Don’t we want a warm feeling of respect to come over us when we refer to “The President”? A feeling of trust in his ability to do better than the common man? A sense he really does care about us ordinary people and we are in his thoughts in the midnight hour?
We expect character and crave the leadership that historically meant greatness in the office; a selflessness and recognition he bears a responsibility to his countrymen to rise above base instincts, lead by example, and be ready to address our problems, even though he is just a man.
Let us take Shakespeare’s portrayal of Henry V for example. The King disguises himself as an ordinary soldier to venture out among his men the night before the battle of Agincourt and learn their status, rather than relying on second hand accounts. There is no pretense, no requirement for ceremony or flattery.
With war again in the air for us, I note King Henry, so disguised, is reminded by one of his soldiers, “If the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at such a place’… it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it.”
After his soldiers leave him alone the soliloquy which follows reminds us the King is but a man, and but for ceremony he would not have the cares of all his people laid upon him.
“Upon the king! Let us our lives, our souls, our debts, our careful wives, our children, and our sins lay on the king! ” Henry V, Act IV, Scene 1.
Here, in my take on King Henry’s lament as to his status as King, yet a man, I lay in the sounds of night to emphasize the loneliness of leadership, the insomnia and thoughts the King alone must bear, while ordinary men are allowed sleep undisturbed by the cares of the sovereign.
And I am left to wonder whether this President, a successor to George Washington, considers us in the midnight hour when considering his next decision, or is mindful that he really is just a man, not that different than us, but for ceremony.