Monday, January 15, 2007

Q: What’s better than the SAT?

A: The President’s Test

Just about anybody who wants drive a car in this country must pass a driving test. Cars are dangerous in the wrong hands. We just can’t have anybody driving two thousands pounds of matter through midday traffic. So we test.

A simple driving test does not guarantee that you won’t create havoc in the streets. But passing a driving test is a good predictor that you’ll drive safely within statistical limits. Yet we let just about anybody drive this country, regardless of experience, skill, intelligence or aptitude. No wonder things are all messed up.

So I propose a change in the way that we do things. I propose we revise the Constitution of the United States to require not only must the President of the United States of America be natural born, at least thirty five years of age and live here for fourteen years, but that anybody that occupies the Oval Office must have an 80% passing grade on the President’s Test.

So in the spirit of patriotism, here are some of the questions that I think anybody who wants to be President should be able to answer.

  1. What is the difference of between the city-state and the nation-state?
  2. Who was the last President of the United States when Louis-Phillippe was King of France?
  3. What are the two commonwealths that exist within the United States?
  4. Who was Levy Woodbury?
  5. What are the nine states of present day Austria?
  6. What was Teapot Dome about?
  7. What is the difference between the head of government and the head of state?
  8. In calculus, what is the Theory of Limit?
  9. What is Thomas Malthus’s Theory of Population?
  10. What were the causes of the Crimean War?
  11. What factors led to the unification of the German states in 1871?
  12. In the event the disaster strikes the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate and the Secretary of State, who is next in the line of Succession to the Presidency?
  13. How many bytes are in a petrabyte?
  14. What is a gerund?
  15. What caused the Panic of 1819?
  16. Who was the Ambassador to the Court of Saint James during the Civil War?
  17. Who are the current members of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China?
  18. What is the difference between the Marxist dialectic and Hegelian dialectic?
  19. How many pints are there in a gallon?
  20. Name 5 characters from Shakespeare’s play, Richard II.

I am sure that there are others.

One of Barry Levinson’s early films is titled Diner. One of the plots of Diner had to do with a couple about to be married. Before the marriage can take place the bride-to-be has to pass the Football Test. The Football Test is administered by the groom-to-be. The way that the test works is that the groom asks a series of question that have to do with the game of football or any football team to play the game.

Everybody relevant to the marriage was concerned about the Football Test. The bride’s parents want to marry her off. The bride wants to be married. The groom wants a bride that can pass the Football Test. Whether the bride had any interest in football or not was irrelevant. In order to get married the bride had to pass the test. It’s that simple.

Now I realize that not many candidates will have the time or desire to learn the answers to questions such as those posed above. But, just as the bride-to-be had no real interest in football, she desperately wanted to get married. So she learned what was necessary to get what she wanted.

And, not many of us want to know or care about what has right of way first, a police car, a fire engine or a mail truck? But, if we want to drive, we learn the answer.

So, moving forward, if you want to be President, learn the answers. It’s that simple.