America doesn’t need a maverick

Suppose the University president decides to leave us for greener pastures, and the Board of Trustees embarks on a search for someone to succeed her. Would the BOT consider a soccer mom with a bachelor’s degree for the job, with or without lipstick? Probably not. Would the BOT select a person whose intellectual prowess is less than outstanding? Also not likely.

The president of the United States is one of the most powerful people in the world. He shoulders awesome responsibilities — his words and actions have profound consequences on our nation and on people across the globe.

As the presidency of George W. Bush winds down, he leaves behind a country in shambles. As a result of his leadership, U.S. standing in the world community is at its lowest point — thousands of U.S. troops and citizens have died and tens of thousands have been maimed for life while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and millions displaced.

Meanwhile, our Constitution has been trashed, human rights have been violated and, according to Alan Greenspan, the nation is in a “once-in-a-century financial crisis.” This reminds me of King Louis XIV of France, who was reported to have said: “Apres moi, le deluge.” In other words, let those who succeed me clean up the mess. This illustrates that it takes more than a popular governor of a state to become a successful president of a country.

When it comes to this election’s candidates, America has an intelligent, well-educated Harvard graduate and a constitutional law scholar on one hand, and a “maverick” — make that a pair of mavericks — on the other. Some disparage and dismiss the former by ridiculing his academic achievements and call him an “elitist” and “untested.”

What was Sen. John McCain thinking when he chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate? His selection is crucial and this calls his judgment into question. He probably has many more years to serve this country, but the strong probability remains that his age might very well catapult the vice president to the presidency. Therefore, a close look at the governor is imperative.

We are told that Palin is a maverick in her own right with expertise in energy and international savvy. What makes her an expert on international affairs? Well, she visited Kuwait and thought that she had visited Iraq, CNN reported. Her plane had a stopover at the airport in Ireland to refuel, stated, so she understands the Europeans, and she sat on her porch and saw Russia across the Bering Strait with Putin’s planes in Alaska’s airspace.

As for her education, Palin hopped from one college to another: Hawaii Pacific University, North Idaho College, the University of Idaho and Matanuska-Susitna College. Finally, after five years, she received her bachelor’s degree in communication-journalism. Communication? So, she can deliver a prepared speech to the delight of her admirers. What a maverick.

Her few national interviews offered hours of rib-cracking laughter. Soon, however, my laughter turned into pity for the governor and anger at McCain for putting her through such humiliating performances.

Setting his choice for a vice president aside, no one can take away McCain’s service in the military. What he endured in the prisons of Hanoi was heroic and calls for our understanding and admiration. But McCain is running for president. Does he have what it takes to assume that position?

In March of this year McCain — on a visit to Amman, Jordan — declared to dignitaries and the news media that Iran was supporting the Sunni militants in Iraq. Was it lack of knowledge, or a senior moment? Fortunately, Sen. Joe Lieberman was there to correct him. What a maverick.

On April 19, 2007, at a campaign rally in South Carolina, McCain was asked about Iran. With a take-off on a song by the Beach Boys, he sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” NPR reported. Though he did not win an American Idol spot, he did send Iran a message. What a maverick.

It is said that McCain has a bad temper. Can you imagine what would happen if he were awakened at 3 a.m. and told about an attack on our embassy in Yemen? He would probably bomb, bomb, bomb Spain — for withdrawing their troops from Iraq — and turn his wrath on the Axis of Evil (Syria, North Korea and Iran). That way he could keep us safe.

Just in case he doesn’t wake up in time for the fireworks, we have his vice president who will keep us safe. Sleep well, America. On second thought, you better wake up!

For all students aspiring to become president — and some should — make sure you get a good, solid education. Remember, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, don’t baffle them with lipstick. A prerequisite for the position of president of the United States should be, at the very least, a high degree of education coupled with intellectual prowess.

I write this letter hoping that freedom of speech is alive and well in this country. In case that freedom has already been trashed, I invite my students and friends to come and visit with me at the seaside resort of Guantanamo Bay.

Manoug Manougian is mathematics professor.