The ‘Right Stuff’ for the Presidency

Testiclesby Jon N. Hall    2/8/16
An old joke I heard during my brief time in the opera business went something like this: There are four types of tenors: leggiero, lyric, spinto, and heldentenor. The leggiero tenor has no balls. The lyric tenor has one ball. The spinto tenor has two balls. And the heldentenor has two balls, and he’s standing on one of them.

The joke might be funny only to opera goers, especially those who attend the Bayreuth Festival. But allow me to add that the recently-departed Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers had three or four balls and never needed to stand on any of them. (As you might guess, I’m a fan of that late, great singer.)

In any event, balls bring us to Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the U.K. Some might think it rude to say that the “Iron Lady” had more balls than the men of her day leading other European nations — rude, that is, to Lady Thatcher, who was every inch a woman. However, it could be said that compared to some of her male counterparts, Mrs. Thatcher certainly had no fewer balls.

What is meant by “balls” is: guts, grit, courage, will, determination, and resolve. But those attributes can also work in the service of evil; Hitler certainly had “will,” didn’t he? So there must be other qualities that are needed in the leader of a nation besides balls. Just what are those other qualities that make a person fit to be the prime minister or the president of a great nation?

At a recent rally in New Hampshire, former president Clinton spoke of his wife Hillary: “I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience, and temperament to do what needs to be done now to restore prosperity, to deal with these human issues, to make us as safe as possible. Thank you very much [short video].”

Okay, but why believe him? After all, the former president has a record of lying, even under oath in a grand jury. Perhaps Bill’s just trying to get himself back in the White House. And I’d like to remind the former president that he was alive in 1946. So his “lifetime” includes the runs for president of Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, and Reagan. Hillary’s more qualified than those guys? C’mon, Bill.

Going the Distance,” a January 2014 article in The New Yorker, is often cited for Pres. Obama’s reference to ISIS as a junior varsity basketball team: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” (And getting elected president doesn’t mean one is fit to be president, Mr. President.)

Another Obama quote from that same article is germane to our issue of what are the essentials, the “right stuff,” for being president: “I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every President, like every person. I do think one of my strengths is temperament.”

Is that a fact? Does Obama have the correct temperament for the presidency? When Bill Clinton spoke in New Hampshire about his wife, he stressed the word “temperament.” So, what exactly is the ideal presidential temperament?

One important aspect of temperament is the ability and willingness to be collegial. “Collegiality” involves respecting one’s colleagues and listening to their ideas; it involves being open to others’ input. So many of the monumental achievements of the modern age, like going to the Moon, were massive collegial efforts, where folks pool their knowledge and expertise. Together, we’re smarter.

Barack Obama demonstrated a lack of collegiality at the Healthcare Summit in 2010. Senator McCain had just presented a very respectful call to revisit certain issues in the healthcare legislation that would become ObamaCare, and finished his comments saying, “I thank you, Mr. President.” Obama responded thus: “Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore; the election’s over.” Some might have wished that McCain had responded in kind: Yes, Barry, I know, and I can’t explain the electorate’s bad judgment.

Fortunately, Sen. McCain was a gentleman and refrained from payback. Had he done so, it would have further poisoned the summit, (and he would have lowered himself to Obama’s level). There was nothing in Sen. McCain’s comments that was unreasonable, but the president couldn’t resist putting McCain in his place. What would possess someone to be so rude to a genuine American patriot? Was it that Sen. McCain wouldn’t let Obama cut him off: “Can I just finish, please?” Maybe that ticked off our little princeling. (You can watch McCain’s entire presentation by starting at the 2:21:10 mark of this C-SPAN video, or you can watch just the end, or this split-screen version positioned at Obama’s snark.)

Throughout his presidency, Obama has demonstrated a singular deficiency at collegiality. When Obama encounters questions he doesn’t like, he tries to shut down the questioner and end the discussion. When asked if the healthcare bill’s “individual mandate” were actually a tax, Obama would have none of it, and laughed at his questioner dismissively. Obama’s belief in his own pet ideas is so absolute that he is even comfortable overriding the best advice of his generals. Obama seems not to have an ability to work with others; it’s all “my way or the highway.” But there’s no need for collegiality if you already know everything. In “The Confident Ignorance of Barack Obama,” Thomas Sowell writes:

As Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School has pointed out, Obama made no effort to take part in the marketplace of ideas with other faculty members when he was teaching a law course there. What would be the point, if he already knew the truth and knew that they were wrong? [Italics add.]

The main objective of “political animals” like Obama and the Clintons is to get elected; it’s not to fix a broken America, nor to protect her. There are people who govern and there are people who campaign; Obama and the Clintons are the latter. Just look at the huge Republican electoral gains under Obama and the Clintons. It’s amazing that Democrats who still care about their party still support the very people who have brought it down.

America is so beaten up and broken right now that she needs a “savior,” like a Lincoln. If Obama doesn’t do the right thing and proceed with an indictment of Mrs. Clinton, then Republicans should “fight fire with oil” and nominate a woman. And they should also insist on a minority for running mate. Just to be sure, they probably ought to do those two things anyway. Carly Fiorina might just have the right temperament to be president, but there are other terrific conservative women that convention delegates could draft.

America needs a collegial president, not a “lyrical” one.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (1031 views)

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17 Responses to The ‘Right Stuff’ for the Presidency

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience, and temperament to do what needs to be done now to restore prosperity, to deal with these human issues, to make us as safe as possible.

    So she’s running against Obama? Oh, lord, what a compendium of idiots, liars, thieves, and malcontents in the Democrat Party. Unless Billy means she’s running against George Bush.

    For those slaving away at normal-paying jobs (or even a little above or below), it’s offensive to hear the Hillary can get $100,000 for one speech or more. Think about what sort of parallel universe people have to be living in in order to value a political tramp like that.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      For those slaving away at normal-paying jobs (or even a little above or below), it’s offensive to hear the Hillary can get $100,000 for one speech or more. Think about what sort of parallel universe people have to be living in in order to value a political tramp like that.

      Shut up you ignorant serf and get back to pulling that plow, where you belong.

      (The above line must be said with the sound of whips cracking in the background. A few moans might also be appropriate.)

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I remember many years ago suggesting Margaret Thatcher as Speaker of the House because she had more balls than the entire GOP leadership there combined.

    Obama lacks a presidential temperament in a variety of ways. He has shown himself to be extremely spiteful and intolerant of even the mildest dissent, and is an arrogant, narcissistic sociopath. It was his personality, more even than his views, that led me to use sobriquets for him (Barry Screwtape Obama and the Black God) that imply he’s a demon. I think he really is demonic.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      One of the things common to Establishment Republicans is that they have no balls. They are accommodationists. They go all wobbly on us all the time.

      Giving them the coverage cloud that they supposedly are not these wobbly things are the many talking heads in the conservative media who say lots and lots of conservative things but it never adds up to supporting politicians who believe in conservative actions. Anyone who wishes to engage the culture wars in ways beyond rhetoric are written off as kooks.

      This is why I’ve given Donald Trump a lot of slack and continue to do so. Note that I consciously and honestly admit this. You’ll get no creepy fanboyism here. And I’m sure the rest of you are the same. I have my likes and dislikes but I won’t use that to try to recast reality. Trump is a highly problematic person. But the eGOP is, for sure, a losing proposition. A lot of voters are willing (or at least we will soon see) to take a chance on Trump.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The base has lost all trust in the GOPe Establishment. Contrary to what pundits seem to think, even if Bush, Kasich, Christie or any other establishment politician came out with a comprehensive conservative agenda tomorrow, people would not believe them. The GOPe has lost all credibility.

        We all realize Trump might also be a liar. But, unlike with the GOPe, there is at least a slight possibility he may do some of the things he is promising.

        We have nothing to lose from that perspective.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The GOPe has lost all credibility.

          At least amongst those who keep a relative eye on things. When it comes to the general election (or as this primary process plays out), we shall see. I think the low-information right is larger than one might suppose, more amenable to the kind of conservatism that conserves where we are right now. These are the “I’ve got mine” conservatives who now view every social program as a God-given right written into the Constitution, no matter that we are breaking the bank and wreaking social destruction.

          Cruz claims to be more of a subtractive conservative. Trump promises to be more of a Progressive who doesn’t cut but channels the powers of government into more brick-and-mortar things: a bridge or dam, if you will, rather than rat-holing trillions into “poverty.” And that approach would be an improvement because a dam is more usable than a 3rd-generation crack whore.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            One thing to note is that most of the GOP candidates who responded to a question on making women register for the draft found most agreeing. Cruz came out against it, though his strongest attack on it came the next day. No one seems to think of pointing out that there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell of actually resuming the draft. So why have anyone register for it?

  3. David Ray says:

    My observation leads my to believe we’re running dry of “right stuff”.

    When Ann Coulter & Sarah Palin are cheering for one who not long ago cheered single payer and Hillary Clinton (big time financial contribution cheering), I’m doubting our right stuff.

    I thank Donald for bringing to the fore the damage of illegal immigration (71% welfare beneficiariats), but damn him for endorsing corporate welfare for ADM . . or at least the engine in my truck damns him.

    Somebody just get me Alexander Hamilton on the phone before those idiots take his face off the $10 dollar bill!!

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s a nominally coherent article by Scott McKay on the misguided Republican Establishment: An Autopsy for an Autopsy

    • Timothy Lane says:

      A nice article, and the ending links it well to the title of this article. My main concern is that McKay fails to point out that Rubio (whom he rightly sees as genuinely pro-immigration) ran very differently in 2010. He has a history of running to the right and operating to the left. Perhaps, in some future when immigration has been stopped (over the dead bodies — this may have to be literally true — of the bipartisan Beltway Banditry) long enough to allow American workers to recover and the economy to grow to where it could use a large group of immigrants again, Rubio would even be a good nominee. But for now, we need someone who will do his best to force immigration control, not immigration reform.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      A good article.

      To my mind, immigration is the single greatest issue facing this nation. I have been fighting against the flood of immigrants since at least 2007 when Bush and McCain tried to legalize the illegals already here and increase the flow of those to come. I personally believe the roots of the Tea Party movement grow from this 2007 fight.

      I was a big Rubio fan when he ran against Crist, and was happy to see him elected to the Senate. However, I was appalled at his almost immediate about-face on immigration and his being a founding member of the Gang of Eight. He lost my support from that point forward. More importantly, he gained my permanent animosity and my conviction to work against any run for the presidency which he might make. I believe there are a huge number of others who feel the same way.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        This was when I was starting to become an active blogger, and I saw many on NRO saying that Rubio was now dead to them. I would sitll have supported him for the Senate if he had run again because the alternative (any Demagogue) would even be worse. But I ceased to trust him even as much as I trust the typical politician.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          This is were I distinguish between peripheral issues (the so-called “shaming ballot” of Cruz’s campaign) and more personally fundamental issues. As Mr. Kung reminds us, these guys are all politicians. Think back to high school. Was your class president sort of a creepy “popular” sort of guy who perhaps craved adulation a bit too much?

          This is the political class. And unless we revert to a king, this is the way it will be. We have elected officials. And the types of people (by no means all of them) who are attracted to public office tend to be a little creepy. Think of politics as a hook-up bar where you’ll find guys willing to say anything to get the girl home to bed that night.

          Your physical virginity is not at stake in politics. But your vote is that thing, for all intents and purpose, that “all guys want.” As Rush was saying yesterday, not all people are ideological or think in those terms. But he said he’s had it in his mind all these years to get people to see that those — particularly on the Left — who are in or running for office tend to be highly ideological. You have to be able to see behind their words. You have to be able to distinguish between the marketing scheme and the actual goals of these politicians.

          In the case of Rubio, it was a chance to see a political socio-path. He is your typical school class president gone national. He will do or say anything to advance his political career. Ideas (unless he really is a closet liberal) are secondary. His buying into the amnesty bill was a sign of this. He was sucking up to the elder statesmen who he thought could help propel and solidify his career, all while taking on an issue he had been convinced was a vote-getter, with not a care in the world at what this would do to our nation.

          Now he knows better. And when confronted on this, he reveals the scripted, robotic nature of his beliefs by dispensing his pre-digested remarks. Rubio is dead to me. Cruz, on the other hand, simply made a public-relations mistake. (But then, I would warn one and all, like sausages and the law, you don’t really want to see what goes on in the deepest recesses of political campaigns.)

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Think back to high school. Was your class president sort of a creepy “popular” sort of guy who perhaps craved adulation a bit too much?

            Have you also noticed that ex cheerleaders are also over-represented in the corridors of power? George W. Bush and Trent Lott are just two who come to mind. Is there something there about getting crowds to become mindless?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Most Republicans, and probably many Demagogues, in fact have little or no ideology. However, they’re pushed in certain directions by their supporters. In the case of the Left, the Unholy Trinity of activists, big donors, and the synoptic media all push them steadily leftward. In the GOP, there are several conservative strains in the grassroots, but the donors push them to surrender to the Beltway consensus. So they talk conservatively to appeal to their voters while paying more attention once in office to the donors.

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