My son asked me an interesting question the other day: if you could appoint anyone you wanted as President, who would it be?
My son said he'd like to see Clint Eastwood as President. I have to agree with this choice. Eastwood may have been a wooden actor, but he has turned out to be one of our great directors. No one could have directed Unforgiven and Flags of our Fathers and Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima without being very sensitive as well as intelligent. Yet Eastwood combines this exquisite sensitivity with toughness. He survived a plane crash while in the army and when Spike Lee accused him of racism for not having cast more black actors in Flags of our Fathers, Eastwood, instead of mealy mouthing it, gave Lee the putdown he deserved. Eastwood is a little old now, but twenty years ago his extraordinary good looks would have given him a huge advantage with the electorate. Instead of becoming the (Republican) Mayor of Carmel, he should have been the President.
My son also said he would have liked to have seen Pat Tillman as President. He knows nothing of what Tillman's political views were; this choice was more a matter of just thinking what an attractive candidate Tillman would have made. A ruggedly good-looking former professional athlete who gave it all up to fight for his country as an Army Ranger? That's a hard combo to beat. Tillman probably could have supported reparations for slavery and still retained the white vote.
(My son's choices were not necessarily entirely serious. He has said, in the past, "As long as we're going to have a black President, why did we have to get someone boring like Obama? Why couldn't we get someone exciting, like Mike Tyson -- or maybe MC Hammer?")
My personal choices would include Pat Buchanan, Tom Wolfe, Warren Buffett, Camille Paglia, and my brother-in-law.
Buchanan is one of the most honest, intelligent politicos out there. He worked in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan White Houses. He currently works as the in-house conservative on MSNBC, an anomalous place for him to end up. He's not afraid to get in a fight (as his early history as a brawler would suggest), but he has no desire to get us embroiled in a war which is not in the best interests of the U.S., as his early opposition to the Iraq war suggests. He's far too bold in tackling politically sensitive topics to get elected, as his 1992 campaign showed. For that very reason, he'd make a great President.
Tom Wolfe is arguably our greatest living writer. He has a keen sense of how social status, machismo, money and ethnicity all interweave and affect each other. He'd probably have no interest in being President, and I'm not even sure he'd make a good one -- he's more a man of words than of action -- but he's certainly nobody's fool. That alone would make him better than our last two Presidents.
Warren Buffett is a liberal, but one with common sense. He showed his liberal bent by supporting Obama's run for the Presidency, and his common sense with his more recent comments about how Obama's policies, especially on health care, have gone too far. Buffett certainly understands economics. He wouldn't be beholden to any campaign contributors, and would be immune to bribery. And if you've ever read his annual reports, you know how witty he is. He'd be an entertaining President as well as one who would know how to spur the economy.
Camille Paglia may seem a strange choice. If you'd ever told me that I would find a lesbian feminist more simpatico than anyone else I'd ever read, I'd have thought you were crazy. But her comments on the current scene (at least the current scene back in the 90's) have been amazingly insightful. The other feminists hate her because she decries their hypocrisy in wanting all the freedoms they do but also wanting extra protection from date rape, sexual harassment, etc. Her take: if you want all the rights of men, then act like them. She also understands and celebrates the irrational emotions extremely well. Camille Paglia for President!
My brother-in-law is not a public figure, but he has long described himself as a conservative populist -- which captures the national mood perfectly right now. He was a Tea Partier (on issues other than immigration) before the party existed. And though he's not liberal, he's no country club Republican either. Having known him for a long time, I can say without any doubt that he is incorruptible -- which is why his own political career was stymied by people and agencies whose pocket he refused to go into. Of the men listed here, he is the only one young enough to be able to actually do the job. Unfortunately, I don't have the power to assign the Presidency.
Whom would you choose as President?