You're the President; you have a great Cabinet; how do you do?

Don’t fight the hypothetical; it’s magic, or something.

Anyhow, it’s, like, morning in America scant hours after Election Day, and you’re the new president-elect – and so you have maybe two-and-a-half months to get ready for the big job. I don’t know you, so I don’t know if you even have a law degree; I do, though, know that your Attorney General will have one, along with an impressive legal career and long membership in your political party. And you maybe don’t know from farm policy, but I know your Secretary of Agriculture would.

And you maybe didn’t work your way up to captaining a ship in the USN – but the guys who did, they report to Admirals who report to the Chief of Naval Operations, who along with the Commandant of the Marine Corps reports to the Secretary of the Navy, who along with the Secretary of the Army and Secretary of the Air Force answers to the Secretary of Defense. And figure that guy knows his business.

Name an issue, you have top men working on it right now. Who? Top. Men.

(Oh, and top women, of course; you’ve got binders full of 'em.)

So how good a job could you, personally, do?

What’s the debate here?

You know, I wondered – debated? – whether this would better fit IMHO for “exchanges of views”, but figured it would soon become a debate and wind up here.

And if I squint just right, I can see how it could’ve fit in Elections. Maybe even MPSIMS, for certain values of “general discussion: from frivolous chatter to deep thoughts”

If you prefer, lemme tentatively phrase it this way: I think you’d do okay. Debate?

I would be terrific.

Not me. First thing I’d have to do is get my Surgeon General to schedule me for a Public Service gland implant. And if it didn’t take, I’d resign in favor of my VP.

It’s no job for an amateur, particularly an uninterested one.

Wow, that would be a sucky administration, and the lack of a First Lady would raise some eyebrows.

Since I have the dream team of cabinet members on my side, I assume the only thing left for me to do as President is decide which plan laid out to me by my cabinet members is the best one for the country.

I think I could do fairly well at this. However, I would suck at public speaking, I would suck at debating, and I’m not really sure how well I would fair at diplomatic relations.

So over all, I’d still be a lousy Prez, despite my talent for making tough decisions.

Those are the parts I could do well. (Wanna join forces and be duumvirs?) The thing I couldn’t handle would be the hostility. When talk radio unloaded on me, calling me all sorts of cruel names, it would just plain kill me.

But giving the weekly radio address, the State of the Union address, even the solemn meetings with the families of soldiers killed in action – I can do that, and do it well.

Terrible administration. Even assuming you know who the good people are, you have to handle their issues with each other and you have to deal with problems that they fail to deal with successfully. And no matter how talented the manager, there’s always some blind spot or weak spot. The guy at the top matters a lot, and being a good judge of talent and picking good people to work for you is an important part of management, but not sufficient.

Just look at the GWB administration. So many people went into that administration with sterling reputations. Most of them exited with their reputations tarnished. Did all of those people suddenly go bad? Were they always bad but no one knew it? Or was the guy at the top the problem?

Tell me about the Congress I have to work with/against.

I want a single-payer system in this country, that would be my top priority, but I have serious doubts even ‘top men’ could get it passed.

ETA: what Czarcasm said.

The Presidency isn’t about what new laws you can get passed, it’s mostly about carrying out the 200+ years of laws already on the books. Social Security checks need to go out on time, tax collection needs to be efficient and fair, federal agencies have to accomplish their missions, from regulating pollution to the financial industry to energy. Foreign policy has to be conducted.

I don’t know about you, but if I was President, assuming there was no pressing crisis that required legislation, I’d want to make sure the government was doing what it’s already supposed to be doing before I went to Congress and begged for it to give me more stuff to do.

Assume whatever you like; how would you, and your like-minded team of experts, do if your party holds a majority in both houses? And how would you, and your team, do if you held one house but not the other? And how would you and your team do if it’s the other party that (a) held both houses, and (b) did all they could to stop you and yours from accomplishing much of anything?

But more importantly: how would you and said team of experts do relative to a former Senator/Governor/Whatever with that same team of experts?

Dude, it’s your hypothetical-I was only asking for a simple clarification that, in the real world, makes a world of difference in politics. Do you actually want me to write out one scenario, two scenarios, or three scenarios here?

Heh. No, not really. Well, sort of.

Like I said, I kinda figured the interesting question wasn’t how much you’d absolutely accomplish, but how much you’d accomplish relative to an experienced politico with the same team of experts. Sure, you wouldn’t get much done if the opposition holds both houses and wants to stymie you – but neither would the pro. You’d presumably get more done if your party holds both houses – and so would the pro.

So I figured the answer would be “X, Which Isn’t As Good As The Pro” in either case. But if I’m wrong about that – if you figure you’d accomplish exactly as much as a pro in one situation but much less in another – then I’d like to hear your reasoning.

I’d make a lousy President no matter how many top people I had working for me. I’d Remo Williams the shit out of people I think of as Enemies of the State, and it would get noticed.

I am completely on board with this objective. As head of the executive branch how would you ‘make sure’ government was working as already intended without passing new legislation?

Let’s start with the most pressing executive branch problem that exists right now: the VA. Officials having off the books waiting lists is purely an executive branch problem that requires the involvement of the guy at the top.

Another issue that has been brought up in the wake of the ACA rollout problems is the government’s IT acquisition procedures. It’s possible that some changes might require Congressional approval, but the bulk of those rules are set by the executive branch and it’s not like Congress is likely to stand in the way of technical changes of that nature if they are required.

And there’s one thing a President can do all by himself: let his people know in no uncertain terms that any major issue needs to be brought to him BEFORE it hits the papers, rather than not telling him so that he has plausible deniability. When the IRS decided to go public with the fact that they’d been improperly handling applications from tax exempt organizations, the President was purposefully not told to protect him politically. Not singing out Obama here, because protecting the President by keeping him in the dark has been standard practice for a long time and it makes the job impossible. On Day 1, you have to say, “If anything is going on that requires my attention, I want to know before the press does, and if I do find out about something through the damn media heads are going to roll.”

I’d do very well. For one, I think limited government with a balance between the branches at the federal level and a balance between national and local governments is the intent and word of the Constitution. So I’d act very restrained.

My number one priority would be checking egregious abuse of state power such as Gitmo, asset forfeiture abuse, things of that nature. On an international level I would be strongly in favor of curtailing China’s expansion and revamping positioning of forces so it didn’t look like we were encircling Russia.

The best job I could do for the country would be to pick a good Vice-president, and then resign.

Saying that someone like me, with zero experience at anything relevant, could do anything at all is the same as saying the President doesn’t do anything at all.