From the Ashes, a President for All Seasons
AFTER Richard Nixon left the White House in infamy and Gerald Ford followed by saying we should look the other way at what Nixon did, I went off the deep end. I asked myself, where were the modern-day presidents whose actions I could tell children to repeat? Or write heroic essays about? Or trust with my trust? There were none. So, I created a President. I nominated and elected to the presidency a man named Robert Bellwhether Armstrong, a short, lumpy man of great integrity. (I know him fondly as RBA.) His face is that of a supermarket manager, cheery but intense. He says, ``The essence of a President's job is to stay in touch with the will of the people. The purpose of his staff is to help him toward that end.''
RBA was born in California, the second son of two high-school English teachers. He was educated at Pomona College and Northwestern. He is not a lawyer. He listens well and is a relentless questioner.
He is a former businessman (frozen foods) who ran for Congress from Pennsylvania and won because three times on television during his first campaign he said ``I don't know'' to reporters' questions and then found the answers by asking questions. He continues to ask questions. As President, he has said, ``I will go anywhere and talk to anybody about solutions to problems.''
Here is a sampling of RBA's decisions since becoming President 25 years ago.
Citizenship: created a Citizen's Task Force to write a Bill of Responsibilities for the United States Constitution. ``Everybody loves the Bill of Rights,'' RBA says. ``Now it's time for a Bill of Responsibilities.''
Taxes: increased federal taxes (two to three cents) on all electronic consumer items, all pet foods, and all tires for automobiles and pickup trucks, the real staples of the American economy. Also initiated voluntary ``investment'' income taxes so that taxpayers can indicate what federal programs or agencies they want their taxes ``invested'' in.
Handguns: met with the National Rifle Association, weapon and bullet manufacturers, prominent gun lovers and advertising agencies to solicit massive matching funds for a continuing national campaign for gun safety and strict, mandatory, federal licensing and fingerprinting. ``Either that,'' said RBA, ``or we'll outlaw all handguns everywhere.''
Middle East: RBA told Israel ``the time has come to stop vengeance as a way of life. Because Israel is the most powerful nation in the Middle East, and historically the most inventive and morally resilient, unless it sponsors a summit conference in a neutral country with representatives from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon present, the US will withhold aid to Israel at the rate of 2 percent every three weeks until a settlement is reached (at which time the current aid level would be restored.)''
Day care: working through the states, RBA created day-care centers in schools using the model of the successful program in Independence, Mo., the ``Show Me'' state clearly showing the way.
Drugs: provided matching funds for a nationwide ``Adopt-a-Block,'' a social reclamation program that forged coalitions of private corporations, educational institutions, churches, athletes, volunteers, and federal and state antidrug agencies to provide specific services and organized support for people and families in major US cities.
Should readers care to support the presidency of Robert Bellwhether Armstrong with ideas or comments, write to me at The Christian Science Monitor in Boston.