Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Politician?
It's a good thing for all of us that there are people who want to be politicians because you couldn't pay most of us to take the job of mayor, governor or president of anything. Why are there people who want to do such difficult work? We're all glad they do, but why?
Over the years, we've had politicians who were born for the job. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a born politician. Being President came naturally to him. There was nothing surprising about it. Al Smith was running for office when I was a little boy and he was different in every way from FDR except that he, too, was a born politician. Barack Obama is a good President but I don't think he's a born politician. Unfortunately, he's learning the game.
I live in New York City and our mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been in office since 2002. I fail to understand why he wants the job for a third term. His decision to run again is enough to make anyone wonder whether his decision about anything makes sense.
Why would anyone with brains and all the money he could ever need, want to be the leader of one of the most difficult, un-leadable cities in the world? New York has a great house called Gracie Mansion, which it provides for its mayor to live in, but Mayor Bloomberg doesn't even live there because his own house is greater. He ought to rent the official mayor's residence to a poor family and keep the change. I'd give him a little something for it if he'd throw in a few of his cars and drivers.
This year, the salary for the mayor of New York is $195,000. Next year, the job will pay $225,000. Most of us could squeak by on $195,000, but Mayor Bloomberg doesn't take his pay, except for $1 a year. He does this because he doesn't need the money. He probably doesn't like to fool around with small change like that; it could get lost in his pocket.
The President of The United States, on the other hand, is paid $400,000 a year. Now, $400,000 is real money and keep in mind, the President never has to pay for anything. (I first wrote that and said "hardly ever" but I changed it to "never.") When the President goes to a banquet or to dinner, which he does frequently, do you think he pays for the meal? Of course he doesn't. You and I pay. I'll bet Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg don't even bother to put money in their pants pocket when they go out at night. I wonder whether the President or Mayor Bloomberg carries money with them at all? I mean, for what?
If I ever got to eat with the President or the Mayor, I certainly wouldn't suggest we split the check. Of course, a President rarely eats in the kind of place where you pay for dinner anyway. It must seem funny to a President once he's out of office to have to pay for things again, back in the real world. Getting everything paid for all day the way a President does would be like doubling your salary.
Obama probably doesn't pay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, newspapers, a shoeshine, a haircut, or anything the rest of us put out for every day. Even if the President did pay for his own haircuts, it would be difficult for him to know how much to tip. I think the answer is, he doesn't pay for haircuts. It comes with the job of being President.
("Andy Rooney's 60 Years of Wit and Wisdom"(Public Affairs), a collection of columns, essays, '60 Minutes' segments and other writing spanning Rooney's entire career, is now in bookstores. Write to Andy Rooney at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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