Let’s say I want a new job. I’m not rich or powerful, so my employer is hardly likely to allow me to take a few weeks off â€” let alone more than a year â€” to search for a new job. My employer expects me to do my job. If I want to look for a new job, I’ll have to do it on my own time â€” and probably secretly.
At the moment, there’s a gaggle of politicians who have jobs â€” important jobs â€” who are running around the country looking for a new job. And none of their current employers seems to be complaining all that loudly. They should be.
I am one such indignant employer. I’m irritated that the woman I hired to do a job for me â€” be an fully effective senator for the state of New York â€” is too busy seeking a new job that she’s falling down on her current job.
This isn’t a complaint solely about Sen. Hillary Clinton. Accompanying her on the campaign trail are other officeholders seeking a new job while supposedly working to improve the lot in life of the people who hired them to perform competently in their current jobs.
Like Sen. Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain have current jobs that pay them $169,300 a year. Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden used their current jobs to seek a new job until they withdrew from the 2008 presidential election sweepstakes.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rep. Ron Paul, too, get paid $169,300 per annum. Ditto Rep. Duncan Hunter, who has also used his current job and that fat salary to seek a new job.
Gov. Bill Richardson, paid $110,000 by the state of New Mexico, also wanted that nice new job until he, too, withdrew from the presidential race.
They all want this really great new job: $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance. A nice plane. Limos to everywhere. Housing provided. Housing staff provided. Best medical benefits in the world.
How can these people perform well in their current jobs if they take up to a year or more to campaign virtually full time for a new job? Oh, they say, We have staff people. We have the most modern, reliable communication equipment to keep in touch. We can fly chartered planes back to D.C. or the statehouse if need be.
That’s poppycock. As it is, these people do not spend full time on their current jobs; as much as half their time (if they weren’t seeking a new job) is spent raising money so they can retain their current jobs. For any of these candidates to claim that they can perform fully and competently in their current jobs while running for president is political deceit.
Many of these people, when seeking their current job, promised this: Don’t worry. If you hire me, I will serve out my full term. I’ll place my full attention on you, the people who hired me.
If these people want to run for president, fine. Many are suitably qualified to be a competent, if not inspirational, president. But, damn it, quit your current job first so we can find a replacement who will give us the full attention we need.
It is morally reprehensible for presidential candidates to claim they can fully and competently serve in Congress or a statehouse while running for president. They demonstrate a lack of courage by holding on to that “fallback” job while spending a year seeking another one.
As we measure the character of these candidates, let’s keep this in mind: Past behavior is an indicator of future performance.