

       Frankly, after eight years of leadership by “an average guy,” we are no longer leader of the free world. We have lost our way and our clout and while trying to bring democracy into the Middle East, we’ve practically lost it here in America.

       Now the political pundits are directing our thoughts to the same stupid question, “Who is the most average person running for president? Can anyone who is well educated and rich make a connection to the working person?” Democratic Primary candidate for president, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, is accused of appealing to the latte and wine-drinking crowd, as if that is a bad thing. Theresa Kerry, the wife of former presidential candidate John Kerry, was vilified because she was a wealthy heiress who was outspoken. I thought she was terrific. She obviously didn’t just inherit money, but a far more important characteristic - intelligence. Who cares if Obama can bowl? Who cares what he or his followers drink? The president in modern history who accomplished the most for average and poor working families was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who emerged from a rich, elite and well educated family. The Rockefeller and Kennedy families have provided many good men and women in public service who have extreme empathy for the average and disadvantaged among us and have contributed leadership and money to charitable causes.

The fact is that ordinary people don’t reach the level of running for president of the United States, or at least they shouldn’t. We should want those who achieve that plateau of success to be extraordinary, and among other traits, have the ability to influence Congress in a positive and productive way and provide enlightened world leadership.

No, we ought not to be looking for the average person for this job. Forget nominating and electing a president in our own image. We aren’t qualified.

 

Caroline Porter is a freelance writer from Galesburg and can be reached at caroline.porter@insightbb.com.

 

04/24/08