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Column: President Not Equipped To Deal With All The Changes We Want

This story was written by Nick McCrea, The Maine Campus


The U.S. presidency is easily one of the hardest jobs on the planet.Think about it: Who on Earth is expected to do more in the course offour years for a population of more than 300 million than thepresident? In fact, it may be flat-out impossible for a modern U.S.president to be considered completely successful and effective in hisor her position.

Every single U.S. president - at least since F.D.R. - left officewith a lower approval rating than when they started - with theexception of our buddy Bill Clinton. Harry S. Truman came into officewith a rating of nearly 90 percent. He left with the approval of justmore than 30 percent - it dipped to 22 percent at one point. After theterrorist attacks of 2001, just under 90 percent of the publicsupported George W. Bush's reactions and decisions. Since then, hisrating has dipped into the 20s.

Why does the public's support change so drastically? It's becausethe structure of the presidency makes it impossible for him or her todo what the public would view as a "good job."

Presidents today are expected to fix everything - the economy, theenvironment, the energy crisis, foreign affairs, conflicts, partisanstalemates - and find the cure to cancer in their free time. The resultis that presidential candidates promise to eliminate all theseproblems, and after the election, the public backs them, expecting themto save the world and turn it into an utopia. After a couple of years,the public realizes things aren't getting done and support plummets.

Call me a pessimist, but no president will ever fix the world -whatever that means. They may get an issue or two ironed out in theirfour or eight years in office, but that will be about it. It's just notwhat the office was created to do.

The Founding Fathers created the Office of President to act as acheck on Congress and vice-versa. He was also meant to be the commanderin chief of the armed forces, receive foreign dignitaries, grantpardons and be sure the laws of the U.S. were faithfully executed;that's it. Congress was meant to be the primary force of power in U.S.politics, while the president was more a figurehead.

It's funny how things work out. Every president since GeorgeWashington has done something to expand and add to the powers of thepresidency. Through the gradual addition of powers, the presidentbecame the political powerhouse, probably against the wishes of thefounders.

All presidents want to do a lot. They all have the best interests ofthe country in mind, but expectations are just too high. The presidentand his staff can't solve the thousands of national and globalproblems. They don't have the resources. Partisan politics,congressional disagreements, constitutional restrictions and termlimits are all hindrances to a president's efforts to accomplish theirgoals - and they will never live up to the public's expectations.

So take it easy on our next president. Hopefully he will beeffective enough to put duct tape on things that can't be fixedpermanently and will find solutions to at least a few of our problems.I guarantee, however, that the next president will leave office fouryears from now less loved than when they started.

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