Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Crisis of American Leadership: The North Korean Solution

There is a sentiment in American politics nowadays that before Watergate, before scandals, before betrayals, there was a simpler time when we could trust our leaders. And if history has taught us anything, it is taught us that is complete and total crap. Americans have never trusted their politicians, and with good reason: our politicians are usually lying, cheating bags of shit. The crisis of American leadership is that there never has been leadership.

What is needed is a radical departure from the philosophy of the American political system. Not in the organization of the government, but how we look at it. Consider North Korea. Kim Il Sung led the wacky reds above the 38th parallel for near fifty years until his death in 1994. The country was expecting to starve to death as a whole long before Kim Il Sung died, so this development came as a bit of a shock. Left with his son Kim Jong Il as the heir to the throne, the country faced a crisis. Of leadership. Kim Jong Il was a movie buff, a fun loving fellow that didn't quite fit the serious, brinkmanship mentality of the state. So the North Koreans came up with the perfect solution: elect Kim Il Sung the president for all eternity, four years after his death.

There are advantages and disadvantages to electing a corpse as your eternal president. The corpse could never be implicated in a scandal, and would never betray the American people's trust. An eternal president would keep America based firmly in our traditions and rich heritage, comforting us in times of change with one constant force. Granted, the dead often lack insight in times of trouble, cannot be counted on for visionary legislation, and would require costly refrigeration. An acting president could be used, much like the "dear leader" Kim Jong Il in North Korea. This person would be elected by Electoral College, or even popular vote. I would urge a more neutral term like acting president since the American electoral system generally results in almost half of the country despising the "dear leader." With a little nod to the hermit kingdom, we could have a president that is free to govern and a head of state that will never let us down. The experiment to have both of these roles fulfilled by one official has failed.

So the question we are now left with is where to find this eternal president. The obvious solution is to continue in the footsteps of North Korea and choose one of our great former leaders. Let's go to Mount Rushmore. Operating left to right, George Washington: a man whose claim to fame was crossing a river to slaughter drunken Germans on Christmas night; Thomas Jefferson: our first sex scandal president; Theodore Roosevelt: a man who wrote the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine to the effect that since Europe wasn't allowed to subjugate Latin America then the United States would have to; and Abraham Lincoln: a tyrant who waged a devastating war of conquest against the states who exercised their right to secede from the Union.

It was not just the great presidents that had their dark sides; all of them had problems. Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk. John F. Kennedy slept around. Harry S Truman swore like a sailor. James Madison stood all of 5 foot 4. James Buchanan killed 57 people and buried them underneath his home. [ed note: James Buchanan did not kill 57 people and bury them underneath his home. That was Pat Buchanan.]

In short, we could never find our eternal president in Washington, D.C. We drained a swamp for the future site of our federal government because we knew even then we'd despise everyone we put there. If not D.C., then where? Where do we have dead people still beloved in the public eye, untarnished from the muck, grime, and slander? Hollywood.

Americans love actors. They fulfill our every ideal of leadership: integrity, charm, wit, and the ability to leap from exploding buildings without a scratch. And we can rely on that perfect image barring an E! Network True Hollywood Stories episode.

We had the right idea when we elected Reagan, we were just too early. If we had waited until he passed away, then we would have had all of the warm, fuzzy feelings of watching him smile, talk and nod off without all of the Iran-Contra, arms race irresponsibility, and deficit spending unpleasantness.

Turning to Hollywood for America's eternal president is not that easy, though. Many of the icons suitable for deification just don't carry the right message. John Wayne was too tough, Jimmy Stewart too nice, Steve McQueen too cool, Claude Rains too French. Katherine Hepburn would make an excellent choice. She had a legendary strength, bright, funny, and a certain attractive aristocracy about her. However, I don't think America is ready for a female eternal president yet. She should definitely be considered for eternal secretary of state, and be placed on the short list should we choose an eternal president at a later date.

It's hard to think of a candidate for eternal president more qualified than Cary Grant. You have to respect a man who said, "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant." He had good cheekbones, this was a man you want to see on newsreels and posters. I mean, I might be okay with a 1984 lifestyle if Big Brother looked like Cary Grant. He had an easy going charm, like Ronald Reagan if Reagan could act. True, he lacked Reagan's deft political instinct and ability to reduce any situation to a simple, easy to understand conflict between good and evil, but Grant was able to traverse Mount Rushmore while being shot at. Cary Grant also had a voice that would make weekly radio addresses a pleasure, but he was born in England, so he's out.

This brings us to Humphrey Bogart. There is no perfect choice for eternal presidency, but Bogey might be as close as we will ever come- tough, slick, funny, and looked good in a fedora. Detractors will say that Bogart was too morally ambiguous in life to lead the country in death. Many others will argue that he was far too ugly, with deep bags under his eyes and a five o'clock shadow to rival Nixon. Well, to the latter charge it must be pointed out that a man cannot be ugly if he gets Lauren Bacall, by definition. As for the moral ambiguity, keep in mind that Bogart had to fight the Nazis and/or Peter Lorre on multiple occasions. It is to be expected that he will say things like, "When you're slapped you'll take it and like it," before beating the crap out of Lorre. Bogart lived in an amoral underworld, working among the criminals, thugs and scum. If that isn't the perfect politician, then piss off, because he is the best we can do.

Humphrey Bogart for Eternal President
and may God have mercy on our souls

4 comments:

Ɯbermilf said...

I have another solution: complete and total anarchy.

Kat said...

Or come to Canada and vote pot er um I mean Green Party.

B.E. Earl said...

Wow. That was a long post.

I'm gonna have to read it one of these days. ;)

I'm all for Bogart as President, but not the Bogie from African Queen. He was kind of a whiner.

slappy said...

Ubie: Would that be like the Mad Max movies? Because if so, awesome.

Kat: When did Canada become ten times cooler than the USA? Was it recently or did we just never notice?

Earl: What, you think I can save America in under 1000 words?

I never got African Queen. The movie bored me.