My Presidential Platform: Balancing the Budget (and Resolving Some Daddy Issues)
In the movie Dave, Kevin Kline plays the president’s doppelgänger. When the actual president (also played by Kevin Kline) becomes brain dead from a stroke he suffers during a bout of extra-martial sex, Dave is called upon to pretend to be the president. But then Dave starts actually being the president. In my favorite scene, he calls in his friend and accountant, Murray Blum, to do the books.
Like Dave, I happen to have a terrific accountant. He is my dad.
My dad has lamented his whole life about how boring accounting is and how he wishes he could have found some truer calling or purpose, even though he is good at accounting, and well-paid. As a result, I have felt and still continue to feel tremendous, soul-crushing guilt that my dad did a job he didn’t like just to provide me with all the things he did, which was pretty much everything. I have always known that despite the fact that he has been encouraging and supportive of my life path, there must be some tiny part of him that’s like, “I sacrificed my entire adult life to the 1040 form and paid all that money to that fancy university just so my daughter could be a semi-itinerant and not-that-great rock climber in addition to a perpetually broke and obscure essayist?”
The only thing my father has ever said to me that made me think he was disappointed in me in any way was to once remark wistfully, “I always thought you could be one of those people on The West Wing.” He wasn’t wrong. Some people from my college graduating class are in fact members of the Obama administration, while others are paid to talk about the Obama administration on television.
I know my dad is proud of me for just being me, but I also know that he would profoundly enjoy having more to brag about, some tangible collection of letters—M.D., J.D., Ph.D., C.P.A.—even just a master’s degree, which in the field of writing, is the “terminal” one. (Maybe that’s why I never got an M.F.A., because it sounded like a disease.)
My pile of junior-high-school science competition medals and mere bachelor’s degree–however expensive–don’t stack up with the achievements of my peers, many of whom are doctors, lawyers, or college professors, and some of whom are somewhat famous. I know that even if I can lead Taxman (5.10a) on I.R.S. Wall in Joshua Tree,
this will not really be enough to honor my father, or realize his dreams for me. I’ll never return on the investment he made in me.
Daddy issues are part of any presidency. George W. Bush invaded Iraq and then occupied it for a decade in an attempt to resolve his daddy issues. My predecessor wrote a book about his daddy issues. To resolve my daddy issues, I will have my dad balance the budget. This will give his lifetime of accounting the level of purpose, meaning, and honor he has always felt it lacked.
If and when he does this, he will receive the nation’s highest honor, and enough money to retire without having to scale back on his, my mother’s, or their golden retriever’s extensive vitamin regimens. Thus far, the unsolvable question of how to maintain my parents’ and their golden retriever’s extensive vitamin regimens on anything less than a full-time salary has kept my father from retiring. Solving the American and my parents’ fiscal crises in one fell swoop would be a huge load off my mind, not to mention the nation’s.
Next plank: Sweden & Social Services