Paul Greenberg

One of the chief functions of a president of the United States is to serve as the focus of the nation's gripes. It was only to be expected that Barack Obama would be criticized even for taking a family vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

Me, I think the president ought to take more time off. The less he fiddles with the economy, the better it might do. Unfortunately, the president is always being urged to Do Something.

But what the poor, listless American economy could use most just now is a good leaving alone. Instead, it seems to get a new economic program every Tuesday and Thursday. Like a patient being dosed with one drug after another in rapid succession, each to counteract the previous one.

No wonder the general effect of Dr. Obama's unending nostrums has been a failure to thrive. Over-medication will do that.

Some of us are old enough to remember how much time Dwight Eisenhower spent on the links -- and the country was seldom in better hands.

Ah, the 1950s. In the perspective of history, all their tumult now fades and the Eisenhower Years now seem like a rest cure. As president, the old general may not have done much in particular, but he did it particularly well. The man was lazy like a fox. He knew when to do nothing, which is a rare talent in these entirely too busy days in politics.

The man everybody called Ike ended one war, stayed out of others, and mainly left the economy alone so it could grow without constant interference. Which it largely did, despite a down year or two. Resilient patients can heal on their own -- if they're not being constantly poked and prodded, given a diet of uppers one day, downers the next.

General Eisenhower must have found his two presidential terms a snap after planning and executing the D-Day invasion, not to mention having to handle both the Germans and Bernard Montgomery during the Battle of the Bulge.

As president, Ike faithfully executed the laws and became the very symbol of moderation in all things. Not a very exciting performance, but some of us would happily trade excitement for stability any time. Especially these dispiriting days.

The lesson of the Eisenhower Era: There is such a thing as salutary neglect. Maybe our current president should try it sometime.

To sum up my advice to this president, which I'm sure he waits for every day with bated breath:

Don't just do something, Mr. President. Stand there.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.