What’s a POTUS to do?

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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64 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    “I’m asking something more far more basic: At a day-to-day, have-Janet-in-HR-send-you-the-offical-job-description level, what do we mean in 2015 when we say we think someone will or won’t make a good president?”

    I would say that on an extremely partisan level, we think someone will make a good POTUS if and when:

    1. They agree with us on what are the pressing issues facing the United States today;

    2. Their solutions to these problems are ones we generally agree with;

    3. They are going to appoint people to the judiciary and other positions that we generally like and think will come out for what we want in legal cases especially highly contested ones.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      Add in, “has no major skeletons in the closet that would stop the process of things 1-3,” and you’ve got a candidate.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This was my thinking. What most of us want from a President is someone who will (effectively*) push our preferred agenda(s).

      * This is the detail in which the devil lies. What makes a President effective? I’d venture to say there is more than one way to skin that cat.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    As a crazy person, I’d kinda like it if there were a designated “Not A (Former) Lawyer” position on the SCotUS.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      What was Ken’s major again?

      I could see a certain sort of highly educated public intellectual in a role like this. Not so much going full-on populist, but I would not hyperventilate over an appointment of non-lawyer. I’d see it as a special snowflake situation and not a trend-setting statement, though.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

      There is no formal requirement that a SCOTUS Justice be a lawyer. But of the 112 Justices to have served on SCOTUS to date, every one of them has been an accomplished lawyer, well-studied in the law.

      I couldn’t find the first Justice who had a J.D. (sometimes called an A.B. or an Ll.M. in previous iterations of the degree) but I did find that the first Justice to have attended a specialized law school was Levi Woodbury (1845-1851).

      The last SCOTUS Justice to have been admitted to the bar without a J.D. was either Robert Jackson (NY bar, 1913), who completed law school in 1912 but was denied a J.D. because he was only 21 years old at the time (NY bar, admitted 1913) or Stanley Reed (Kentucky bar, 1910), who had studied law at both UVA and Columbia but dropped out without degree to study at the Sorbonne for a year in 1909. Reed was the last non-JD to be appointed (served 1938-1957); Jackson was the last non-JD to serve (served 1941-1954, with most of 1946 off duty to conduct prosecutions of Nazis at Nuremburg).

      Of the Justices to have ever served, only five — James Iredell (served 1790-1799), Thomas Johnson (1792-1793), Samuel Chase (1864-1873, CJ), John Clarke (1916-1922), and James Byrnes (1941-1942) — had no formal classroom legal education. All five of them “read into the law,” which as a relatively common way of gaining admission to the bar in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

      Now, do we really need to have it such that we draw all our SCOTUS Justices from only two (or maybe three) law schools? The Crimson leads the current head count with six alumni on the High Court, and the Elis have three; at the moment, the Cardinal is ass-out but I think it’s well understood that a Stanford degree would be prestigious enough for whoever comes next.

      It’s not like law schools such as Michigan, Berkeley, Chicago, or Penn are seedy, disreputable places with substandard scholarship or a history of alumni that have possessed questionable moral character. But the last President to nominate an alumnus of a non-Top Three law school was Gerald Ford (John Paul Stevens took his J.D. magna cum laude from Northwestern Law in 1947). I think this has to do with the politicization of the nomination process, which traces back to the troubled last years of Abe Fortas’ tenure on the Court.

      Note also that it helps to be from the Eastern Seaboard: the state-of-origin of the Nine are Massachusetts (2), New York (2), Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, and California.Report

      • When I skim the nine bios, what strikes me is that, in addition to the law schools, how much of their adult lives in aggregate — say from law school on — have been spent in the BosWash urban corridor. I know that where I’ve lived has influenced how I think about problems. Maybe it’s just me, but I worry about the effect of having everything except that small part of the country be places that Supreme Court justices visit, but don’t live.Report

      • Mo in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @burt-likko Despite graduating from Columbia, Notorious RBG also went to Harvard. She only transferred because her husband moved to NYC.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        . All five of them “read into the law,” which as a relatively common way of gaining admission to the bar in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

        At lest one president did that too. Of course, if you ask some people, he was always violating the Constitution.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @mo I don’t even know Columia’s mascot, so I’ll stick with counting RBG as one of the Crimson.Report

    • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

      I just want one crazy lawyer on the Supreme Court.

      Because every court is better with pranksters on the bench.

      (Please don’t take this seriously, it would be a terrible idea).Report

      • Dave in reply to Kim says:

        We had one. His name was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. It not only took some sort of nutcase to draft his dissent in Lochner but also his opinion in Buck v Bell ranks among the worst of the worst.Report

  3. Kolohe says:

    Something I thought of in the last thread, but since it came up again, I’ll say it here.

    One of the earliest things Gates and Allen did was hire Steve Ballmer, a more traditional business guy with a college degree (though Ballmer did drop out of an MBA program to work at Microsoft), who was given the task to do the businessy corporatey things so the big picture guys could keep thinking deep thoughts. (and borrow the idea for the gui interface)Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

      There were enough powerful people at Apple who thought it needed a real, experienced CEO type at the top to force Steve Jobs out, (And almost kill the company.)Report

  4. North says:

    Hmm I’ll give it a whirl.

    To the general population/nation the President’s job is to:
    -Administrate the execute, make sure the various agencies do what the legislation that establishes them says they’re supposed to do and that they adhere to the budgets the legislature has laid out for them.
    -Respond to international threats/affairs and answer to the population for their decisions on that.
    -Manage the nations diplomacy much like they manage the nation’s defense.
    -Provide a final up/down veto point for legislation.

    To the average voter and your average partisan the President’s job is additionally to:
    -Set a general theme and provide centralized coordination on litigation goals for those parts of congress that the President’s party controls.
    -Run interference, coordinate opposition to and if necessary negotiate with the legislative priorities of those parts of congress controlled by the opposition.
    -Nominate judges that hew as closely to the legal philosophy and priorities of the Presidents party as possible while being acceptable enough to pass any opposition from congress and who also have sufficient gravitas that their nomination does not damage the party in the eyes of the electorate.
    -Shape the operation and policy setting activities of the agencies of the government to move those agencies as closely as possible to the governing philosophy of the President’s party while staying minimally within the mandate provided for their existence by statute.
    -Be a positive and voter attracting face of his or her Party and strengthen party identification.

    That’s off the top of my head. I dunno what kind of degree you’d need for that. A degree in management, wheeling’n dealing and PR maybe? Is there a master’s degree on delegation?Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    A lot of people seem to confuse the role of President with Prime Minister and expect that any President can get all of his or her legislative ideas passed through Congress. The fury over healthcare reform on the liberal/progressive side is a really good example. Many liberals thought that Obama could get Medicare for All through Congress because he is the President. People with better knowledge of the American political system thought otherwise.Report

  6. Chris says:

    I only care about the nominating judges and not going to war. Of course, presidents don’t not go to war anymore, so I have to settle for the nominating judges part.Report

    • dhex in reply to Chris says:

      thankfully all the judges nominated will support nearly any expansion of executive power, so…wait.


      • Chris in reply to dhex says:

        Yeah, I’m basically down to “will vote against attempts by states to restrict abortion access” as my only criterion for judges.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to dhex says:


        Does that more or less make you a single-issue voter with abortion access as your issue? I’m actually a little surprised by that. Not in a bad way. I just would have assumed other issues would be pretty high on your list as well. For instance, would you support the nomination of a judge who would vote against attempts by states to restrict abortion access but who would also vote to strike down those key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that we saw happen last term?Report

      • Chris in reply to dhex says:

        Kazzy, good point, though I admit I was naive enough to assume that the Voting Rights act was pretty safe. I’m mostly exaggerating here, though, as a way of saying they all suck.

        For president, I am a few issues voter, pretty much all of which are about SCOTUS appointments. I know the policies I would prefer are not going to be promoted, so I don’t bother worrying about them.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to dhex says:

        We all have views about how things should go, and no matter how nihilistic about politics a person may be candidates separate themselves based on those views. For some it’s a third party candidate. For others it’s a pure partisan loyalty vote. And in each case, the rationale – if articulated! – is that supporting that candidate brings us (as a nation!) closer to the ideals of the individual doing the voting. For my part, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the issues I really care about aren’t gonna be advocated by politicians, so the vote is based on “getting closer” logic, which is equivalent to the “least harm” logic that apparently defines most of the electorates choices when it comes to pulling the lever. So in that sense, I’m no different.

        I do think that court appointments are a really undervalued reason to vote for certain parties/candidates. Where we’re at right now, the courts have way more effect on policy than legislators do. Personally, I don’t see that changing for a very long time. So a vote in favor of amenable judicial appointments is probably better justified than a vote in favor of amenable legislation.Report

  7. Burt Likko says:

    As to the topic of the OP: what’s a President’s formal job description? Not what’s written in the Constitution, although that’s not entirely useless:

    The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. … [§]
    The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
    He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
    The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session. [§]
    He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

    By itself, that’s a fairly substantial portfolio:

      Execute the laws;
      Command the military;
      Appoint ambassadors, significant public officials, and judges;
      Consider and evaluate advice from subject-matter specialists in government;
      Dispense clemency;
      Negotiate treaties and other relations with foreign nations;
      Assess the nation as a whole to advise Congress on needful legislation;
      Convene and dismiss Congress in times of emergency.

    Now as it happens, a tremendous amount of time is spent on that fourth bullet point, “Consider and evaluate advice from subject-matter specialists in government” since that includes both exercising the regulatory power and it informs the formation of top-level policies.

    An innovation since the time Article II was drafted is the Civil Service System. Most of the people who do the on-the-ground execution of the laws, the President’s principal duty, enter Federal service as careers in specific subject matter fields, and pursue those careers without much regard for the vagaries of politics that change who the people at the tops of their hierarchies are. Pretty much all that matters to them that happens up at the top are the interpretive and guidance policies about how to do their jobs: for prosecutors, what kinds of cases they should be pursuing; for law enforcement, what kinds of criminals they should be searching for and apprehending; for regulators, the prioritization of the problems within their ambit to address and the order of preference of various solutions at hand.

    Something a little more informal than what is formally articulated in the Constitution, but which only the most dim of people in the Federal Era would not have seen coming, would be that the President would fill a “Head of State” role, which is not so much an official governmental function but rather a social and symbolic one. The President personifies the United States both culturally as a nation and politically as the head of its government. When he speaks, it is seen as speaking on behalf of the country. So we demand a certain dignity and wisdom from him.

    But in terms of policy formation, as things really stand now, the President is supposed to be the top-ranking policy generalist in the government. He’s the guy who is supposed to know what all the policies are, at least in a general sense, and more importantly to understand how those policies will interact on the country as a whole when they are played out. In recent years, we’ve adopted the concept of a “policy Czar” (e.g., National Security Advisor, Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy) who would focus on a particular subject matter, but have a scope of oversight and activity that extends beyond the boundaries of particular agencies, so that person would occupy something of a middle ground between a policy specialist and a policy generalist, and make advising the President on those policies somewhat more easy and feasible.

    I recall that back in 2007, the complexities of conducting two major ground wars simultaneously really got to President Bush. He floated the idea of a “Czar of Czars,” or a “War Czar,” someone whose job it would be to integrate the ramifications of military policy, diplomacy, demands on the public fisc, balance political needs of states whose National Guard units were taxed to support the war efforts, assess the impact of the wars on national energy demand and fuel supply, and direct military operations at a strategic level, among other things. I also recall that at the time, my objection to this policy proposal was that this sounded pretty much like a job that already existed, a job held at that point by George W. Bush. But as it turned out, in the middle period of wars that at the time seemed doomed to be desultory quasi-failures and were quickly becoming hugely politically unpopular, no one actually wanted to hold the position of Official Scapegoat To The President When Things Don’t Go Quite As Swimmingly As Initially Advertised.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Also, that position exists. It’s the WH Chief of Staff. That he publicly aired his feeling of need for such a position is an indication of the incompetence of he person he had in that job, and his incompetence in filling it.Report

    • James K in reply to Burt Likko says:


      I agree, what the job of the President boils down to in practice is taking advice and making decisions. In The Prince, Machiavelli draws a distinction between people who are good at understanding things and people who are good at discerning other people’s understanding of things. Machiavelli thought the second kind of intelligence was more useful to a leader than the first, and I’m inclined to agree.Report

      • Kim in reply to James K says:

        Not at all. A leader, like any good negotiator, must understand the situation, and that involves reading all the cards in both hands.

        One can understand that someone is brilliant — and understands everything perfectly, and still let them drive your company to bankruptcy.Report

    • A Compromised Immune System in reply to Burt Likko says:

      My understanding is that the POTUS is not necessarily to have a ready-recall of every policy but instead to be able to sit down with the cabinet members or other experts, evaluate the existing policy and other information, and direct changes accordingly.

      For the Czar of Czars it says something about the incompetence of Bush43 to have suggested a need for such a position, but his incompetence is already legendary.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

      But in terms of policy formation, as things really stand now, the President is supposed to be the top-ranking policy generalist in the government.

      I agree with this. Consider the two most politically contentious policy initiatives credited to the two most recent Presidents: the PPACA and the invasion Use of Military Force in Iraq. Both policies were highly politicized and very complex initiatives to implement on the executive side. In each case, the fingerprints of the Decider in Chief will forever be linked to those policies – for better or worse – simply because the President is supposed to be (and in fact actually is) the top-ranking Decider. In each case, the policy could have gone any number of ways, and counterfactual analysis of the whys and wherefores of of course a target rich zone to clarify disagreements from those who opposed those policies or certain actions entailed during implementation, but all that seems part and parcel of a President’s role in our system of government. Consider Bush’s response to Katrina, or Carter’s response to high inflation as other relevant examples. Or Bush’s so-called “politicization of the justice department”. I’m sure the list is endless.

      But the point is that Presidents are the architects of policy within the executive branch, and in some sense of the scope of legislation arising from Congress. Of course, lots of legislation is small potatoes or based on partisan squabbling, and it’s not difficult to view the lack of a functioning congress as evidence that the really big stuff is already settled and largely agreed upon by both sides, leaving very little room for so called “major” legislation to gain traction. But the big stuff – or a bunch of small stuff that collectively move things in a specific direction – falls on the President, it seems to me.Report

  8. rexknobus says:

    Politics is quite beyond me, so how about:

    What kind of person would I like to see as President? That person should be:

    The smartest person in the room…any room. (not necessarily the most knowledgeable, given the wide range of subject matter, but smart enough to take advice)
    Ruthless, perhaps even mean, down deep…
    But smooth as silk — if a smile achieves the goal, then that’s the first strategy.
    Tough. (different from ruthless…can dish it out AND take it)
    Experienced. (been there; done that)
    Loves it. First one to speak, last one to leave.

    A junkyard dog with a Ph.D. in history/philosophy?

    Sounds a bit like Bill Clinton and both of the Roosevelts. Lincoln.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to rexknobus says:

      Or Frank Underwood.Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Good point. Should have thought of him. Granted, we have been given a terrific view of his inner snake, but how would he actually do as a President? We in the public would never be privy to his ice-cold thought processes (and, I have to assume, we’d never know about the girl and the train). If all we saw of Frank was all that we see of all of the rest of our presidents, what would we think of him?Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Actually, my examples were just drawn from the “previous president” file. I didn’t apply my sketchy criteria to any other category, including fiction. I’ll give those possibilities some thought.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to rexknobus says:

      It sounds like Nixon. Really.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        Mitt is not too far off.Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Kolohe says:

        @kolohe Nixon? I don’t see it. Smart guy, ruthless, loved it. But nowhere near smooth or tough. More like irritating and easily intimidated/broken.

        @mike-schilling Mitt? I’m not sure which Mitt to judge: the governor or the candidate. They seemed quite different. Never got a feeling of huge intelligence. Tough or ruthless? Didn’t see it. Loved it? Maybe, but he seemed to cave somewhat easily sometimes (see “governor vs candidate”).

        And as a bit of a clarifier (obviously lots of clarification could be done, but here’s a bit), the “experience” I mention isn’t really political to me. Life experience seems valuable. Everyone has it, but some folks have limited theirs to certain areas. Nixon did politics. Anything else? Spend some time abroad, preferably without a lot of money. Peace Corps? Sure. Marine Corps? O.k., but as an enlisted snuffie rather than an academy grad. Maybe a divorce or two. One good scar on the temple from a stupid bar fight at 18. Lots of love affairs. (Hey, I’m talking about my preferences in a president, not what will play to the base).

        And, of course, someone who reads voraciously.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        Nixon did smooth about as well as Obama does speeches. He could make you his friend simply by sitting with you – and he believed in that so much that he showed up next-to-midnight to talk to some anti-war protestors near the Washington Monument.
        Nixon could purr the catbird down.

        His style wasn’t “smooth and elegant” like Obama, but that’s not really relevant. Nixon gave the impression he was genuine (not that Obama doesn’t, but Nixon never really did urbane).Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        I meant Mitt the businessman and private citizen. He made a fortune in private capital, which is as dog-eat-dog as business gets. And so many stories about his personal life (his Mormon mission in France, helping his partner whose child was missing) amount to his stepping into a situation and taking control of it.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        I am very thankful we don’t have a ruthless Mitt Romney. You do realize he’s the equivalent of a Bishop, right?

        Mitt’s first and basically only strategy for personal interaction is to insult people. Horrible idea for a politician, but it works as a businessman — if you’re already the big cheese. Gets things done quicker, if you know what I mean.Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Kolohe says:

        @kim @mike-schilling Yeah, looks as if my ignorance/limited point-of-view problem is kicking in. It’s hard for me to think of Nixon as “smooth,” but I suppose he must have been to get where he got. And I know nothing about Romney that I didn’t see during his candidacy. But I will say that I would bet that “business ruthless” is different that “political ruthless”. Guys in ties in rooms vs. global strategy. I know business dealings can be horrendous, but everybody still goes home and has dinner afterwards. Presidents do things that change/end lives.

        And, yeah, I really do want a president who is ruthless. That ruthlessness, I would hope, would be tempered by the intelligence, experience, toughness, etc., that I’m fantasizing about, but I want the prez to be able to smack down the ruthless people advising him/her as well as take their advice. Ruthless isn’t mean, or small, or single-minded, to me. It is the ability to overcome obstacles, even one’s own desires, in support of the better goal, at perhaps great cost, but with true dedication. Oh yeah, a fantasy, but it’s what I would like to see.

        A good writer is ruthless in this way. Any writer has characters, scenes, ideas, that are absolute favorites, but they simply must be eliminated for the sake of the whole project. It can be heart-breaking, but it’s a real ruthlessness that separates the writers from the typists.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        a ruthless man doesn’t hesitate to order assassinations, or torture, or half a dozen other things that would be Very Bad Ideas in the long run.

        Nixon was quite intelligent, but it was his ruthlessness that got us the EPA.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        you’ll have to clarify… what is your “wait what” referring to?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

        There were between two and four “wait, what”s in there.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        so, pi, then?
        Mitt Romney is a rather HighUp Mormon, from a “Well-Respected” Family (seriously, read his geneology, and then remember that geneology matters a lot to mormons).

        I’ve talked to a guy who followed Nixon on the campaign trail. Guy was a charmer in person — he worked for every vote he ever got.

        Don’t ask me about the scar from a barfight — that’s just rex.Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Kolohe says:

        @kim “Nixon was quite intelligent, but it was his ruthlessness that got us the EPA.”

        Actually, I think that is sort of my point. Switching to another issue — if Nixon had been a bit more ruthless, perhaps he would have stood against the tide and gotten our butts out of Vietnam sooner.

        Sounds a bit counterintuitive, but my reasoning goes this way: it was (the otherwise often ruthless) Johnson’s political cowardice that got us deeply into the mess, and it was Nixon’s waffling about without applying any real courage that kept us in for much of his administration. Some ruthless application of reason, logic, and arm-twisting would have stopped the whole thing sooner. The mealy-mouthed attempts to make political hay from both of those prez prolonged the torture.

        (Again I emphasize that I am fantasizing. They were both consummate politicians and that means going after the votes. If either of them had taken the positions I’m dreaming about, they might not have gotten elected or re-elected. A ruthless stance in favor of the obvious right choice would have cost them their next election, but saved the country a lot of grief. And yes, I think they both knew what the “right choice” would have been.)

        Johnson’s career- and party-damaging ruthlessness about civil rights was a marvelous thing.

        I’m really not stating this very well, but I’m trying to get at the fact that this ruthlessness of which I speak is just part of a package that includes some courage and knowledge and concern for the country’s future, not just a (to me less than courageous) ability to sit in an office and order killings on the other side of the globe.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        “Actually, I think that is sort of my point. Switching to another issue — if Nixon had been a bit more ruthless, perhaps he would have stood against the tide and gotten our butts out of Vietnam sooner.”

        US Troop levels in Vietnam per year

        1966 385K
        1968 536K
        —> Nixon takes office 1969 475K
        1970 335K
        1971 157K
        1972 24K
        1973 50 – not 50K, 50.

        It’s not to far off the Us troops in Iraq drawdown curve, maybe a year delayed (bu from a much higher baseline)Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Kolohe says:

        @kolohe Point well taken. It’s why I threw the word “sooner” in there. After the disaster that was 1968 and after Nixon’s election, things did commence to re-approach some sort of sanity. But it took years and a great deal of suffering that shouldn’t have happened. For the record, lots of folks, starting almost immediately at Nixon’s inauguration in 1969, started calling it “Nixon’s War.” I’m no fan, but even at the time I thought that was unfair.

        And the comparison with Iraq is pretty apt. One big difference is that we aren’t far enough into the future to appreciate the full cost of that massive blunder.Report

    • Kim in reply to rexknobus says:

      Having a ruthless president is a dumb idea.
      You want ruthless people below him.
      Someone needs to be able to say “no, that’s a bad plan.”Report

      • Citizen in reply to Kim says:

        As the fella said, aggression will kill humanity. At some point I question the rationality of having aggressive leaders, or any leaders.

        The most important thing that POTUS does is step down. Leader of the free world has been a contradiction in terms since coined.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        without leaders, we’ll go nowhere.Report

      • Citizen in reply to Kim says:

        Nowhere, as in factioned into nations states trying to subjugate their own populations and hell bent on arms race that could wipe out all living things on the face of the planet?Report

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        nowhere, as in continuing to grub at the dirt and get paid to do meaningless labor that could be better done by robots.
        Not all leaders take the spotlight, but it does generally take a good shot of capital to make most big ideas work.Report

      • Citizen in reply to Kim says:

        Big ideas to what ends? What is the tangible value of a meaningful hour of human labor today versus 1000 years ago?Report

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        A lot more, perhaps surprisingly. Our logistics,in particular, have improved dramatically, which means that decision-making is vastly quicker and easier — and dare I say better?Report

      • Citizen in reply to Kim says:

        I do agree that we have evolved logistically, but we tend to constantly distance ourselves from the means of production of our own needs.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        You tend to. I smell the sulphur, and grant you have the better part of the bargain. Or do you think we ought to voluntarily kill ourselves to live near the site of production of products foul and reeking of death?Report

      • Citizen in reply to Kim says:

        I smell the wild mustard, bumper crop this year.Report