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Would You Like Some Peanuts, Mr. President?

A couple weeks ago I was watching a Presidential news conference (actually, I thought I was watching a Tivo’d episode of Saturday Night Live when I realized – nope, that really is our President) when a reporter asked President Bush about the impact on the economy of four dollar a gallon gasoline.

Our leader was shocked and offended. “Are you predicting gas will go to four dollars a gallon”, he asked the reporter incredulously, as if the man had just asked Bush to comment on the Martian colony that had been established outside of Des Moines.

Today I paid $3.89 per gallon when I filled up my car, as oil approached $110 per barrel, so the prospect of four dollar gas does not seem unrealistic – perhaps even as soon as next week.  And it got me wondering, what planet does our President live on?

I think in this day and age it has become too easy for politicians to lose touch with the plight of their constituents. If I traveled everywhere in my own 747 and fleet of limousines, never picked up a check, and never set foot in a store, I too might be amazed at the little things the rest of us take for granted.  When the elder Bush was President, he went into a store to do some Christmas shopping and marveled to the press about the miracle of “bar code scanners”.  He had never seen such a thing, and thought they were just marvelous!

So here’s my idea.  As a requirement of office, all high-level politicians should be required to do all of the following at least once a year:

• Go through airport security (including undressing in front of the TSCs and getting wanded), and then fly coach on a domestic airline from coast to coast. (Sorry Mr. President – we no longer offer pillows on this airline.)
• Drive a four-year-old Ford Tempo for a week – including filling it and taking it to the car wash.
• Go shopping for a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four – with a budget of $120.
• Visit an inner city emergency room at 1 am and attempt to see a doctor.
• Complete your own tax return.

I suspect that if we forced our politicians to occasionally “live real”, we would soon see all kinds of interesting reforms.

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