The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Jan. 21, 1985.)

All the politicians and newspeople are already yakking endlessly about who will win the next presidential election. They never give us a break.

I'm always pleased but surprised that anyone will take the job of being President of the United States. Of all the jobs in the world, it's the one I'd least like to have. I know you get a big house to live in for free, a salary of $200,000, a helicopter, an airplane, your own doctor and a big staff, but I still don't want the job. Don't even ask me because I won't take it.

It's always been a mystery to me why anyone would want to be president. Anyone who'd want to be president has to be some kind of nut who loves misery and criticism. If I were president, I'd call my personal physician and say, "What's wrong with me, anyhow?"

As president, any decision you make affects millions of people. You put thousands of people out of work every time you say, "Cut that." How do you sleep nights or attend a Cabinet meeting knowing someone couldn't feed his family tonight because of some policy of yours that cost someone a job?

A president can't go down to the basement of the White House on a Saturday morning and putter around. He can't decide to climb up on the roof and straighten the television antenna. He never gets the satisfaction of taking a load of trash to the dump. Considering he's probably the most powerful person I the world, he's almost powerless to do anything he wants to do. If he does, someone will see him doing it and claim he's wasting the taxpayers' money.

It's nice to have someone concerned about your welfare if it's a friend, but I certainly wouldn't want a lot of guys running alongside my car every time I started down the street to make sure I didn't get shot. Furthermore, I'd want to drive my own car. I don't like being driven anywhere by anyone.

You can bet there have been nights when the President sits down after a hard day's work dealing with world affairs and wants nothing more than to go to a good movie. Presidents of the United States can see any movie they want right in the White House, but that isn't what "going to the movies" means. Taking in a movie means driving to the theater, standing in line to buy a ticket, ordering popcorn and then groping your way down the aisle to find a seat. Can you imagine the complaints if the President ever went to an R-rated film?

There are a thousand things I can do that the President can't. I can go to any restaurant I want to eat dinner, or I can stay home and eat leftovers. He can't do either of those things.

I can wander down a street and window-shop, eat an ice cream cone, or lie down and take a nap and not do anything at all if I feel like it. Why would I want to be President?

For all the power he has to change the world with a snap of his fingers, the President can't decide to turn over and go back to sleep in the morning. He can't even make plans for a week from Saturday. His calendar is full for four years.

I hope you have a happy and successful time in office, Mr. President, but frankly, you can have it.

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