Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 1, 2012

Thoughts on the office of President

By Gelene Simpson
Corsicana Daily Sun

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With the Presidential election so much in the news, I’ll put my foot in my mouth about some things related to the presidency. You see, I have always thought that FDR ought to be up there somewhere close to Washington and Lincoln on the list of great presidents. Please don’t write and tell me why you disagree. If you blame him for some of the messes we are in today, just as many people probably praise him for getting us out of the mess we were in back then. Nearly all our past presidents got us into some  kind of predicament because, after all, they were only human beings and not Monday morning quarterbacks.

If you have ever been president of any organization, no matter how small, you realize some of what the President of the United States has to face. You go into office with high hopes and often with the momentum to think you can really “lift that rubber tree plant” only to find that some part of your body or general health has failed you or that you don’t actually have very much control over the life and death of your loved ones. Seldom does anyone have smooth sailing throughout the term of office, and some have more than enough tragedies to fill a whole lifetime befalling them within the brief span of two to four years.

Natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, and fires can scatter your documents all over the territory, and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do about it except to take a deep breath and start all over again. Also, if you think that being president of a small group is going to prevent anyone from trying to sue you or even assassinate you, forget that. Remember that  you don’t have the Secret Service at your command. And even if you did, they can’t prevent every catastrophe. If they could, we wouldn’t have the unhappy event at Ford’s Theater or the heartbreak of the JFK memorial.

Like our present Commander-in-Chief, you may  have taken on a responsibility of leadership with plans to restructure the status quo. Then, lo and behold, someone pulled the rug out from under you, and you found yourself trying to maintain your balance in an area that was definitely not of your choosing. This seems to happen most often to those who didn’t really seek an office but were pressed into service because no one else wanted the job or because, as in the case of some elected officials, name recognition played an important role.

Being president of any organization is sometimes a rather thankless position. I could compare it in some ways with the profession of teaching English. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me, “I wouldn’t be an English teacher for anything.” To me, this meant that the job required too much paperwork, too many people to be responsible for and to, and too many details to keep a handle on at the same time.

One of the most uncomfortable aspects of leadership is the numerous ways in which one can be held up to ridicule. Everyone else who has had the particular office before, feels free to give advice about how to do the job properly, and sometimes the conflicting advice causes a stumbling block to one’s own agenda. But the worst criticism to swallow comes from those who have not been elected to the office but still aspire to it.

“Woulda, shoulda, coulda” come into play when it is not really cricket for them to do so. The words that spring to the lips most naturally are, “Well, if you think you can do any better, just get up here and do it!”

But, of course, that is not possible without a general upheaval of the powers that be. So you have to learn to grin and bear it. And it helps if you can poke fun at yourself and whatever foibles are part of your particular makeup.

Considering all the drawbacks to being the president of anything, it’s a wonder that anyone wants the job, let alone “runs” for it. I say that those who have the guts to tackle this office, with all the possible calamities which await both in and out of the oval office, deserve to have our respect and remembrance for the time and effort they spent in getting into the office, all the flack they have to dodge while holding the office and all the criticism that future generations will heap upon them even after they have vacated the office and lie “moldering” in their graves.

I hope that the citizens of this country will always show respect for the office of President of the United States of America.


Gelene Simpson is a Daily Sun columnist. Her column appears on Tuesdays. Want to "Soundoff" on this column? Email: