Back then, were kings like the president?
They were the political leader of their people, but they generally came to power due to blood lines unless they were all wiped out and God picked someone else.
Other than being the leader, there wasn't much semblance to what presidents are today. 1 Sam. 8:5-19 was God's prediction of the types of kings Israel would have and what they would do. His predictions came true in all respects.
Some were reasonably good and benevolent rulers most of the time, but many were really bad.