08 July 2007

A New House Guest; Who Should We Invite?

by Paul Hollrah

Time Magazine writer, Joe Klein, the “anonymous” author of Primary Colors, has suggested that selecting a president is much like inviting a house guest into our home for an extended stay. In other words, which of the current crop of candidates would we most like, or least like, to have as a house guest for four years… or maybe even eight years? It’s an interesting question.

In his acting career Ronald Reagan appeared in more than 130 feature films and television programs, and when he ran for Governor of California in 1966 the people felt they already knew him… and trusted him. That trust and those feelings of good will followed him through all of his years in Sacramento and through all of his years in the White House.

His successor, George H.W. Bush, was said to be a very nice man. Writer Gail Sheehy explored Bush’s “niceness” in an October 1986 Vanity Fair article titled, “Is George Bush Too Nice to be President?” While interviewing some forty of his closest friends, aides, and family members she asked each of them, “Exactly what is it that George Bush feels passionately about?”

Nearly everyone she questioned, including his wife, Barbara, was stuck for an answer. Most responded with lame generalizations such as, “peace,” “justice,” and “fairness.” Bush’s lack of passion was evident and after just four years in office the people invited him to leave.

Bush was succeeded by Bill Clinton. However, it didn’t take long for people to realize that they had invited a real “low-life” into their house, so they impeached him and his colleagues took away his license to follow his chosen profession. But Clinton had one major advantage: he was the voyeur’s favorite president.

As teenagers, my friends and I occasionally roamed the streets of downtown St. Louis, drawn by the numerous strip joints that flourished on the seedier side of the downtown area. But since we weren’t allowed inside we stood on the sidewalks, our noses pressed against grimy windows, watching the strippers do their thing. Watching the Clinton presidency was a lot like that.

Clinton was followed into the White House by George W. Bush, probably someone we’d all like to have as a friend or a golfing buddy, but not the kind of man we’d look for when the times demand strong and assertive leadership. Like his father, Bush seemed driven to hold high public office, even though, like his father, he was far from being an inspirational leader. The people tired of him after one term, but the Democrats tried to replace him with a traitorous ex-Navy officer and he won a second term… setting himself up as the house guest who is scheduled to leave, but not soon enough to satisfy his host and hostess.

But now it’s time to invite someone else into our house. Who will it be? On the Republican side, it appears that we will choose between Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Senator Fred Thompson.

Giuliani is a likeable guy and a strong and decisive leader. But, like most New Yorkers, he thinks and speaks about twice as fast as most of us are capable of listening. After four years of Giuliani, most people would be physically and emotionally exhausted.

Of the two, Thompson seems to be the guy we’d most like to have as a long term house guest. He’s everybody’s favorite uncle. He has real gravitas, he has a wonderful sense of humor, and he gives the impression that, no matter what the circumstance, we could always trust him to do the right thing.

On the Democrat side, the race appears to be between Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barrack Hussein Obama, and former Senator John Edwards.

Most divorced men will understand when I say that, having Hillary Clinton as a long term house guest would be very much like having a vindictive ex-wife show up at the front door, asking if she could move in and stay for a while. Not!

Former Senator John Edwards? Is it possible to imagine having a super-slick trial lawyer living with us every day for four years? Imagine making his breakfast coffee every day… worrying all the while that he might spill it into his lap, scald his private parts, and sue us for negligence. And how could we be sure he wouldn’t steal our silverware? After four years of that we’d all be nervous wrecks.

And Barrack Obama? Of the three, he’d probably be the easiest on our nerves over a long period of time, but as young and inexperienced as he is would he be any more competent as leader of the free world than, say, Paris Hilton? On the positive side, he’d probably make an excellent playmate for our children and grandchildren.

All things considered, it looks like we’d best invite Uncle Fred to stay for a while.

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