The Costanza Criterion
November 19, 2010 2 Comments
Quick note about Presidents. There is much hand-wringing about someone like Sarah Palin as regards whether she is ‘qualified’ or would or could be a ‘good President’ in this or that regard. To many the answer is obviously no. To a vocal minority the answer is abject fear if not downright hysteria at the prospect.
I’ve come to realize that the reason I do not share their concerns is not so much that I think someone like Palin would too make a ‘good President’ as that for the most part I find the concept of ‘good President’ to be near-oxymoronic in the first place. I think of a ‘President’ as someone whom we strap into the driver’s seat of a giant-sized steamroller (=the U.S. government) that is running loose in the middle of a beautiful, Edenic paradise, with the gearshift permanently stuck in ‘drive’ – and we tell him/her to steer. This can’t be done in a ‘good’ way because no matter which direction the President drives, things will get trampled, beautiful things. So there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ President. Presidents can only minimize the damage the steamroller causes. And that’s all I want.
So with that in mind, you will understand what I mean when I say that the actual list of things I want a President to actually go and do is a very, very short one. Meanwhile the list of things that I want for a President not to do is extremely, galactically long. Thus I am far more concerned about whether a President will actively do bad and wrong things than if he/she ‘wouldn’t be good at it’.
95% of what I want a President to actively ‘do’ can be summed up in one word: NOTHING. Call it the Costanza criterion.
There can be exceptions, but as a general rule, ‘qualified’ Presidents, Presidents who have all sorts of ‘policy experience’, and want to do all sorts of busyness and great things, make me nervous. You know what? After ‘stimulus’, ‘TARP’, Obamacare, TSA, etc., etc., I’m almost ready to say just for once give me a President and an administration with some damn common sense who will mostly just leave me the fuck alone.
And the thing is, guess what, it so happens that among the various public figures, the busybodies and self-serving careerists and nannies and egomaniacs we call ‘public servants’, Sarah Palin – whatever else her demerits – is practically a standout when it comes to common sense on many, many things. Perhaps that is more of a sad commentary about politicians as a class than is it praise of Palin per se – in fact I’m sure of it – but if you think it’s an absurd or ludicrous statement because of how ‘stupid’ Sarah Palin is, then I would contend you simply pay dangerously (and naively) little attention to other public figures and the damage their sociopathic narcissism, not to mention their ‘policies’ and oh yes their oh so impressive ‘qualifications’, can cause to ordinary people.