We The People

This election campaign brings to mind a haberdasher. A guy going broke selling menís clothing. It brings to mind aristocrats. And army generals, an engineer and farmers. And donít forget professors.

If you think about our presidents as young men, these are the occupations that must come up. This is the work they performed. Before they took on the job of running a country. The job in which they shaped destinies of billions of people around the world.

Truman knew farming. He knew menís clothing. He felt the pains of struggling in a business until he and the business were broke. He suffered a mother-in-law who voted for the other candidate.

In the White House he made some of the most momentous decisions in the history of humanity. His was an extra-ordinary presidency. In many ways he was extra-ordinary. And in many ways, ordinary. An ordinary guy. He played poker in the White House.

At one point an old pal from his haberdasher days stopped by. To urge him to have this country recognize Israel at its birth. One ordinary guy, tears streaming down his cheeks, begging another ordinary guy. Begging him to make such a huge and controversial decision.

Such things happen here. I met a man who was among the few allowed to visit Reagan in hospital after he was shot. He was an old pal of the Presidentís. A regular guy, who made furniture. He had been one of the Midwest small-town guys who raised money to buy young Reagan a wardrobe. Back when he decided to take his chances in Hollywood.

Yes, so many of our presidents are politicians from their toe-nails to the hair on their head. By the time they reach the White House they are. But so many of them spent years as ordinary folks.

Hoover worked as an engineer. Eisenhower banged around the military for years, many as a junior officer. Carter managed his peanut farm. Reagan broadcast baseball games. Later he ran a trade union. Bush the Second ran an oil business, then a baseball club.

Of course the office has been graced by aristocrats as well. JFK was one. As was FDR. And Bush the First, in a way. And some of our presidents have been politicians for most of their working lives. I suspect Clinton began practicing politics in his crib. When he was a boy, some of LBJís relatives seriously suggested he would be president.

Our founders rejected kings. They scorned the idea that power should be absolute. And that it might be passed along to family members. They recognized that people who enjoy power often get tastes for it so strong as to turn them into tyrants. Knowing this, George Washington insisted he not be treated as royalty. Our early leaders wanted former presidents to slip back into ordinary lives. Among the people they once ruled.

Ours donít do that these days. They get special treatment Ďtil they die. But still, we kick Ďem out. We the people. We search for the next one Ė be he or she a baker, a candlestick maker. Or a community organizer cum professor. Or a venture capitalist business man.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tomís radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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