President Washington understood the monumental responsibility which
necessarily accompanied his role as the first man to hold the office of
the presidency in the newly formed United States. He knew the actions
he took, how he comported himself in office, would define the
presidency. There were no customs, no precedents. The Constitution
which directed the three branches of our national government was a
unique document, untested. President Washington and the other founders
had pledged “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” when they
signed the Declaration of Independence. Because of this
Washington took his responsibility seriously. Washington was in his own time hailed as a man
of genuine steadfast character, honest, courageous, principled. Today his legacy is untarnished. Washington
retired to private life deserving the label he earned — “father of our
country.” His Farewell Address was once studied by every school child
in America. If you’d like to read the speech of a man who walked his
talk — read this.
Since Washington, 41 presidents have stepped into his former position.
Each president has been honored by the American people with the
opportunity to serve their country. Some presidents have
left the office with the honor of the position still intact, their place
in history assured. Others have used their position for corrupt
practices: subverting their constitutional authority, abuse of power,
personal enrichment. It has been widely noted that President Clinton is
obsessively concerned with his legacy, he is searching for some “New
Deal” with which his name will be linked for posterity. He is unaware
of the natural influence our personality, character and ideals have over
the institutions in which we place ourselves. No institution, be it
familial or work-related, will escape conforming to its most powerful
member(s). President Clinton has created a legacy, but is it the one he
sought? Let’s see if you can step into his shoes: Take the
Presidential Suitability Test.
Your childhood friend and deputy White House counsel is found dead in a
a.) order a thorough, aggressive investigation by the FBI. Because you
fired the director of the FBI the day before, you immediately appoint a
career professional to the post — you do not want the investigation
b.) you allow the Park Police to take care of the matter — after all
they are police, aren’t they? You send your buddy in to oversee the FBI
until you have time to appoint a new director.
Moments after the discovery of your friend’s death, his office is
cordoned off by the park police. You …
a.) contact your staff and tell them to cooperate fully with the
investigators and to stay out of the office. You will not countenance
an appearance of obstruction of justice.
b.) have your staff enter the office against the protestations of
police, instruct them to ransack all files and have the hard disk of his
computer wiped clean of all data.
A reporter, after an in-depth investigation, finds serious
irregularities with the investigation. He has documented evidence.
a.) are shocked! Has some heinous crime been committed and left
unpunished? This was a senior White House official and a close friend!
You have your staff contact the reporter — you wish to judge his
evidence yourself. You then call the widow personally to console her,
promise to get to the bottom of this, order the body exhumed and an
investigation into the investigation.
b.) do nothing, wouldn’t it be great if this landed in the black hole
of an independent counsel?
Executives with your party propose a background report on some of your
most vocal critics. They want the White House to cooperate in gathering
information on private citizens. After completion, the White House will
distribute the report to friendly journalists in order to smear and
a.) are appalled! Use taxpayer funds for political purposes? Violate
the First Amendment rights of targeted Americans? You throw the bums out
of the Oval Office and call party offices to demand his resignation!
b.) ask how long the report will take to produce.
The chief of White House security, an ex-bar bouncer has what he
considers a great idea. Obtain confidential FBI security files on members
of the opposing party. These files contain the results of
investigations conducted into the subject’s private lives — really juicy
stuff! You never know when this might come in handy! You …
a.) are scandalized! This proposal would violate the Constitution and
the trust of the American people. If you did this, the Congress would
immediately issue an inquiry into impeachment. You have this man fired
and demand to know who hired him in the first place.
b.) make a priority list on whose files you want most.
Your wife comes to you with what she considers to be a swell idea. Fire
the staff of the Travel Office so she can get some of your friends into
the lucrative business of coordinating travel for national government
officials. You …
a.) love your wife but are ashamed by her proposal. You remind
her: you were elected president, not she. You also remind her that you
would never compromise your ethics for personal gain and influence.
Besides, this would surely get out — it is an impeachable offense. The
Congress would never abrogate responsibility to impeach for
b.) You kiss her cheek. Isn’t she darling? Put her on the project.
Remind her to bring in the FBI and the IRS if needed.
Members of your staff want to run another idea past you. Money is
tight, your next campaign will be expensive. They put forth their plan:
Take the White House visitor database and merge it with your party’s.
Coordinate efforts to use the White House as a fundraising machine.
Sell access to the Lincoln bedroom, coffees, Air Force One, radio
addresses etc. You …
a.) are beside yourself with rage! “Insanity!” you cry. Everything they
have proposed is unconstitutional and unethical! Do your own people
want you impeached? Congress would never let this go by. You fire all
b.) laugh, Why didn’t you guys think of this before?
You and your wife are giving a dinner party. You ask your security
staff to identify the strangers present. They assure you they have
invited all the “right” people: South American drug runners,
international arms dealers, foreign representatives, a few members of a
religious order — are those Buddhist nuns? You …
a.) politely excuse yourself. Call an emergency staff meeting and
question the security standards of the responsible parties. This is the
White House for heaven’s sake, not a bordello! Later you call Gary
Alldrich and apologize.
b.) say, “Great! This is a fundraiser isn’t it? Who’s that cute chick
You have been informed that that the Communist Chinese have spent
millions of dollars in an attempt to manipulate America’s elections and
foreign policy. You …
a.) go on national television to inform the public of your concerns.
You demand a thorough investigation saying, “Let the chips fall where
they may. The security and sovereignty of the United States will never
b.) sell super computers to the Chinese.
c.) allow defense contractors to sell high-tech weaponry (unavailable
to some of our allies) to the Chinese without clearing transactions with
the appropriate federal agencies
d.) see if you can get some of the money.
e.) propose to the Chinese, their purchase of a naval base in
California next to top-secret defense installations. This will
complement their new leases at both ends of the Panama Canal. They will
be able to ship cargo in and out of the U.S. without going through
Customs. You want to be a good neighbor.
A White House cabinet official, under the cloud of investigation, dies
in a plane crash. A year later it comes to light that pathologists
present at the examination urged the examiner to perform an autopsy
because a perfectly cylindrical hole the size and shape of a bullet
wound is found in the cabinet official’s head. You …
a.) are shocked! Has some heinous crime been committed and left
unpunished? This was a senior White House official! Anyone with common sense would have
autopsied. This is about national security! You call the widow
personally to console her, promise to get to the bottom of this, order
the body exhumed (this will prove or disprove the charges and the
confidence of the American people will be restored) and order an
investigation into the conduct of the examiner who refused to autopsy.
You are confronted by the charge that you had a sexual relationship with
a 21-year-old intern. This is categorically untrue so you …
a.) are outraged! You immediately go on national television to deny
all charges. You answer all questions fully because your marriage, the
dignity of the presidency and the trust of the American people are at
stake. You don’t need lawyers, advisers and spin doctors — you have
done no wrong! No one will believe that you would risk your presidency,
the integrity and honor of our nation, not to mention jeopardize national
security for cheap thrills. Besides, Congress would never contenence
behavior like this — these are impeachable offenses!
b.) avoid most questions and obfuscate the answers you do address. You
ask your wife to think of a diversion – hey, what about a right-wing
conspiracy, or is that getting old? You call Dick Morris — he’ll know of
a way to divert attention. What’s next? War? I’ll save that as a last
Scoring your suitablity test:
For all (a) answers, give yourself 0 points.
For all other answers give yourself 50 points each.
0 points: you are old-fashioned and out-of-touch. You may join a
George Washington fan club but you are unfit for the presidency of the
50 to 600: You obviously lack the character of consistency and
strength of purpose. Re-examine your test and evaluate your error(s)
650 point: Congratulations! You are perfectly suited for the office of
the presidency in the 21st century. Contact your party’s headquarters
for their support.