I want me an atheist president.

Angela Cesere

He’s sweaty and nervous and has trouble sleeping because he’s so concerned about, well, everything. Because he laughs off the idea of a higher power calling the shots, he’s a details maniac – if he and his staff don’t handle this or that, who will? The only thing keeping America going, he realizes, is Americans. He has little faith in anything except people and even then only in those who have earned it.

Although he exudes confidence when it’s necessary to do so, those who know him best understand that he can’t shut off his brain. Terrorism. The environment. Health care. There’s simply too much to handle in four years for him to even think about a respite. So he skips vacations and gets four hours of sleep a night and has to be coerced by his staff to even take a weekend at Camp David.

I want me a wonk president.

He can neither throw nor catch a football, as he was too busy reading to have developed those skills during his formative years. He’s not someone you’d want to crack a beer with at a barbeque, as his conversational habits tend toward the soporific. He has little to say about American Idol but will have you begging off dessert so as to avoid another 20 minutes of his extensive theories on the economies of Southeast Asia.

I want me a humble president.

He’s aware that there will always be some topic or other for which it would be best to bring in an outside expert. So he does so rather often, and when the expert arrives, some advisor to the president pulls him aside, hands him a cup of coffee and says, “You’re going to need this.” These meetings can last for hours and hours, the president barely saying a word while taking notes at a preternatural rate, writing and highlighting and underlining. And by the time the expert thinks he is done briefing the president, the president has come up with several dozen questions.

Because questions are what this president is all about. How? When? And his personal favorite: Why? He is, more than anything else, a “why” president. He realizes that tradition and habit and common practice are crutches, not virtues, and he’s not afraid to question what most people take for granted. He’s not afraid to apply this scrutiny to himself, either; if someone points out something that he could do better, he will gladly accept the criticism in the name of progress and self-improvement.

I want me an honest president.

He’s tired of the platitudes and cliches of elected office. When something complicated happens, he explains to the people that it’s complicated. He’s not a good/evil, black/white, us/them sort of president. He sees the shades of grey that exist everywhere and realizes that the American people are smart enough to accept them. To him, acknowledging nuance is not a sign of weakness or indecision, but rather a necessary result of engaging in a world fueled by complexity.

There are no easy answers for this president; every issue requires its share of thoughtful deliberation and consultation. His doors are open to anyone hoping to offer a suggestion, regardless of his political party. He judges others in Washington based not on which side of the aisle they sit, but rather on their intelligence, innovation and ability to positively impact the country.

I want me an angry president.

He’s idealistic and doesn’t see the need to hide it. “The wrong people control the important things,” he repeats to friends, families and advisors. He sees the impact of money in Washington and keeps a very close eye on those in office who seem to be legislating with an eye toward their wallets. When he finds such officials, he calls them out. He can’t hear the phrase “K Street” without getting nauseous.

I want me a flexible president.

He came into the White House with certain beliefs, some of which have held up. Others, however, have been made obsolete by all the new information he has at his disposal, so his opinions on certain issues have changed. He understands that conviction is only a desirable trait when it is thrown behind ideas that make sense, and because of this he’s come to see belief as a malleable, plastic thing that has to adapt to the facts, rather than vice-versa.

Is it 2008 yet?


Singal can be reached at jsingal@umich.edu.


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