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

2 thoughts on “Penn Jillette on Who Should be President

  1. Well, I’m not sure how you end up thinking that Bush is …intelligent. Usually that carries with it the ability to see small difference and subtle meanings. It means you, say, may be willing to disagree with someone and NOT hate them or call them your enemy, of claim GOD is only on YOUR SIDE the whole “Either you’re with us or against us” thing.

    It means you have accomplished one thing in life, NOT tied to your family name and money.

    It means you excelled in school, maybe?

    If not, you dropped out to run Microsoft, or Google, not bankrupt many small time oil companies set up by your father.

    It means you just might use grammar and not be used by it.

    So All in all, while I can understand your ‘fear’ of a Government that watches over you (isn’t that what Bush has built by the way?) I’d say everything you put forth has to be questioned as you actually think good ol’ GW has a brain of his own. I wish it was the case, but there is not a single supporting piece of evidence, except perhaps for the unmitigated fear on his face when looking at that kids book when 9-11 started. That seemed to show someone who finally realized what it means to be a grown up, off the booze and coke and responsible for others. Of course then we invaded Iraq for no reason and Katrina proved to difficult a situation to manage well. So just goes to show you.

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for stopping by. I think this response set a record for time of post to first response. Congratulations!

    I see that you too are a well-nourished American citizen who has made a living and career out of drawing pictures. I for one am glad that President Bush has created and sustained an economy that enables someone like yourself to make a comfortable living doing little more than drawing pictures. You should be happy.

    PS–your criticisms sound very similar to things I have heard from liberal media types. I guess that means you have also learned the fine art of mimicry. Good for you!

    Yes, President Bush is so dumb that his father got him elected governor of Texas, made him owner of a major league baseball team, and had him elected president of the United States. He is also so dumb that he did was former pres. Clinton couldn’t do: Deal with terrorists and revive an economy that was built on the backs of phony dot coms. Clinton never would have won apart from that jackass third party candidate named Perot. Didn’t even get 50% of the popular vote!

    If you are representative of those who think President Bush is dumb, then I think it is safe to say that he is actually smarter than most of us thought.

    Good day,

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