Sunday
May 28, 2017

Have a smile — Below the Beltway

Monday, March 20, 2017

Setting a bad president

By Gene Weingarten
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — I was having lunch the other day with Mary Ann, an old friend and colleague who once ran the legal department at The Washington Post. Back then, Mary Ann was always the adult in the room, the person whose judgment went unquestioned because everyone understood that she was always right, even if you knew her well enough to also know she had an ironic sense of humour about being considered the adult in the room. She wound up retiring early to paint artwork. She remains thoughtful and decisive and deeply compassionate. She has volunteered at a hospice. She radiates both self-confidence and humility. At lunch I found myself thinking, idly, that Mary Ann would be a better president of the United States than the current president of the United States. It was an odd moment, really, because how often are you actually in the presence of someone about whom you could honestly say that?
So, that got me thinking some more about people who would be better presidents than the current president. The names and faces flowed, unbidden, into my head, and I couldn’t make the haemorrhage stop.
To my alarm, I had to conclude that my editor, Tom the Butcher, would be better. It is true that Tom is a pestilence. He will frequently telephone me, but by the time I say hello, he has forgotten why he called. Sartorially, he makes Steve Bannon look like a guy in Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine. Tom doesn’t walk, he shambles. He is an old fart who, if he does not get to bed by 9pm, has to call in sick the next day. And yet... and yet he is a fundamentally decent man who does not seem to be in the thrall of foreign dictators. And I have personally witnessed him read, and seemingly comprehend, entire paragraphs.
Then my mind went to a guy whose name I don’t know but who has stood outside in downtown Washington for years, jingling a foam cup and jauntily saying “Nickels? Dimes? Quarters?” Like the president, the guy is a workaholic. He’s there every day. Like the president, he is nattily dressed. But unlike the president, he has adapted to the times. A few years ago, as the economy strengthened, he wisely added “A dollar?” to the end of his litany. It was bold. Our president seems still mired in the Industrial Revolution. You get the sense he’d like to reinstitute the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, and sweatshops.
OK, you probably know where I am going here. So, yes, I thought about my dog, Murphy, and, no, I am not being ridiculous. I acknowledge she is unqualified for the job. But under the circumstances, the question becomes: how unqualified is she? Unlike the current president, she is a uniter. She brings people together. Strangers stop in the street to say hello. My only point is that if Murphy telephoned the prime minister of Australia, nothing bad would happen. Nothing good would happen either, but, altogether, that is a plus. A net gain.
And finally, because this was the natural flow of things, I had to consider my cat, Barnaby. I decided to make a list of Barnaby’s good points, but after five minutes my list looked like this:
1. Handsome.
2. Barnaby is really stupid — he is, for example, forever falling into the toilet — but he partly conceals his stupidity with a nastiness and arrogance that seem to give him agency. He will accept stroking for about four seconds, and then he bites you. He has no ability to see himself as others see him; following each plunge into the toilet, he struts and preens, as though he’d meant to do it. He hates the media; newspapers exist only to be shredded. He is happy only when he is on the attack. He does not act his age. He is barely one year old but seems, emotionally, much younger.
In short, it’s pretty much a wash.w
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