- Ada, Oklahoma

May 23, 2014

Presidential perk turned into a bummer

Sam Pollak
CNHI News Service

— I wish everybody would just quit bugging me about it.

The phone calls from the networks, the political pundits speculating about my future, the pleading letters and emails from average, working-class Americans who say they will give up hope if I drop out of the race. Well, that’s all going to come to an end - and darned quick, too.

I have decided that I don’t want to be president of the United States.

No, don’t try to talk me out of it. My mind is made up.

My reason for putting the kibosh on a campaign that would easily have brushed aside the Hillary Clintons, Rand Pauls and Jeb Bushes, revealing them as mere pretenders to the throne?

It’s simple.

The job just doesn’t look like much fun.

I was in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Thursday when President Barack Obama came to the village, and let me tell you, the poor guy hardly spent any time at all at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Secret Service got him into the building without almost anybody noticing, and got him out of there pretty much the same way. In between, he gave a little speech for a selected few people and some members of the news media.

That little group, by the way, included Joe Mahoney and Julie Lewis from my newsroom at The Daily Star. They were selected by the White House to be the local “pool” reporter and photographer for Obama’s visit. That means they were the only members of the local media actually taking a tour of the Hall with the president and their work would be shared with any media outlet that requested it from the White House.

Julie and Joe were obviously pretty busy, so perhaps they didn’t have time to take pity upon a president whose smile hid the fact that he was clearly miserable.

Imagine going into the Baseball Hall of Fame and only having about a half-hour to see everything there is to see, and having to give a speech, too. What fun is that?

Mr. Obama is a Chicago White Sox fan, and there are 33 plaques hanging in the Hall that honor inductees with at least some connection to the White Sox. There’s no way he could have had the time to read the plaques and show proper reverence for them in one lousy half hour.

For that matter, the whole day had to have been a big disappointment to the leader of the free world. He probably has to wake up real early to have any time at all with the wife and kids, then get the skinny from his chief of staff about Vladimir Putin’s latest mischief before he OKs another drone attack on an al-Qaida operative.

Then it’s another fight with the Speaker of the House over health care, a coup in Thailand and another Democratic senator who’s complaining that unless Obama supports a pipeline in his state, a Republican will be elected in November.

You know, same old, same old.

But then he gets a chance to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and his heart leaps at the prospect of seeing the uniform Hank Aaron wore when he hit his 715th home run, the one that broke Babe Ruth’s record.

Aaron has his own room at the Hall, filled with memorabilia. So, for that matter, does Ruth. But there’s little time to see them, other than a peek at Ruth’s bat.

And what about the St. Louis Browns uniform of Eddie Gaedell, who was only 3 feet, 7 inches tall and wore No. 1/8 when he walked on four pitches in his only plate appearance? No time for that, either.

Obama got just a quick tour of the building, but you don’t “tour” the Baseball Hall of Fame, you linger, you visualize, you appreciate.

I mean, what a bummer. Just when you start thinking that being president has some pretty good perks, you get rushed out of the Hall of Fame, onto Marine One for a helicopter ride to Rome, N.Y., then a flight on Air Force One to Chicago for a couple of Democratic Party fundraisers.

Then, instead of being able to regale Michelle and the girls with how they would have loved the Diamond Dreams exhibit about “A League of Their Own” and women’s baseball, you sadly call them and tell them about your speech promoting international tourism.

As president, I wouldn’t have any trouble telling Putin to keep his shirt on, or banging heads together to get my agenda passed by Congress.

But if the job means I would have to leave the Baseball Hall of Fame in the middle of Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s On First” routine because there might be a crisis somewhere in the Balkans, forget about it.

I don’t want to be president.

Sam Pollak is editor of The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y., 20 miles from Cooperstown, He can be reached at