The Kid Who Ran for President


Back in 2003 when my wife and I returned to the U.S. with two toddlers in tow, the car dealer really, really wanted to sell us a minivan with screens built into the headrests. He was surprised when we said ‘no’ even after he pretty much agreed to throw in this electronic child-pacifier option for free.

I’m so glad we didn’t take the bait. We’ve spent a lot of enjoyable road trips with my now three children talking, playing “Jakab Family Jeopardy,” and listening to some great kids’ audiobooks. The adult-enjoyment aspect of the recordings varied greatly, from Harry Potter and Roald Dahl on one end of the spectrum to Rick Riordan somewhere in the middle and lots of implausible stories on the poor end.

Okay, I know child wizards and big friendly giants aren’t realistic either, but for some reason titles like “The Toothpaste Millionaire” and “The Kid Who Ran for President” bugged me more. I started thinking about that latter title recently, and it wasn’t reminiscences of my children’s younger, more innocent days. It was something I read in the paper.

President Trump apparently thought that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his top military officer, made $5 million a year. This is only the latest forehead-smacker, of course. He recently said you need photo ID to buy cereal, seemed to believe stealth planes are actually invisible, that health insurance costs $1 a month, and asked Bill Gates the difference between HIV and HPV.

Does it sound like something a 12 year old, like the hero of the aforementioned story, would say? That might be too generous. Trump’s defense secretary compared him to “a fifth or sixth grader” in terms of his understanding of the world.

One big difference, aside from chronological age: the kid in the book is refreshingly modest.

My fellow Americans,

When I was running for President, I said you should vote for me because I didn’t know anything about politics . . . or how to raise taxes . . . or how to ruin the economy. I didn’t know how to get us into a war. I said you should vote for me because I didn’t know anything.

Well, that was two months ago, and I’m very proud to say that . . . I still don’t know anything. Let’s face it: I’m a kid. I’m going to need a lot of help. Here’s the deal I offer America: I’ll help all of you if you all help me!

Anyway, it seems that warped minds think alike. One of the first things that came up when I googled the book’s title was a story about how John Oliver featured the title, making the same parallel to our commander-in-chief. Some 20 years after publication, orders for the title soared and it became prolific children’s author Dan Gutman’s best-selling book ever.


About SJ

I know, I already write for a living.
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