Obama enjoys being president, and he especially treasures the symbolic significance of being the first African-American president. That’s how his supporters feel, too. I haven’t heard anyone defend his actual performance in a long time, but there is still widespread satisfaction with the symbolic value of his presidency. So why don’t we make him king? If being the first African-American president has symbolic value, just think what it would mean for the first King of the United States to be African-American! Plus, Michelle would be a queen and Malia and Sasha would be princesses. How cool would that be?
It’s a clever bit of snark, and you should read it all.
I was actually a lot more serious when I made a similar suggestion back in ’09:
I suspect that what Obama wanted was to be the King, not the President. The King’s role is largely ceremonial. In time of national tragedy the King goes before the camera and says, “this is very sad.” If he can assign blame on a perceived enemy he does so, and then he steps aside and retires to his amusements while those actually in charge clean up the mess and determine how to prevent future messes. Everyone loves the King, defers to the King, rushes to do for the King, but the King -who tends to get bored and distracted by the dry business of actually governing- is responsible for very little, and most are just as glad of it.
If a King is on vacation and his country encounters an critical issue, he knows there is no need to come jetting back to the palace, because the Prime Minister is taking care of reality. All the King needs to do is -in a day or three- show up at a microphone in casual dress and do the PR work of expressing concern over the issue and confidence in the government. The King can command instant coverage, even if there is only time for audio.
A King does not worry, so much, about representative governance, since it is irrelevent to his standing.
Sadly, though, America is not in need of his Kingship.
America needs a good old-fashioned President.
Actually, I might have suggested it even earlier:
The forced definition of the American Presidency is sitting very uncomfortably with Barack Obama. There is nowhere to hide; there are no further personae to be invented and presented. The Jekyll and Hyde who has been singing endless encores of “This is the Moment” to America for nearly three years, has finally come upon a real moment, an authentic crossroad: he must now materialize into a defined entity with a known vector. Will that entity choose to define himself by a willingness to help a nation of free and energetic dreamers sustain the most exceptional and productive dream in history? Or will it choose to remain the poorly-marked outline of an aching, light-consuming void, delivering nothing but silence?
Until Barack Obama decides who he is, we cannot know him, and he cannot know America. And until he knows America, he cannot begin to understand the good-faith majority of us, who are longing not for a god, not for a king, but for a president worthy of our trust.
And even earlier!
Seems like I haven’t written much about Obama in a while. He is not even in my Tag-cloud.
That’s not really surprising; he makes me tired.
But I’d still like him to answer this question!
UPDATE: The King is Not Amused
UPDATE II: Not King, just President of China