Every four years another group of egocentric, driven individuals get it in their mind that they have the special ingredients that are required for the demanding job of President of the United States. They come in several distinct sub-species. There are the career politicians who “understand” the inner workings of modern government “better” than the rest of us, and can make it work where others have failed. There are the giant intellectuals who are convinced the guy who had the job before was obviously the village idiot or doofus. There are the up and comers who feel that the establishment team in place is worn out and devoid of new ideas, and the country only needs the spark of a fresh face with newer ideas to stimulate progress. One lucky winner finally gets to take his place in the sun and see if he (or eventually she) is up to the job.
And every four years the enormous responsibility, pressures, and burdens of marshaling the largest economy on earth and being leader of the free world come barrelling down on the new Achilles. Like Achilles with his unique and fatal flaw, the cracks in the armour become progressively exposed in the new leader and in the case of those unprepared emotionally for the job, can find their armour broken wide open.
On Friday the Leader of the Free World, President Obama, a politician his adult life, a giant intellectual replacing a “doofus”, and an up and comer who was going to “heal the earth and stop the rising of the oceans” met full face his own Achilles heel. He has found himself bored with the job and its increasingly heavy stresses. Most profoundly, he recently has had to experience the sour taste of compromise negotiations that come with a democracy that in November declared his radical agenda unacceptably radical. On Wednesday he was forced to explain at a press conference a tax agreement he had negotiated, at which he immediately stated he would do what he could to over turn in two years, while simultaneously explaining why it was good for the economy and country. In this particular case, he was against it before he was for it, and he is against it again. The Friday press conference was the coup de grace however to his crumbling veneer of special capacity for the job. In a hastily arranged press conference his own press secretary Robert Gibbs had no indication he was planning, he went out with former President Clinton to “explain” the virtues of the compromise. From the start he gave the podium to Clinton, who reveled being back in the klieglights; within minutes Obama started staring at his watch, and when a period for questions began, suddenly announced he had to leave to attend a party to keep his wife from becoming angry with him. He turned and left, leaving the former President to do the explaining to the American people of what in the world the current President had in mind for them. Former President Clinton LOVED it; almost no one else did.
Every four years, a group of individuals think they are up to the spectacular personal demands of a Presidency. Some are. This President isn’t – and we somehow have to get through two more years without damage.