As a rule, I don’t like to tell people how to do their job. After all, one minute you’re complaining about the way some waiter or plumber or truck driver is going about his business, and the next thing you know, one of these fellows is looking you in the eye, making a fist, and saying, “Oh yeah? If you think you can do better, wise guy, let’s see you try.” And then where are you? I’ll tell you where. You’re up the creek without a paddle and, for good measure, with egg on your face. The unfortunate truth is that it’s a lot easier to point out the incompetence of another than it is to improve on his performance.
What I find most fascinating about workers in America is that with the exception of professional athletes, the bigger the title and the heftier the paycheck, the easier the job seems to be. Even though some people bellyache about the money athletes make, they belong to the only true meritocracy that exists in our society. Only the 2000 or so greatest athletes in the world get to play professional baseball, football and basketball. Nobody is playing shortstop for the Yankees, power forward for the Supersonics or wide receiver for the New England Patriots because of who they know or because their father owns the team.
We might enjoy imagining ourselves being a sports hero, but unless we’ve lost all contact to reality, we’re well aware that it’s a boy’s fantasy. But do any of us truly believe we couldn’t run General Motors or CBS or sit on the Supreme Court and not do a better job than the monkeys who have those positions? Heck, do you honestly believe you couldn’t do whatever it is that Donald Trump or Rosie O’Donnell do, and not look a heck of a lot better doing it?
What puts me in this philosophical frame of mind is that the other day I sent President Bush an e-mail. Having done it a few times in the past, I knew I’d receive one of those automatic responses. I didn’t really expect to hear back from the man, but one always hopes. Just because I answer all of my e-mail, I can’t expect him to answer all of his. The chances are he receives more than I do. But why can’t he answer one once in a while? Why can’t he read and reply to, say, every thousandth e-mail or every ten thousandth? He just might learn something.
For instance, this is what I wrote to him:
“Dear Mr. President: It is high time you took on your foes, both in and out of the GOP.
“You should make a speech, demanding to know what the Pelosis and Murthas will say when, in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal they hope to see take place in Iraq, the terrorists inevitably turn the country into a Cambodian-style killing field.
“I do not understand why you have not yet taken the fight to the gutless, immoral pacifists. For some of us, one of the darkest moments in our past was the sight of that last American helicopter lifting off from the embassy roof in Vietnam, our allies reaching in vain for the struts of the aircraft. It amazes and disgusts me that so many Americans in and out of the Beltway apparently long to see that piece of ugly history repeated.
“What’s the point of having a bully pulpit, Mr. President, if you have no intention of using it? Sincerely, Burt Prelutsky.”
I happen to like George W. Bush. I think he’s the sort of guy I’d like to hang out with. In that regard, he seems a lot like Rudy Giuliani, another regular Joe who knows his baseball, and totally unlike an old sot like Ted Kennedy, an effete snob like John Kerry, a fish wife like Hillary Clinton or a one-note gas bag like Al Gore.
But whether I like him or not is beside the point. We saw in last November’s elections what comes of listening only to those people whose advice doesn’t elicit an automatic electronic response.
I mean, really, how much worse could it be if he listened to me this time around instead of to Karl Rove?