We need a full-time President

by Barbara Clowdus

Hobe Sound resident Jennifer Ferrari, executive director of the Hobe Sound Chamber of Commerce, told those gathered at the NAC meeting in November, that people forget too easily. “We need reminders of our history,” she said. She was talking about commemorating those who had lost their lives in the 9-11 terrorist attack on the US, but forgetting too easily can be applied to a number of issues, especially those regarding our own government.

Prior to the election, and even now, many people forgot that America chose to engage in the costliest war ever in America’s history at the same time that our government cut taxes. We paid the nearly incalculable war expense with a Chinese credit card. The electorate also largely forgot that the biggest portion of the $800 billion stimulus package, the T.A.R.P. (Troubled Asset Relief Program) originated on the desk of George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, and much of that went on the Chinese card, too.

We also have all too easily forgotten that in 2008, we were standing on a financial cliff’, when only a sneeze could have cast this country—the world, actually—into an abyss from which it might have taken a generation to recover. Former President Bush talks about that period of his Presidency in his recent book, “Decision Points.” The economic well being of the US and the world sat squarely on his lap. His Republican cohorts urged him to let the markets adjust on their own, to let banks and businesses fail, to keep big government out of the affairs of business. After all, those companies had brought it on themselves, they told him, and he needed to uphold the principles of the Republican Party, which had put him in office. Give those businesses the freedom to fail.

President Bush thought about American families, that he was their President, too—not just of the Republicans—and they were depending on him. He made a decision that contradicted his party’s core beliefs, followed through by Barack Obama (who had voted against an AIG bailout as a senator, but upheld it as President) and in the process, economists now credit them for saving America’s free enterprise system from certain collapse.

Their decisions were Presidential.

Another US President at another time, Thomas Jefferson, also faced a decision that tugged at his conscience and seemed to undermine every principle on which he had built his life and formed the foundation of the instrument he had authored, the US Constitution. He had campaigned vigorously to limit the powers of the President, and he had been specific in the design of this governing document to do just that. Then Napoleon unexpectedly offered to sell the Louisiana territories, more than a million square miles, to the US. Jefferson knew he had no Constitutional power to purchase land. He agonized between upholding the principles of the US Constitution or accepting Napoleon’s offer. Fear that Napoleon would change his mind fueled his decision, which he made over the rebukes of those closest to him. Another President acting on behalf of his nation.

Today, we need another President to put aside his personal ambitions and make a decision on behalf of his country. He needs to decide whether to spend the next two years on a rigorous campaign trail defending himself, or to concentrate instead on the future of this country. After Jan. 1 and the lame ducks are gone, the new ducks will take over the pond. All the quacking will produce nothing but cacophony, which we’ve already seen in Congress, requiring that President Obama use all his much-touted persuasiveness to steer a reasonable course for this shaky economy and for the safety of the American family.

The United States can ill afford now to have a part-time President for the next two years.