Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why I Like Hillary for President

Anyone who has known me since the last election understands, in gruesome detail, what I think about the U.S. Presidency. But I live in Washington DC and the campaign is well underway. I can't get away from it, so ... I'm compelled to say it all again. Apologies to those who have heard this rant before.

I believe the office of the U.S. presidency is flawed. The job itself is impossible, as has been shown to us again and again. A few rise up to brilliance, but after all our years as a country, still, the number of "great" presidents can be counted on one hand. The ones who ascended to excellence did so because of circumstances at hand - big wars and such. And, too, once a person has been brilliant in the office of the presidency, they're bound to get killed or drop dead soon afterwards. The U.S. presidency "ain't right" as my friend Sharon Austin would say.

With all due respect to one of my heroes, George Washington, I see what you founding fathers wanted - fairness, equality (among white men at least). You wanted to see the CEO hat passed around from one to the other - you were sick of monarchies. I get it. When George refused the crown, it was a profoundly revolutionary moment. The idea behind the presidency is great - fair, democratic. But the reality is that we put a "renter" into the most powerful position in our country every four or eight years. It's a big problem.

Any job takes awhile to learn. "Big" jobs take a year or two, minimum, before the person doing the work gets good at it. When I think about the level of responsibility involved in being president, I imagine that to really get good at it must take longer - maybe four years, maybe six. Every four or eight years,we toss the president into the rubbish bin, place another rookie in the Oval Office. And we wonder why presidents always look dazed and confused, why they age so tragically and why many of them begin to shine only after the end of the presidency. Think of Carter, Bill Clinton.

The job itself sucks, but in addition, our presidents have to live in the White House. I am not exaggerating when I say that the White House is the most haunted building I've ever set foot in. A few years ago I was treated to a nighttime tour with a small group. I'm telling you, the White House is CREEPY. Yikes! Ugly, too - butt ugly! Even the way the house is managed is creepy. They use a system that's been in place since 1800, as much as they can. They even still have house slaves, old black men who work their entire lives in the White House as butlers, I guess is the closest polite word I can think of to describe it. Everyone on staff at the House has some bizarre title. And think about it - the White House is a southern plantation house. Lafayette Park, in front of the house (used to be the back yard until the 1940's) was one of DC's largest slave markets. Is that the right idea for the residency of our most powerful citizen? Believe me - that house is WEIRD!! The president has to work from home, too, so there's no escape (except Camp David) from the scary feng shui.

I like Hillary for president for very practical reasons. She's married to one - she knows the drill. She lived in the White House for eight years, so she certainly knows its secrets. They say the Clintons loved being at "home" - they hosted bowling and movie parties and lots of events. Who knows? Maybe the White House ghosts are fond of the Clintons, maybe the spirits didn't give them such a rough time. What I hear is that the Bushes are hardly ever in the house. Figures.

She has lived in the White House, she's married to a two term president, she has worked in Congress. Hillary's got chops. And though I don't agree with everything she says or does, I think there's absolutely no way anyone can accurately promise what they'll accomplish once they're hammered into the stiff, heavy suit of the U.S. Presidency. Campaign promises are, by their very nature, empty.

That said, I would be happy to vote for any of the Democratic candidates. Obama is really such a good guy. The Republican candidates are ... well ... just weird! I think any of them could turn out to be worse than Dubya, hard to imagine. Yikes.

OKay. Enough about the presidency, Reya! Enough!


Aileen said...

Ah! Politics with a Reya twist! Love it!

Barbara said...

I too would vote for Hillary. But then I have to remind myself that Iowa, NH, and definitely Washington DC are NOT typical of this country. There are still many voters out there who are not ready to elect a woman or a black candidate. In the end I want to vote for a winner who will help this country heal from 8 years of the current administration. It's going to be an interesting year.

Reya Mellicker said...

You know that old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times," ?? Oh yeah.

Lynne said...

What a gorgeous photo! It looks like the plumy tail of some exotic creature. I haven't seen a sky that blue in months! ;)

I too am rooting (and voting) for Hillary. My vote will be cast Democratic regardless. I can't imagine another Republican again.

Watching before the Iowa caucuses they interviewed a cute old gentlemen in overalls who said we needed a woman as president. He went on to say that the men have had the position for two hundred years and haven't gotten it right yet. Just his opinion, of course!

Washington Cube said...

I never picked up that vibe as much in the White House as I did say certain back stairwells in the Capitol or underground tunnels that connect the Hill office buildings to the two Library of Congress buildings, one in particular where you feel like you are walking through centuries of old paper...and you are. Those tunnels go down to Union Station and all over the place, but I am wondering, post 9-11 how accessible any of them are anymore.

I have a picture I took in the White House at Christmas of my parents kissing under mistletoe in a doorway in the Red Room. My mother was not one for public display like that, so all the more remarkable.

I cannot walk by that one iron doored slave hold in Georgetown without shuddering every time. I think I blogged about it in the past, but perhaps another blog.

P.S. to your neighbor and their plummy ornamental grasses. Time to whack that down to the ground to prepare for the regrowth...jes saying. :x

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, it's an ornamental grass that curls up when it gets cold. It's at the corner of 10th and Mass Ave. NE. They also have a rosemary bush 10' in circumference. And haughty standard poodles. Oh well.

I've been on some of the subway trains you talked about - before 9/11 anyone could ride underneath the Capitol. I liked getting on at the Hart Bldg and riding to the basement of the Capitol, then walking up to the rotunda to meditate. (At that time I thought of the Capitol as the "head" of DC, so I liked going from the (sic) hart to the head.

I've got a picture of myself with 7 wine officianados in the wine cellar at the House. It's not a collection to boast about ... in fact there are still dymo labels over the shelves that say "scotch" and "gin." It's like they shoved the wine into the cellar sometime in the last few years. Stange. Just as we were looking down our noses at the wine cellar, we heard a dog barking. Our guide told us that meant the First Lady had finished her dinner ... it was her dog barking. We stood around in the kitchen and finished Mrs. Bush's salmon dinner - not off her plate of course ... we had the leftovers.

Fine cuisine is not a priority at the White House. It is such a bizarre space.

Steve said...

What you've also hit on here is the absurdity of term limits. I don't see why we can't have a president for more than two terms. (And yes, I know this often wouldn't work in my favor.) When someone learns the office, and they're doing a good job in the eyes of the voters, why can't they stay there?

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

I wonder to what extent the president's job is really the president's job. My sense is that increasingly the president is the frontman, the ones who pull the strings, do the plotting and planning, are hidden behind him/her. One sees it in the States and one sees it elsewhere.
The basic trouble is there are very few leaders - good leaders - anywhere in the world.
Here's hoping, whoever it is, it's a Democrat who wins.

d. chedwick bryant said...

Term limits restrict a good president from carrying out long term goals and encourage short term solutions.

I toured the white house once--the rooms were so ugly--I was with a friend who was having a bad day and she kept saying how ugly the place was--in a loud voice. Two guys in suits came over to us and asked us to come with them--they escorted us to the door and said "Goodbye--Have a Nice Day, girls." What a waste of money.

Reya Mellicker said...

Hi Vanilla! Duties and string pulling are part of being president, but what interests me is the energetics of the job, taking on that mantle passed down from George Washington. It's SO loaded.

In a way we're all lucky that Gore got cheated out of the presidency - he certainly has radiated all good things ever since he "lost."

Yes Ched, the White House is hideously ugly.

Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Okay, you've convinced me to abandon my run for the White House. If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.

Reya Mellicker said...

I'd vote for you in one honcho second, Ladron!

My friend Mary tells me that we have to have two Clinton presidencies to counter balance the two Bush presidencies. I like it - c'mon Hillary.

lettuce said...

well poop i left a comment here, or thought i had, i remember typing it

can't remember what i said tho!