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Eagle had tasked the Irks with examining the global economy – including the U.S. - in order to come up with a plan to save America.
Irks were the nerds of the eagle world – exceptionally bright, but more oriented towards intellectual pursuits than the more glamorous combat aviators.
Traditionally, the aviators had tended to have first pick of the female talent available (and female eagles are exceptionally beautiful), but the Irks were catching up. And just to confuse the issue, both sexes were now Irks. Changing times!
Eagle, who had spent much of his career as an aviator – and whose absolute passion was flying – hadn’t fully appreciated the Irks for a long time. More recently he had found them invaluable.
They were bright, quick, thorough; and brought formidable brainpower to whatever issue they were studying; and though most were in awe of Eagle, they weren’t afraid to both speak up and disagree.
Eagle found them both intellectually stimulating and refreshing; and increasingly consulted with them. Mostly, he spoke to one of the study groups they had formed. Four young irks at a time were exhausting enough. They could work all day, argue all evening and party the rest of the night. Though he was convinced he could still outfly them all, and drink them under the table, he had reached an age where he accepted that sleep had its merits.
Eagle glided in to a perfect landing. Cuckoo had vanished, as he sometimes did. Though Eagle seemed to be his main priority right now, he was also the Watcher for Cuckoo-Land (otherwise known as Europe). It was a vast area of responsibility, but he coped by focusing on the priorities. They could be summed up in one word: Leadership.
“We were discussing the qualities required to be president,” said Plipp, leader of this particular group. “We think one of the core problems of Eagle-Land is that it is over dependent on the presidency. Other countries with different systems seem to be better. The Chinese, for instance, are led by a small group of rather exceptional engineers. The Swiss rotate their leader who acts more like a chairman. The Swedes have a parliamentary system. All plan and seem to know where they are going whereas Eagle-Land seems to rely on one flawed human, who is normally without a plan, to save the day. That seems to us to be nuts.”
“Very true,” said Eagle. “But changing the U.S. Constitution is not an easy matter. As for planning, that assumes a majority can agree about what kind of society they want. And right now they are nearly as divided as they were before the Civil War.”
Plipp sighed rather prettily. She really was a remarkably attractive young eagle.
Eagle decided he had better focus on his gravitas. He cleared his throat. “So what qualities do you think an ideal U.S. president should possess?”
“Thed has the list,” she said, indicating a young Irk with an iPad. “We’ve limited it to ten points, but it’s still surprisingly revealing. “Go to it, Thed.”
Thed gave a slight bow of respect to Eagle. Eagle acknowledged the compliment and indicated that Thed should begin.
“Firstly, the president should be a person of integrity,” Thed said. “By that we mean trustworthy in the fullest sense; a person of character.
“Secondly, the president must be fiercely intelligent, numerate, and with a keen analytical mind capable of great clarity of both thought and expression..
“Thirdly, the president should be knowledgeable, intellectually curious, and widely read, particularly in relation to history, military matters and economics.
“Fourthly, the president needs to be emotionally warm and empathetic; and socially concerned about all his – or her – people. We emphasize all.
“Fifthly, the president must be decisive.
“Sixthly, the president must be resilient.
“Seventhly, the president needs to be an excellent judge of character. Good at picking people.
“Eighthly, the president must be charming and politically adept.
“Ninethly, the president must be armed with a clear vision of where he or she wants to lead the country.
“Finally, the president must be able to inspire, educate, motivate and move the American people through words and, if required, action, above and beyond their prejudices and short term interests. “
Eagle was lost in thought. The young Irks had nailed it simply and accurately. Set against such a short list, the issue at hand was startlingly clear.
The four Irks looked at him nervously.
“Exceptionally well done,” he said. “Excellent work.”
Deep down he know that something very important and fundamental had occurred. It was terrifying.