Poll after poll shows most likely 2012 voters are underwhelmed with our present crop of candidates for president. In both parties. But especially Republicans. Seems the baker’s dozen of oddballs, misfits and assorted nuts on the G-O-P list of possibilities are not to the liking of a lot of prospective balloteers.
The media puts a fine point on this dissatisfaction as those folks continue to search for somebody new by beating the bushes at every opportunity. Sometimes, in moments of extreme absurdity.
When astronaut Mark Kelly – also known as the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords – faced the media at the National Press Club some days ago, one of the soul-stirring questions he had to answer was “Are you going to run for public office?” His too-patient answer to the overwrought inquisitor: “I’m the space guy in the family; she’s the politician.” My response would not have been so kind.
But it’s a question being asked in many, many places. Movie stars, musicians, business honcho’s and a lot of very unqualified, junior politicians. “Are you gonna run for office?” The nation’s fascination with celebrity. Good or bad.
If you can overlook the ignorance of throwing this query at Oprah, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn and Bono, it seems to me the media is simply amplifying the public’s obvious lack of interest in those currently on the political playing field. Especially nationally.
The first Republican state convention or nominating gathering is still months away. The November, 2012, election is almost a year-and-a-half out. So, most polling on any person or issue now is usually regarded as useless. But this subject of lack of voter interest in virtually all of the names may be worth paying attention to. By the parties and by you and me.
Our national political process is fractured and absolutely gridlocked. You can’t get a quorum on the value of motherhood. All the big names you know who have become household words are participants to one degree or another. Most of us find ourselves saying “a pox on all their houses.”
Politics – like nature – will not tolerate a vacuum. So, when the likely candidates are all in disfavor, some of the smaller fry make a professional move. And that’s a major reason why you have so many unknown, untested and unqualified people on the campaign trail. That and the thinking of a lot of better qualified, ought-to-be-candidates who won’t tolerate the messy gauntlet of running for office. Not for themselves or, as we’ve seen recently, for their families.
It’s also a time when the rich try their luck. Like the Romneys and the Huntsmans who can pour millions of their own into self-funding a run for office. Huntsman – a millionaire several times over in a family of millionaires – said in May he wouldn’t do that. “Good for him,” said I. Then his June campaign filing showed his personal check for $2.4 million. Little early in the campaign to break your promises but why put it off.
So, we have a political conundrum. We need good people who won’t run. And we’ve got many unqualified – and worse – who will. And are.
The presidency of this country is largely a “learn-on-the-job” situation. All recent presidents – all of them – have said they thought they knew what they were getting into but found the office and the responsibilities much different and greater than they’d expected. Most have been up to the subsequent challenge. Some haven’t.
So we have a stable of untried, untested merry-go-round horses at a time when this nation needs the best possible leadership to deal with a plate full of major problems. Some of which, if not handled with great skill and exceptional leadership, could sink us in a sea of never-ending debt and fracture our existence as a nation.
And therein lies the problem for so many potential voters. Especially Republicans who are stuck – at least for a year or so – with the naysayers, road-blockers and ideologues in Congress. That means the next president is going to have to generate great respect and herd these sheep with a lot of persuasion and a very big stick. Are any of those now out on the hustings qualified to do that? Any one of them? Is there a Reagan, a Roosevelt, a Johnson, a Kennedy or a Bush The Elder among them? Not likely.
The stakes in the presidential crap shoot are too great for us to make a mistake at the polls. And so far, what we’re being offered seem to be someone else’s political “mistakes.”