The Nation: The Unimperial Presidency

The sleek comforts of Air Force One. Military bands blaring Hail to the Chief. Commands that set all the nation's warships, bombers and armies into instantaneous motion. Feats of diplomacy that bring peace to all the world. Are those the visions that are part of that classic American dream of growing up to be President? Apparently not. Michele Rosenfeld, a sixth-grade teacher in East Hartford, Conn., asked her 26 students for essays on "The Day I Became President." For nearly half of the class, it was less a dream than a nightmare: they saw themselves being assassinated.

"One day someone tried to...

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