“You can appoint any American citizen to one term as president,” I wrote earlier this week, “so long as your choice has never run for president before. Who do you appoint to the White House and why?” Among politicians, Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, was mentioned most. Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Representative Stacey Abrams were tapped, too.
But we talk about politicians seeking higher office all the time, so I’ll focus on more unexpected choices. Their names are less interesting than the attributes different correspondents want in a president.
Nancy eases us away from politicians with the adjacent pick of Michelle Obama:
She’s brilliant, pragmatic, and fearless.
Her biggest success would be bringing the real people back into the discussion (i.e. ordinary people who are not old white males or people who spout the lies because it seems safer).
Her biggest failure would be not being able to keep the Supreme Court from devastating the rights of people to control their own lives (women, non-Cis-gendered, non-Christian).
Austin makes a case for the public-radio host Kai Ryssdal, highlighting parts of his résumé I’d never known about:
Born in the U.S., but grew up partially overseas. MA in national security studies from Georgetown. [Flew] airplanes off of aircraft carriers in the US Navy. Pentagon staff officer. U.S. Foreign Service. Great communication skills, as heard on his hit radio show Marketplace, where he breaks down economics and markets both foreign and domestic. After he left the Navy he would ride his bike to work at a Borders for $7 an hour. He’s got an unbelievably impressive résumé with real world experience in National Security, International Relations, China Policy, US Military policy, economics, and the markets. Plus he knows what it’s like to work a real job like the rest of us. And he speaks Chinese! That’s huge. I would get behind him any day of the week.
Jeremy would appoint Adam Silver, the current NBA commissioner:
He has the intellectual horsepower: Duke, University of Chicago Law, clerked in the Southern District of New York, then worked at Cravath. Outside of our politicized Congress, labor relations in sports might be one of the most contentious, prickly, polarized arenas around, and to date Silver has navigated it in a way his predecessor was unable and that other sports commissioners cannot. Furthermore, he has proven himself capable on the public speaking/pr side and is able to communicate effectively across a variety of arenas (i.e. public facing, labor negotiations, and keeping his ownership in line).
Chris isn’t yet sure about who it would be, but prefers to finally have a female president, and a younger one, too:
I would expect that person to be under the age of 60, if not 50. I do not understand the country’s misplaced faith in elderly white men. Looking back at the framers, very few were of advanced years … So I would look for someone younger, with a bold vision, and most importantly, a certain stake in the future—not ten or twenty years out, but 50 or 60 years of further life expectancy. Our most pressing existential problems, like climate change, require someone with a tangible investment in tomorrow, not just today or the past.
Russell picked one of my favorite public intellectuals:
I’d like to appoint Tyler Cowen as president—besides being an uber-rationalist, we should give him a chance to put his state capacity libertarianism idea into practice. He is also one of the best identifiers of talent possibly on Earth, so we know we would get a dream team administration, likely composed of heterodox thinkers of diverse and opposing views who could shake everyone out of complacency. Finally, he has studiously managed to avoid being labeled as particularly associated with either party, so it’s possible that popular opinion wouldn’t know what to make of it all, giving the Cowen administration a chance to chart some new path, independent of pre-established partisan biases. Magical thinking? Maybe, but no less than we’ve got permeating our politics now.
Amber would choose herself:
I couldn’t possibly fuck it up any worse. My greatest contributions would be an end to mass incarceration … and the return of American Manufacturing through proper regulation and a simplified licensing and paperwork structure. The reason that everything is made in China is because American manufacturing requirements are … special. It’s enough to make you want to do something else, like write some dude at The Atlantic.
I would fail to cater to the whims of billionaires, because I would be elected to represent all of the people. We have antitrust laws for a reason. Contrary to popular opinion, our democracy belongs to us. Maybe if we stop electing the wealthy, we can do things like demand a living wage.
Christopher would choose the former CEO of Disney:
I think Bob Iger would be an effective President. He would not win an election or nomination, but your question is not about who the best candidate would be. Iger has shown how he can skillfully manage a large, complex organization with various competing agendas and personalities, and during crises. And not only domestically but internationally.
He has that blend of technocrat and visionary which could be useful in a president, and appears to be decent. Not many people could develop productive relationships with people as diverse as Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch and Roy Disney. He is also interested in politics, but is not an ideologue. Not sure if he is a grand charismatic figure, but it certainly takes leadership to run such a large organization as Disney so effectively for so long.
And Tung would make “The Rock” president:
Dwayne Johnson. He’s super charismatic––and very positive and uplifting in personality. He comes across as relatively humble and decent, so would be quite a contrast from Biden and Trump.
Thanks to everyone who emailed this week, and see you on Wednesday.