Bob Thomas: Grooming our ideal future presidents
October 4, 2012
In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a U. S. president who had, or has, the ideal combination of work experience and education prior to being elected. Let’s consider the following criteria and see what we come up with:
Commander in Chief: This title suggests that our ideal president should have had military experience. I find it oxymoronic to give supreme military authority to a president who has never served in our armed forces. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam War is the prime example of disastrous consequences when inexperienced presidents insist on playing “general.” Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton had zero military service too, but both were smart enough to avoid second-guessing our generals. I believe our military respected them.
Franklin Roosevelt, president during World War II, caused devastating military blunders in favor of the Soviet Union because he consistently overrode his generals with political decisions. Barack Obama has zero first-hand military experience, and he allows his lawyer-ridden staff to meddle in military affairs. I don’t believe our military respects Obama.
Executive Experience: Because government is structured like the military, from the top down, subordinates do what they are told. Without a profit or job-saving motive, what does it matter if subordinates disrespect their bosses and work halfheartedly? In the private sector, bad morale directly affects lost production which not only hurts profits but puts jobs at risk. To avoid that, private-sector managers soon learn that employees respond positively to being led, not commanded. Successful managers earn their employee’s consent to being managed.
Obama has zero private or public sector management experience and it shows in everything he tries to do. He relies on executive orders instead of leading Congress because he doesn’t know how. But when he is selling to the great unwashed he has no peer, especially when influencing women. Our ideal president should have private sector executive experience.
Formal Education: Degrees in political science and law are of zero value to our ideal president. Laws are the purview of Congress and the Judiciary, but even representatives in Congress don’t write their own laws. Lawyers are abundant in both the private and public sectors so legal advice is readily available. The president’s operating staff should not be lawyers, either.
As a private-sector CEO, I’ve found lawyers to be woefully lacking in versatile leadership. They don’t know a thing about sales, marketing, manufacturing, purchasing, engineering or cost control, so why should they be CEOs, or the president or governor for that matter? Obama’s zero experience outside of academic politics speaks for itself.
I’m convinced the most useful and versatile formal education for our ideal president would be majoring in liberal arts. That major cements communications between the broadest levels of people and opens Western Civilization and world history in all its glory. And should he or she choose Hillsdale College, the finest liberal arts college of them all, he or she will learn more about our U. S. Constitution than in law school.
Coupled with the liberal arts major should be a minor in general science, which in this day and age would be indispensable. Tomorrow’s presidents will be the targets of more hi-tech misinformation from all sides than ever before. Our ideal president must have knowledge and seldom rely on advisers. There is no reason for an advanced degree. We need versatile presidents, not specialists.
What about foreign policy? That can be learned on the job. It’s no mystery. Pursue whatever is in our best interests. Can any of you remember a single State Department triumph? Have we averted any wars or Islamic uprisings? Negotiated cease fires? Our ideal president should avoid college subjects that prepare people for government service, foreign or otherwise. Harvard is notorious for producing state department bureaucrats and politically influential diplomats. The farther our president can distance him or herself from academic foreign policy junkies the better off he or she will be.
Are there other attributes that our ideal president should have? Oh, yes: Integrity, high energy level, strong work ethic, Judeo-Christian values, patriotic, tough and frugal. Do any of today’s candidates qualify? No, we will once again compromise. But Mitt Romney comes much closer than does Barack Obama.
• Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board, the airport authority and as a state assemblyman. His website is http://www.worldclassentrepreneur.com.