By Andy Weddington
Friday, 13 May 2011
"Any man who has the brains to think and the nerve to act for the benefit of the people of the country is considered a radical by those who are content with stagnation and willing to endure disaster."
William Randolph Hearst
In 2008 a novice senator with a peculiar, hardly household, name, no substantive record, and thin resume--Ivy League sheepskins, questionable associates, no military service, no business or executive experience, and secreting a certificate to prove his skin was born in America--was elected President of these United States. How? Reality. TV.
Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, like him or not, is reality.
And Mr. Obama--aka: "44"--meets Hearst's definition of radical but interpretation is different depending on point of view.
With about eighteen months before the next election a couple handfuls of folks aim to be 45.
Five gathered for debate last week in Greenville, South Carolina.
Some already household names. Some not.
Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, and Tim Santorum, like them or not, are reality.
And they, too, meet Hearst's definition of radical but interpretation is different depending on point of view.
Other radicals with household names--i.e., Bachmann, Huckabee, Palin, Romney, Trump--have hinted, some stronger than others, at interest in the presidency though now only in the "exploratory" stage. Whatever that means. None of them opted to participate in last week's debate.
Mr. Newt Gingrich entered the arena a couple days ago.
Mrs. Palin, Mr. Daniels, and Mr. Christie lurkers?
Who knows the looming mix. It's early.
The Reality TV show--the debate--was moderated, not judged, by a polished panel of four from Fox News Channel. Absent were Coca-Cola bottles and cans and backdrop advertising, and flashing strobbing lights and thumping music. Okay to the appropriate applause and occasional hoot and holler. How refreshing not to hear contestants called "man" and "dude," gratuitous giggling, and f'-bombs.
I watched the debate, post debate analysis, and wrap-up interviews with the radicals. Interesting.
In no particular order, and partisan to none as any citizen who braves a step forward in the name of public service merits respect and civility, a quick and dirty broad brush on each.
Ron Paul. Name recognition. Candidate for president 2008. Considered a, if not the, founder of the Tea Party. U. S. Air Force/National Guard for five years. Opposes Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT). Now critical of bin Laden take down. Loopy. Nuts. Irreversibly tainted by long tenure in politics. Too old--if elected, nearly 78 before taking office. Nope.
Rick Santorum. Who? Maybe a household name in the keystone state and in D.C. but not nationwide. Politician. Representative now Senator from Pennsylvania. Lawyer. No military service. Pro EIT to include waterboarding. Too many syllables in last name--last president, not counting present, with more than two was Kennedy. Nope.
Tim Pawlenty. Who? Maybe a household name at home and in D.C. but not nationwide. Politician. Former Representative Minnesota House and two-term governor. Lawyer. No military service. Pro EIT to include waterboarding. Slick. Rehearsed. Eddie "Yes, Mrs. Cleaver" Haskell comes to mind. Like Santorum, too many syllables in last name. Though America's tired of career pols, some think a contender. Nope.
Gary Johnson. Who? A household name in New Mexico--maybe. Politician. Former two-term governor New Mexico. Businessman. No military service. Opposes EIT. Is this Fred Grandy's(Gopher--Love Boat) brother? And why was he not in cruise ship staff summer whites--shorts with knee socks? Threw tactful but "Gopherish" tantrum when felt not being asked enough questions. Two syllable last name. Thank you for applying and fun while it lasted but the cruise is over. Dry dock the ship. Nope.
Herman Cain. Who? Definitely a household name in his home and probably next door neighbors. Maybe even the entire neighborhood. Certainly a "politician" but not a politician--never held elected office. Businessman. No military service. Some work experience with Department of the Navy. Pro EIT to include waterboarding. Personable. Straight-talk. Sensible. Single syllable last name. Who knows, stranger things have happened--see opening paragraph.
The focus group--largely white but spanning generations, queried by political consultant and pollster Frank Lutz post-debate, was overwhelmingly warm to Cain and his folksy, plain-speak style. And his thoughts and words, not Beltway dopiness and doubletalk, their brand of comprehensible English--the brand most Americans speak.
Hermain Cain now a household name--nationwide. Idiots--there's always 10%--will confuse with John McCain.
The aforementioned no-show radicals do not merit comment--yet. Nor do other lurking radicals.
A not-so-subtle take-away gleaned from the debate but not addressed as a potential obstacle--beyond floundering economy, fattening deficit, and thus far an over-promised/under delivered tenure (the face of reality always trumps dillusions)--for Mr. Obama...
Not necessarily Mr. Cain but "a Mr. Cain."
Bluntly and admittedly a sad statement--reality--the black vote.
Mr. Obama enjoyed 95% of the black vote in the 2008 election. It's no secret the greater percentage casted his direction for no other reason than race. Not opining, complaining, nor necessarily care, just reporting the data. Call it racism or loyalty--label matters not. Whatever. It is what it is. Ho hum. Pardon the yawn. Though the black vote solely did not elect Mr. Obama it sure didn't hurt. Regardless, the color dynamic is not going to change--it'll remain a relevant factor. And maybe with some surprising consequences. There are always surprises.
As yet, there's been no direct public mention much less discussion--by analysts, professionals, pundits--of the possible dynamic. Ah for the ginormous polka-dotted elephant hogging the room but everyone tolerates to avoid being falsely assaulted as a bigot. But it'd be nothing less than incompetence if political consultants and strategists are not already on top of it--digging and brain-storming courses of action while praying it never materializes.
And what if three candidates are on the ballot? The much more fascinating triumvirate with two black.
There's no denying a GOP, or third party, black candidate would make life problematic for our sitting president. Casually dismissing such naive.
And a factor still if a popular black is on a ticket as vice president.
Beyond 'incumbency does not entitlement make' nothing more need be said other than there'd be a perfectly legitimate, superficial or substantive, Obama "out." Simple as that. And an "out" that extends beyond the black vote. Think Hispanic. There's a quote going around that goes, "You voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you're not a racist. Who will you vote for in 2012 to prove you're not an idiot?" Perhaps off-color but there's going to be some truth to it. Count on it.
Of course it's more complicated. It always is. But all things considered, as least as they stand today, it (race) would matter not one iota. The right radical would have better than a 50/50 chance of ousting the sitting radical. But in 12, 15 months it just might matter. A lot.
But no matter what, the closer November 2012 and the Grand Prize, presidential debates are going to be America's most popular Realty TV. Really. Coke bottles and cans and dazzling light shows and thumping music might appear. Some radicals may even drop an f-bomb--one already did during a speech a couple of weeks back and his image tarnished. Affirmation that being foul-mouthed--pitchy or pithy, speaking or singing, can be fatal.
Now if only the national audience will be afforded 866 numbers to participate. Let callers, texters, tweeters, and Facebookers decide which radicals stand in subsequent debates. Why not? The pols--the radicals--ever praise "intelligent Americans," if only patronizingly. But do not the folks usually get it right on Reality TV shows--at least some of the time?
And, oh by the way, Mr. Gingrich announced his entrance on Facebook and Twitter.
And yet with all that said, who's next sitting in the Oval Office?
Yes, of course, a "Hearstian" radical.
Now we wait. Watch TV. And participate. To see if that radical will be...
Even or odd--44 or 45?
Black or white?
Red not likely.
Somebody will always be blue.
Others a sick shade of envy green.
Stay tuned. This is going to be fun. A lot of fun.
And it's on TV--all the time.
Don't forget the popcorn--yellow popcorn.
No Coke. Or Pepsi.
"No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it." Thomas Jefferson
Were it possible to solicit Mr. Jefferson's thoughts on Mr. Hearst's opener perhaps he would opine, '...less of a radical.' Most likely.