— Martin Van Buren
Eighth U.S. president
My fellow Americans, if I were president ... well, let’s just say it might not be pretty.
The thought came to mind as we approach Inauguration Day for President Barack Obama who will take his second oath of office as U.S. commander-in-chief on Monday. It’s a fitting day for making history, not only for the Obamas and their extended U.S. family, but for a man who once dreamed of witnessing such a heartwarming event.
Not only does Monday signal the swearing in of a U.S. president, it also is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
These events are marking the first time in a history of Mondays that this traditionally torturous weekday is enjoying such strong favor among Americans.
As happy as I am for the president, and as pleased as I am that one of Dr. King’s dreams is again coming true, I still have to ask myself, “Who would actually want to be president?”
I don’t even think as a kid I wanted the job. Might have been the house. Just too big. You could walk half a day without running into somebody you know. And all that furniture? Who’s in charge of dusting? And that acreage called floors? They’re not gonna mop themselves.
But just for the sake of dreaming, just for the chance at friendly conversation ... what would I do if I were president?
It’s not a novel thought. At one time or another in our lives, most Americans have probably asked themselves the same question.
“What if I were president? What would I do?”
Most dismiss the concept without a flinch.
But, “What if ...?”
Here’s my bucket list of presidential actions. Whether by Congressional vote, Executive Order or the sheer will of the people, here are a few high-priority items I’d get implemented, in no particular order of personal preference:
1. Reduction of the workweek to four days and only in two cycles — either Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday. No messing with the weekends.
2. For men, the permanent banishment of neckties; for women, the irreversible exile of shoes with toes too pointy and heels too high. Standards in each category will be determined by each state government. For those jurisdictions unable to reach consensus, a slate of federally approved measures will be imposed.
3. Outlawing of needless, mindless and heartless violence within the video game industry. Appeals will be limited to never or only if you-know-what freezes over.
4. Implementation of a “Too Tall Hoop” rule in the NBA. Players today are so tall and they jump so high that gorilla dunks are just too much the norm, making the game way too easy. Under my regime, the basket height will be raised from 10 feet to about 15, maybe more. Nike, Reebok and New Balance, better start putting more rubber in your soles.
5. Implementation of a “Too Tattooed” rule in all professional sports. Any athlete, man or woman and regardless of sport, with tattoo coverage of more than 75 percent of total skin will be disqualified from participation.
6. Decibel level of TV commercials will be disallowed from exceeding the pre-set volume of regular programming. Under my administration, and once and for all, the days of ear-piercing, drum-bashing, electronic advertising will end. Previous attempts have failed. Mine will not.
7. A bill code-named “Project Potty Mouth” will minimize the use of profanity in movies by requiring all Hollywood scriptwriters — ALL, no grandfathering — to complete training on how to write dialogue with limited use of colorful descriptives.
8. Buttermilk will be removed for soured eternity from all grocery store shelves and cows will be forcibly restrained from its continued production; this one I had to ponder before committing it to print ... because, after all, some folks do like the stuff. I do not. I have tried through annual tastings. I still do not. Sorry. But I am the president.
9. Republican and Democratic parties WILL work together. They will talk. They will compromise. I will not ask that they like each other, but I will demand they respect one another’s values. ALL deliberations will be FOR the American people, not the party. Any party that does not play fair nor do right will cease to be a party.
10. One pair of rose-colored eyeglasses will be required in every home. Their purpose is not to diffuse reality, but to infuse potential.
11. “Hate” will be the first four-letter word disenfranchised from the English language. Anyone practicing its atrocities based on race, class, culture, religion, gender and anything else that defines humanity will be met with repercussions, swift and severe.
12. Leaders within the gun-control debate — those for and those against, including the NRA and the loved ones of shooting victims — will be locked inside a conference room of neutral locale for legitimate debate, face-to-face and in the presence of NO news media (not even Oprah), and the doors will NOT be opened until a resolution of mutual satisfaction is reached. No stalemates. No filibusters. No excuses. Answers ... just answers. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Well, that about does it.
As I descend from my pedestal, I will repeat from this column’s opening, “... If I were president, it might not be pretty.”
Most likely, other presidents have wanted to take similar actions, but could not because it would not be politically correct.
I guess that makes me incorrect.
But that’s OK, because I am not real.