Burt Prelutsky

I never wanted to be the President of the United States. And, quite frankly, I don’t understand why so many other people are anxious to move all their stuff into the White House. For me, the downsides far out-weigh the benefits, and I just wonder if all those folks who’ve tossed their hats into the ring have really given it enough thought.

Granted, on the plus side, if fame is what they seek, being president would make them even better-known than being a finalist on “American Idol.” Also, there’s no getting around the fact that presidents don’t have to wait as long as other people to get their phone calls returned or their plumbing repaired.

But it’s not all beer and skittles. For one thing, half the people in America -- those in the other party -- are convinced you’re an idiot. What’s more, you can kiss your privacy good-bye. Goldfish have an easier time keeping secrets. Just ask Bill Clinton. As if that’s not bad enough, political cartoonists will devote their considerable talents to making you look even worse than you already do.

Most of your waking hours will be spent in the company of other dreary politicians, not to mention a vice-president who will take far more interest in the state of your health than your doctors do. If that’s not bad enough, you have to be civil to even the most obnoxious members of the media, such as Helen Thomas, Bill Maher and Chris Matthews.

When running for office, you will not only have to go hat in hand to every millionaire who ever bought a seat at a political dinner, but you will have to engage in debates, as if you were running for class president of your high school, knowing full well that you’ll be judged less on what you say than by how you look on TV. If your answers come too quickly, you’ll be dismissed as glib or overly-rehearsed. If you take your time answering, you’ll be written off as slow-witted, and if the hot lights make you sweat, it will remind people of Richard Nixon.

Recently, the AP asked some of the candidates questions of a more personal nature than they’re accustomed to hearing. John McCain, for instance, confessed to having 22 pets. The only ones identified in the story I read were a couple of turtles. The fact that their names are Cuff and Link would almost provide me with ample reason not to vote for the man. But I have no way of knowing if he’s the guilty party or if he delegates such matters to Mrs. McCain.