Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


A Few Things you’ll Hate about Being President

Frighteningly, the 2024 US presidential contest could have begun. Former President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) is apparently campaigning for the office.

Moreover, there seem to be other politicians, including President Joe Biden (D-Delaware), who are also interested in the hell known as a presidential campaign. The strong interest in the presidency is surprising because history shows it is not a pleasant or fulfilling job.

Indeed, many of the presidents have been miserable in the White House and eight chief executives have died in office. One reason presidents are so miserable is all the things they cannot do.

Some Harsh Realities of Being President of the United States include:

1. Facial Hair is a no-no

No president since William Howard Taft (R-Ohio) has had facial hair. Taft’s famous handlebar mustache was the last facial hair in the White House. Every president since Taft left office in 1913 has been clean shaven.


Nor is it just presidents. The last major party presidential nominee to have facial hair was Thomas E. Dewey (R-New York) in 1948. Notably, Dewey lost two presidential elections in a row. Like Taft, Dewy had a mustache. Moreover, no president has worn a beard since Benjamin Harrison (R-Indiana) who left office in 1893.

The reason for the lack of presidential facial hair is hard to discern. However, it could have something to do with the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote which became law in the 1920s. One possibility is that many women dislike men who don’t shave.

Hence, if you are a man and you want to be president. You had better own and use a razor. However, the lack of facial hair could be a plus for women seeking the Oval Office.

2. You have a one-in-five chance of dying in office

Crime writer Michael J. Buchanan-Dunne calculates US presidents have a one-in*five chance of dying office. Buchanan-Dunne bases his calculation on the fact that eight of 45 presidents died in office as of 2017. Today’s odds are slightly better because Joseph R. Biden (D-Delaware) is the 46th president.

Hence,  the presidency is a risky job. Notably, only one prime minister of the United Kingdom, Spencer Perceval in 1812, was assassinated. Yet, assassins killed four presidents of the United States. Additionally, one president, Ronald Reagan (R-California) nearly died from an assassination attempt.

 At least 15 presidents have been the objects of assassination attempts or conspiracies while they were in office, Buchanan-Dunne observes. In addition, one ex-president Theodore Roosevelt (R-New York) was shot and injured while campaigning for a second term on the third-party Progressive (Bull Moose Ticket) in 1912.

So yes, the Presidency is a dangerous job.

3. Presidents and ex-presidents cannot drive on public roads

No President, or ex-president, has been allowed to drive on public roads since the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy Sr. (D-Massachusetts) in an open car. Instead, the Secret Service drives presidents everywhere they want to go.

The last president to drive on open roads was Lyndon Baines Johnson (D-Texas) in the mid-1960s. However, former President George W. Bush (R-Texas) can drive his pickup truck, but only on his ranch.

4. You cannot buy your own tech

The president cannot purchase a TV, computer, smartphone, or other gadget. Instead, the Secret Service (and presumably the National Security Agency) must approve all the president’s and ex-presidents’ tech .

person using a smartphone
Photo by cottonbro on

However, former President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) allegedly ignored this rule and bought his own phones. Predictably, spies hacked Trump’s phones.

5. You Won’t have a life after leaving the White House

Of the 37 ex-presidents in American history, only two, John Quincy Adams (R-Massachusetts) and William Howard Taft (R-Ohio), had successful careers after the White House.

Adams, a pillar of the establishment as president, became a US Representative and a controversial antislavery gadfly. Notably, Adams was a thorn in the slave power’s side power and a critic of presidents such as Andrew Jackson (D-Tennessee). Interestingly, Adams died on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Taft became a law professor at Yale and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.

Grover Cleveland

Every other ex-president quickly faded into obscurity. Even such famous ex-presidents such as Andrew Jackson (D-Tennessee), and Thomas Jefferson (R-Virginia), did little after leaving the White House. Today, former President Bill Clinton (D-Arkansas) gives speeches for money while George W. Bush (R-Texas) spends his time painting.

Similarly, only one former President, Grover Cleveland (D-New York) won reelection (in 1892) after losing a presidential race. Note: to Donald J. Trump, Cleveland had a miserable second term. During Cleveland’s second term, the nation suffered depression, economic turmoil, widespread unemployment, riots, strikes, labor unrest, and oh yeah, the federal government ran out of money and had to be bailed out by J.P. Morgan.

Cleveland didn’t seek a third term because most members of his own party, the Democrats, turned against him.

6. They will blame you for many things beyond your control

For example, many Americans blame the president for unbalanced budgets and tax increases. However, the Constitution gives the president power over the budget or taxes.

Instead, Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, sets the budget and tax rates. All the president can do is suggest legislation to Congress, and sign or veto whatever bills Congress sends.

The president also has little control over many policies and regulations that are set by Congress. For example, the President cannot set the minimum wage or increase Social Security payments because Congress controls those numbers.

People also blame presidents for events in foreign countries, the behavior of foreign leaders, and natural disasters. For example, some people blame President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) for the Ukraine War.

Thus, the president has little control over anything but gets blamed for anything.

So yes, the presidency is a prestigious, but it is also a dangerous and miserable job. Hence, I have to wonder why so many people want the position.