By Scott Roeben
There are probably a lot of jobs worse than being the President.
Proctologists come immediately to mind. As do those men and women who gut fish for a living. Then there are the fletchers, steeplejacks, wainwrights, semioticians, braziers and tinkers. These jobs are not particularly difficult, but you can just imagine the inherent problems when even you have no idea what you do for a living.
But the truth is, you don't see lots of interest in becoming a fletcher or a fish-gutter. Everyone wants to be the President, however. Except me.
Why? Well, first, I hate the idea of kissing babies. This may seem like a little thing, but a presidential campaign can go on for months. While not known until recently, Jimmy Carter's bid for reelection is believed to have been thwarted by a painful case of chapped lips. Coincidence? In addition, babies are notoriously sticky. They cannot help it, it is in their job description: "Position requires ability to shriek, drool and secrete oddly-colored viscous substances from every bodily opening. Experience in profound stickiness a must."
Another reason I would hate to be the President relates to Camp David. Presidents spend tons of time at Camp David. I am sure it is very nice there, although I understand that we, the Public, will never be able to set foot there or even see pictures of the place due to National Security, which translates as "we would be extraordinarily ticked to see billions of our tax dollars being spent on shrubs being trimmed into the shapes of various farm animals." I would hate being the President because I have an aversion to any place with the word "Camp" in its name. Camp David is far too reminiscent of my childhood summer camp, Camp Whattarashigotta. When it comes to Camp David, I can't help but envision a bunch of Generals and Chiefs of Staff sitting around a campfire telling stories in an attempt to gross each other out.
The life of a President is not an easy one. You find out pretty quickly that perhaps the most unappealing part of the job is that various people want to shoot you. Some of America's most famous people have either shot a President or tried to. People shoot Presidents for a variety of reasons, but these individuals often have certain things in common. Many potential assassins exhibit feelings of alienation and powerlessness, and often see violence as the only way to make their theological beliefs heard. They are also usually a few guppies short of a school.
Being President would mean that you would have to learn to live with the fear of being wounded or killed merely because of the job you do. (Usually, that honor is reserved for Postal Employees.) This realization certainly puts those often-recited perks into perspective, doesn't it? Any pleasure derived from Inaugural Balls and lavish State dinners would surely be nullified by the constant flinching every time you drove past a book depository.
As President, you have to get used to bathing in the company of a phalanx of Secret Service agents, for example. It's just not for me. And what's more, if I want to spend the rest of my life behind glass, I'll take a job in the drive-thru window of a fast food restaurant. Although lately, in certain parts of the country, that's not a real safe place to be either, come to think of it.
There is another drawback to being the President that many people overlook. Namely, First Ladies. Tell the truth. Have you ever seen one that was any more attractive than your own brother? Yet, if you are the President, shouldn't you be in the unique position of being able to meet any number of young, attractive women to cavort with? This is a baffling paradox, which some Presidents attempt to solve by having a First Lady and various cavorts.
As President, say "so long" to privacy. Once in the public eye, you can kiss moments of quiet solitude goodbye. The press hounds the President mercilessly, passing personal and intimate information along to the huddled masses (namely you and your friends--the ones that huddle, anyway) with little restraint. Technology now allows even amateur photographers to own zoom lenses that can zoom in on a human navel from 300 yards away. Personally, I would not want it known throughout the world every time I got a polyp or accidentally threw up on a foreign dignitary.
Aside from private moments being made public, there is also the issue of a President's life being open season for political opponents, the press and rousers of the rabble. (Again, you and your friends.) Could any of us withstand the intense scrutiny that a President's life and actions are constantly subjected to? Would we like to have our past delved into? We all have things we are ashamed of. For some, it would mean having any embarrassing incident involving an exotic dancer and a manatee smeared across the front pages of tabloids all over the world. Not that such an incident has ever really taken place, of course. Especially not in my bathtub, you can bet.
Next, I wouldn't want to be President because I don't want to have my bust on a coin. I've never seen a flattering likeness of me. The idea of having coinage with me on it jingling in pockets all over the fruited plains after I'm dead makes me feel a little nauseated.
Furthermore, as President, you might come into contact with French people. The nausea is not getting any better at this point.
A sad side effect of being elected President is that you have to live in the White House. Nobody wants to live in the White House. Everyone knows that white makes you look fat. President Bill Clinton probably weighs around one-hundred-and-fifty pounds, but when he stands in front of that stark white building, he looks large enough to be mistaken for an atoll.
Presidents have too much responsibility, too. Personally, I don't want that kind of pressure. To be honest, I wake up in a mood sometimes. For no particular reason. I have to tell you, I just can't see myself, on a bad hair day or with that horrible taste in my mouth, being in a position to push a button and lay waste to entire continents. That would mean a bad hair day for lots of people.
And another thing. This might sound like nitpicking, but the President gets paid squat. You spend your life going to school, pressing palms, making compromises, serving as a Congressman or Governor, then you finally take the reins of the most prosperous nation on Earth. You are the President of the United States of America. Two weeks later you get your paycheck and you realize that you have the weight of the world on your shoulders while you make a good deal less than a night manager at Pizza Hut.
Go ahead, throw your hat in the ring. You'll see. You'll be wishing you were a proctologist in no time.
© Scott Roeben, 1999, 2000. All rights reserved.