The sagacious editorial page of the Wall Street Journal raised this question the other day of a too-little-noticed point concerning the long-running Herman Cain affair.
The Journal addressed the much-discussed question of "why we don't have 'better candidates.'" Take a guess. "Because no normal person would risk it."
On the nose! No "normal" person, for the privilege of leading the United States of America, would subject himself, I hereby suggest, to:
-- Constant exposure to the public eye.
-- Relentless and regularly unfair criticism by opponents.
-- Minute analysis of philosophy, background, campaign strategy, family relationships, friends, personal finances, religious affiliations, birth certificates, etc.
-- Unceasing pressure to beg for money over the telephone.
-- Daily life in motels and hotels.
-- Uninterrupted conversation with people whom only care and think about politics.
-- Lack of access to normal people, save under abnormal circumstances.
But those are enough reasons, aren't they? Enough, certainly, to affirm the Journal's point with loud acclamations. Normal people don't behave this way.
"We have no idea," says the Journal editorial, "if this is why so many prominent Republicans -- Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels -- decided not to run despite a vulnerable incumbent and a weak GOP field. But we understand if it were the reason."
The presidential selection process is out of whack -- as, to be sure, are many things relating to politics and government, both at the national and the state level. That the 2012 presidential campaign has gone on throughout 2011 and has another year to run, is one vital piece of the evidence. You don't need this long to pick a president. Unless, the picking of the president has become somehow the most important thing Americans do: more important than forming families, looking for work, buying homes, getting through school and college and/or saving for retirement.
Which may be the case. If indeed this is the case, it shows what really is wrong with America -- to wit, our common dependence on presidents and Congresses for satisfaction of needs and performance of duties once thought to lie generally beyond the scope of government.
No more. The federal government, with its laws and programs and mega-spending, touches everything in daily life, without exception. This is why the presidency matters even more than when Franklin Roosevelt goosed up its power to levels previously unexplored.