For the past 8 days, and in particular the immediate 48 hours that have just concluded, we were reminded, through the pomp and circumstance and the out-pouring of attention to a man who held office for a mere 895 days and was never popularly elected to that position, that the President of the United States is to be revered, remembered and idealized. From this nation’s founding, resultant of the tyrannical machinations of an abusive king, the office of the President has been filled by some of the brightest minds of their generation; by men who could recite Plato, Shakespeare and Locke ad naseum; by some who did not seek such lofty positions.
Although President Gerald R. Ford will not be remembered by many as one of the top tier presidents, it can hardly be contended that the office did not elevate a common man to do extraordinary things. This is the peculiarity and the awe of the office of the President. It seems that more and more we lose sight of the fact that the presidency is a reverent position. The worst is that the people who seek the office have lost sight of that as well. We have sunk to the bottom; to appeasing the lowest common denominator in a glorified high school prom popularity contest. In lieu of debating the real issues of our time, we couch positions into 15 second sound bites that are politically savvy. We delight at attack ads. We spend 2 plus years electioneering instead of governing. We draw on divisive issues.
Currently we have a President who delights in nothing more than talking in slang and devising ways to divide the country along partisan lines. He is stubborn and deliberate. Although these comments seem to denigrate the office of the President, I submit that because of this particular President, there is no choice. The corruption and power-grabbing is almost beyond repair. The poison of partisanship is almost equal to that poison which gripped Washington upon President Ford assuming the office. It is extremely telling that a man such as President Ford, who was by nature and his dealings an independent thinker, made comments to several reporters to be published posthumously that this President has gotten it all wrong. It was another of the extraordinary acts of a common man; the myth of a President.
It is disappointing that the office of the presidency has sunk so low. The answer could come in 2008. We could use a dose of President Lincoln’s resolve, President Roosevelt’s optimism, and President Ford’s healing in the 44th President of the United States. It is this commentator’s hope that some of the myth is restored in the office and we as the electorate challenge our leaders to be the best and the brightest of our generation.