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Posts Tagged ‘high-deductible health care’

A recent Peggy Noonan column, Road to the Nut House, gets into some of the unpleasant realities of running for the position of President of the United States.  In short: “You have to be crazy to run for president. Seriously, you do.”  Based on a recent book Game Change, she continues: “almost all of the 2008 candidates appear to be truly barking mad.”  The truth hurts.

One of the tenets of many high school civics classes is that anyone can become President.  This alone may serve to explain the varied personalities of those individuals who have held this high office.  Fortunately, the process of running for President has a way of weeding out a lot of those who should continue in their current line of work rather than taking up residence is a very exclusive piece of government housing, The White House.

Of course, with the proper advertising and public relations campaign, more than a few individuals have managed to sneak in.  And once ensconced, they have tried to work their way with the American People, with varying degrees of success.  It has been noted that you can’t really judge how successful a President is until you have the benefit of historical perspective.  Consider Harry Truman, who more than a few considered to be a dud at the time.  Likewise, historical perspective has a way of clearing away the facade of a carefully cultivated public relations program.  That is, every Presidency experiences events which shape it, forces beyond the ubiquitous presence of the White House staff of that administration.  And, that job offers very few places to hide, which is what makes Camp David so special.

The process of getting elected itself is only part of the issue.  They run a good campaign, lots of cheering crowds, a tight election night and then there they are, standing in front of the Capitol with one hand raised and the other on a Bible.  They run madly from one inauguration ball to another, dancing and thanking.  The new President gets home late, takes off their tie and hits the sack.  The most prominent leader in the Free World.  The next morning, they wake up and their job is no longer running for office but leading.  And the skill sets are very different.

You can see them age right in front of your eyes.  The outgoing President meets with the incoming President.  They are shown the location of the executive restroom and the outgoing officer hits the road for golfing and goofing.  You can’t really take a new job at a major corporation.  And, it’s safe to say, you can’t go to Reno without being spotted.

Years ago, probably around 1980, I had the questionable pleasure of attending a convention of fringe political candidates.  That’s the way that it was billed and that’s the way that it was.  The room was filled with more nuts than a Claxton fruit cake.  Myself included. It was an interesting experience, hearing the rantings of people who felt that they should be in charge of the most powerful democracy on earth.

In the intervening years, things have not improved, but it becomes more obvious that anyone who becomes President of the United States also becomes a captive.  There’s no place to run, no place to hide.  The scrutiny is withering.  Any thing that you do will be both praised and slammed.  You can’t even declare national Peach Week without somebody getting their shorts into a twist.  In office, you can be held captive by some of the most unanticipated things; consider that Jimmy Carter’s presidency was largely driven by the Iranian government.  When you were running for office, the candidates reflected their political orientation.  Once in office, the elected individual now must be the President of all the people.

Which brings us to the current occupant of the office at 1600 Pennsylvania.  After running a terrific election campaign, one which promised all things to all people in the vaguest of terms, the current president seems to be having a difficult time with the “President of all the people” stuff.  Consider that his recent “victory” with health care reform passed with the thinnest of margins and only after political maneuvering that rivaled a Jamaican limbo dance.  How low can you go?

Enter Shelby Steel, who writes with some authority on the subject, with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Barack the Good“.  In part:

Well, suppose you were the first black president of the United States and, therefore, also the first black head-of-state in the entire history of Western Civilization. You represent a human first, something entirely new under the sun. There aren’t even any myths that speak directly to your circumstance, no allegorical tales of ancient black kings who ruled over white kingdoms.

And:

Standing on ground that no man has stood on before, wouldn’t it be understandable if you felt pressured by the grandiosity of your circumstance?

And:

The great political advantage of modern liberalism is its offer of license on the one hand and moral innocence—if not superiority—on the other. Liberalism lets you force people to buy health insurance and feel morally superior as you do it. Power and innocence at the same time.

In other words, because of the current president’s circumstances, much of his presidency will be driven by the fact that he can never be “President of all the people”, even if he tried, which he hasn’t.  If anything, the community organizer aspect of his background seems to largely trump his ability to tell people what they want to hear during elections.  It also brings focus on the difference between equal opportunity and equal ability.  History will tell.

Be that as it may, the current president’s peculiar situation also means that doing something as modest as trying to create jobs is not congruent with the vision that has been placed upon him and aggressively cultivated by the president’s advisers.  The guy can’t even go out and suck down a couple beers with anyone without the event taking on the import of nuclear arms negotiations.  In short, because the current president is “special” we face a long run of “historic events” rather than a mundane four years.

Likewise, things don’t bode too well for certain people.  I seem to be falling into that category, no matter how hard I try to avoid it.  My high-deductible health care plan and its related HSA is slowly going to be taken away from me.  So much for being responsible for my personal health care.  After over forty years of forcibly being made to give money to the government for “social security”, I am now being called a socialist for wanting to claim some of that money back.  If I choose to oppose the current administration’s policies, some will call me a terrorist and militia member; hey, I couldn’t even cut it in the Cub Scouts, much less be a member of any stinking militia.

I took one of those “quizzes” on Facebook to determine which President I am similar to.  No sense talking about the results, but suffice it to say, I’m staying away from the theater.  At this point, I’m ready for some mediocre.  I’m ready for some boring.  I’m ready to hear news from some place other than Washington or Hollywood.  I’m ready for Millard Fillmore or Calvin Coolidge.  I can dream, can’t I?  Or is that illegal, too?

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