In the summer of 1993, the question troubling many Americans is: What's wrong with the Clinton presidency?
Make two columns on a piece of paper. In the first column list the number of hours in a day the president must devote to personal needs. In your second column list the things we expect the president to personally attend to; press conferences, speeches, White House dinners, dealing with 100 senators, 435 congressmen and 50 governors, Cabinet meetings, receiving visiting heads of state, meetings with White House aides, fund-raising for his party, answering mail, overseas travel, making major policy decisions on everything from nuclear weapons to health-care reform, and on and on and on.It is not just difficult for a president to do all these things - it is impossible.
The time it takes to do the things that we expect our presidents to do probably exceeds the time available by 40 or 50 times over. Every president is forced to delegate his authority widely.
Consequently, as many as 40 or 50 people either act in the name of the president or are the source of advice he is bound to follow.
These senior aides - on the White House staff and in the Cabinet - constitute the president's collective brain and have a decisive impact on the conduct of any presidency.
Unfortunately, Clinton's collective brain is the weakest of any American president since World War II.
Just look at some of the people our president consults with day after day. The chief of staff is Thomas McLarty, a nice man, a former corporate executive with zero political or national policy experience. The adviser for domestic policy is a young woman named Carol Rasco. Dee Dee Myers, the press secretary, is 31.
George Stephanopoulos, an engaging young man of scant experience, has just become the president's top strategist. Bruce Lindsey, another fellow with little background, is Clinton's "senior adviser." In charge of Clinton's economic program is Robert Rubin, an investment banker with zero experience in national economic policy.
Alexis Herman, a woman virtually unknown to the public, is in charge of public liaison. Bernard Nussbaum is probably the weakest White House legal counsel since John Dean. And Rahm Emanuel, a 29-year-old, is the youngest ever to be director of political affairs for a president.
There you have it. With the possible exception of David Gergen, a 51-year-old retread Republican, virtually all of the men and women who surround Clinton are either young and inexperienced or possessed of poor judgment, or both.
The president needs to clean house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. soon or face the bleak prospect of a failed presidency.
(Martin Anderson, a senior adviser on the President's Economic Policy Advisory Board during the Reagan administration, is now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.)