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HOW ABOUT A FOREIGNER FOR PRESIDENT?

After watching the Republican and Democratic primaries over the past few weeks, one thing seems pretty obvious:

We need a constitutional amendment allowing foreigners to run for president.Now before all you America-First people throw your hands up in horror, just consider for a few minutes what we're up against and the wonderful possibilities this proposal could open up.

If nothing else is plain, it's that the candidates we have now aren't cutting it. The prospects for 1996 don't look much better.

A foreigner, or at least somebody who was born someplace else, might be the best answer. Just think of the kind of people we could get to run the country if we didn't have that silly rule saying you have to be born in the United States to be its chief executive.

Take Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is the Austrian-born muscleman who found fame and fortune in Hollywood, married into our royal family, the Kennedy clan, and is almost as well-known for supporting Republican causes as he is for crushing skulls in the movies.

With a guy like Schwarzenegger as president, we wouldn't have any more foreign policy problems. You think Saddam Hussein or any other tin pot dictator would mess with "The Terminator"? We could also cut the Pentagon budget because Schwarzenegger could take care of any trouble overseas all by himself.

Too inappropriate for some of you? Are you out there still longing for that "kinder and gentler" world we were supposed to get four years ago but didn't?

Not to worry. There's always Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher is a proven commodity. We've seen her running Britain, and we know she can do the job. If some of you men worry about whether she's tough enough, just keep in mind that she drove the Argentines out of the Falkland Islands and got George thinking straight when he had his doubts about taking on Saddam.

Thatcher also speaks our language passably well and needs a job. We pay our presidents better than the British pay their prime ministers, so we could probably get her to come to Washington for less than we'd have to pay Schwarzenegger. There also are plenty of liberal foreigners who would make great Democrats. For starters, how about Mikhail Gorbachev or Brian Mulroney?

Like Thatcher, Gorbachev is a known commodity. He has global vision, a Nobel Peace Prize, a commanding presence - and he also needs a job. We could probably pay him even less than Thatcher because his pension for being Soviet president is really crummy and he's ready to take anything he can get.

The only real problem I can see with Gorbachev is that his English is pretty rough. Americans may have come a long way in getting used to various foreign cultures, but they still want to be able to understand their president when he or she gives a speech. Gorbachev would definitely have to take one of the CIA's intensive English language courses to smooth it out.

That's where Mulroney comes in. The Canadian prime minister probably gives a better speech in the English language than anybody I've heard in a long time. It doesn't matter what he's talking about or even if he knows what he's talking about.

As I wrote at the beginning, opening up the presidency to foreigners is only a modest proposal. We can't do it in time for this presidential election, but we might want to consider it for 1996 when the All-American alternative is likely to be Dan Quayle.