Weekly Hypothetical – How Good Of A President Would You Be If You Were Always Stoned?
When I was twenty-three I moved halfway across the country, from Chicago to Tucson. This was done mostly because I could, and partially because my last winter in Illinois involved having to walk across campus to take a final when the wind chill factor was 80 below zero. I knew then that I wanted to have kids at some point in my future, and having my frozen balls fall off and shatter on the pavement wasn’t going to help in that regard. So off I went.
Of course, being 23, I wasn’t exactly going to be moving first class. Or second class. Or third. I had $900 to get me across the country, find a place to live, and survive long enough to find a job (with no experience) and get some money rolling in. And so I wound up staying in what was then known as Ft. Lowell Manor, in lovely North Tucson. This place was notable for two things: low rent, and walls so thin that you could use them as tracing paper. Seriously, if someone farted two apartments down you could not only hear it, but you could smell it as well.
I also wound up with a crap job selling contractor tools over the phone. Now selling anything over the phone is a shit job: Everyone hangs up on you, usually after yelling at you first. But selling tools to construction workers was even harder. Worse yet, because you had to catch these guys before or after they were out on the site, you had to be in the office at weird hours. 5:00 to 10:00 AM, and 3:00 to 7:00 PM, six days a week to be precise. As a result, everyone who worked this job was in a constant state of sleep deprivation made worse by the fact that we were all young guys who were constantly drinking beer.
All of this came to a head when a couple of college students moved in to the apartment below me and began acting like college students: They partied a lot, and at weird hours. Normally this would have resulted in me going down to join them in whatever idiocy they had going on, but I needed what little sleep I was getting and didn’t need my walls vibrating with bass at 2:30 in the morning.
Being the friendly sort, I went down there and talked to them. When that didn’t seem to work, I wrote a reminder note and taped it to their door. I’d knock on the floor if things were getting a bit loud, and when all of that didn’t work I complained to the landlord. Nothing would shut these guys up. One night I pounded on the floor at 3:00 which resulted in the music being turned down. Then they pounded on the ceiling and turned the music up even louder. Fuckers.
Finally the next day (a Sunday) I was sitting in my living room trying to watch TV when they fired up their trusty stereo again, this time vibrating a row of books off of the shelf above me. Having had enough, I finally did what I’d been trying to avoid all along: I called the cops. I don’t like calling the cops for stupid shit like noise complaints, and I don’t like involving the cops when I have a rare beef with a neighbor. But clearly these assholes had left me no choice.
The police arrived and came to my apartment first so they could hear how loud it was from my place. They agreed that the noise was excessive and went downstairs to speak with the two noisy assholes. At this point I heard nothing but pounding on a door followed by “Tucson Police Department, open up!” for five minutes. After that, the stereo went off and it was utterly quiet.
Twenty minutes later I looked out the window to see another cop car rolling into the parking lot. Just then, the first officer came up to my door and explained what had happened. While the police were banging on the door and announcing themselves, the two nimrods were unable to hear them clearly because of their loud music. So while the police were yelling “Tucson Police Department!”, they were just yelling back “Come on in!” Which the police finally did, finding the two pricks sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table, rolling joints from a great big bag of weed.
Lesson #1: Answer the fucking door. Lesson #2: Lay low on the music if you’re committing a felony. Lesson #3: Pot makes you paranoid. Sometimes that can come in handy.
Speaking of pot, our Weekly hypothetical comes from reader AchillesLastStan who writes: “How good (or bad) of a President would you be if you were baked all the time? Better than JFK? Worse than Bush? Somewhere in the middle?”
That’s a great question, Stan, and it’s worth noting that one of your examples above (JFK) actually did smoke pot while in office. Some say he was a half-way decent President. But then again, he wasn’t getting stoned around the clock. (However, in his speech in Berlin he famously and erroneously declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” which translates to “I am a jelly doughnut”, so maybe he was baked quite a bit after all.)
So let’s say for hypothetical purposes that everyone loses their goddamn mind and elects me President. And let’s say I accept this awesome responsibility and swear to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, then turn around and do a massive wake and bake session for four years. Actually, that sounds like a lot of fun. How many signatures do I need to get on the ballot?
Anyway, how would my performance differ from that of any other President? As I see it there are four areas to be concerned with: Dealing with Congress, domestic policy, foreign policy, and acting like a batshit-loonball.
Dealing with Congress: A stoned President wouldn’t make a difference at all in this regard. This is because partisan politics have gotten so bad in this country that half of our legislators agree with our President no matter how moronic he is, and the other half would sooner die than agree with our President, no matter how sensible he is.
President: I strongly support passing this bill which calls for longer jail sentences for those who kill crippled five year olds.
Congressman: That’s crazy! Our country is founded on offing crippled kids! Think about the chilling effect this would have on business! It’s a violation of the amendment protecting free speech! We need to impeach the President before he destroys this country!
President: I fucking hate this job.
Domestic Policy: Domestic policy basically boils down to coming up with money to give people things they want that they don’t want to pay for. This is where a stoner’s skill in scrounging up money for munchies would come in handy.
President: Ooh, hey! If we move the last military payday this year back 2 days, we can avoid exceeding the budget and pocket the interest we’d make during those two days netting a savings of $40 million we could then spend on whatever we wanted!
Of course, there’s a downside to that…
President: Hello, Frito-Lays? Yeah, this is the President. You guys still make Funyuns?
Foreign Policy: Foreign policy consists of America taking an interest in other countries which pisses them off because we should mind our own fucking business. This causes America to mind its own fucking business which pisses off other countries because now we’re ignoring them. So bongs away, because no matter what you do, you’re gonna piss someone off. Take a leak on the Great Wall of China. Loudly remind the French that they’re a bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Give the Grand Duke of Luxembourg a noogie (and say hi from me). The beautiful thing about being roundly hated is that you no longer have to kiss up to anyone.
Acting Like a Batshit-Loonball: As we’ve seen, the difference a baked Chief of State makes is negligible. There are simply too many layers of legislators, judges, and government agencies present for one person, no matter how stoned, to have a meaningful impact. If the President merely spaces out in cabinet meetings and raids the White House fridge for four years, we’d hardly know about it.
So here’s where a stoned President stands to make a difference. Get fucking wacky in public. Don’t kiss babies, lick them. Don’t go on 60 Minutes, show up on Animal Hoarders because you’ve got 143 alligators in the White House basement. When the Speaker of the House slams on one of your domestic programs, soak his lawn in gasoline and burn the words, “Fuck You Asshole!” in his front yard while mooning him from across the street with the press in tow.
One of the things Americans hate about politicians is that politicians pretend to be moral, upright, idealists who will bring about a new American renaissance by loving their country, blah blah fuckity-blah. This is bullshit, and it provokes contempt on the part of the voter because we know it’s only a matter of time before we catch that moral idealist with a tube of KY and a three toed sloth in the D.C. Zoo bathroom.
We want our politicians to be just like us: Generally nice people who occasionally do goofy things like leave drunken voice mails for our boss to discover, or drive in the carpool lane by ourselves, or even invite police into our apartment when we’re rolling joints. A politician who did those kind of things and then honestly copped to them, would be beloved. And when you’re beloved, people will follow you. And when you are followed, then you can lead. And when you lead, then you can get all the Funyuns you want.
So, how good (or bad) of a President could you be if you were baked all the time? I honestly don’t think it would matter a whole lot. The occasional stupid decision would be offset by the lazy refusal to do anything at all about most things. As long as you kept the bong away from the button, you’d be better than Truman. And as long as you didn’t spend $40 trillion on Funyuns, you’d be better than Reagan. Hell, even a dumbass would be better off.
So on a Presidential scale of 1 to 100, 100 being Abe Lincoln, and 1 being that fat walrus-looking fucker William Howard Taft, I’d put a baked Chief at 82: Teddy Roosevelt. And that’s pretty fucking good.