Penn Jillette on Who Should be President
I happened across this stupid (you’ll understand in a minute why I said ‘stupid’) commentary from Penn Jillette, magician, comedian, actor, author and producer (should tell us all we need to know about his opinion and why he is ‘qualified’ to write this op-ed for CNN), that I had hoped would prove to me that many of the folks in Hollywood really don’t deserve much of an audience when it comes to politics. The headline reads: “Last Thing We Need Now is a Great Leader.” And yet as I read, prepared for the worst, I found myself strangely attracted to this essay…
…I’m teetering on the brink right now, but…I think I actually…happen…to sort of agree with his point of view. I disagree profoundly that our current president is stupid and that Obama is ‘way smarter’ than the President:
Obama is a great leader. He can fire people up and get them to do what he wants. He does smart speeches that promise everyone everything they need and make us feel good about our country and how much greater our government could be.
Obama has never led anyone, anywhere, and take away his teleprompter and he’s not a very good speaker either. At least Hilary could speak off the cuff. Obama is annoying and I wish the election were over so that he could go away–although if past liberal losers are any indication of what ‘going away’ means then I will likely have to endure more from Obama after the election too. None of these things qualify Obama as a great leader. Charisma and popularity are meaningless traits for leadership; great traits for getting elected.
But Jillette then wrote this:
But I don’t think our next president being a great leader is a good thing.
I’m worried about someone smarter than Bush taking over that tremendous power. Charisma and ambition increase my fear exponentially, and a great leader scares me to death.
We need someone stupid enough to understand that the president of the United States can’t solve many problems without taking away freedom and therefore shouldn’t try. The only reason John McCain scares me a little less is because I think he’s a little less likely to win. They both promise a government that will watch over us, and I don’t like that.
I don’t want anyone as president who promises to take care of me. I may be stupid, but I want a chance to try to be a grown-up and take care of my family. Freedom means the freedom to be stupid, and that’s what I want. I don’t want anyone to feel my pain or tell me to ask what we can do for our country, or give us all money and take care of us.
Gene Healy at the Cato Institute explains that the Founding Fathers wanted the president “to faithfully execute the laws, defend the country from attack and check Congress with the veto power whenever it exceeded its constitutional bounds.”
That sounds like plenty to me. You gotta be smarter than me to do all that, but you don’t have to be as smart as Obama, and you sure don’t have to be a great leader.
Our first seven presidents averaged a bit more than three public speeches a year, and they didn’t promise jobs for everyone, day care, dental exams and free stuff.
It’s really hard to find someone who trusts Americans to take care of themselves and each other without government force. It’s hard to find someone running for president who would be content to be what George Washington humbly called the “chief magistrate.”
You know, normally Jillette’s politics and point of view irritate me, but this time I have to say I agree: “The choice shouldn’t be which lesser of two evils should have the enormous power of our modern presidents. The question should be, who would do less as president? Who would leave us alone?”
There is a lot in that sentence that resonates deep within me. The only difference is that Jillette thinks Obama is the lesser and I think it is McCain. Nevertheless, I very much agree with Jillette that the next president should go out of his way to leave me alone, leave my money alone, leave my family alone and concentrate on other things like his golf game or whatever.
HT: Atheism Central