One night on the campaign trail in 1992, running against Bill Clinton, his Oprah-esque “I feel your pain” statements, and goofy proto-emo sycophants like the infamous ponytail guy, George H.W. Bush “literally read his stage direction off a cue card, like Ron Burgundy in ‘Anchorman,’ proclaiming ‘Message: I care,'” Jonah Goldberg writes in his latest column. “I always wondered if, afterwards, some aide had to tell him, ‘Sir, you were supposed to convey that message, not literally read it out loud.'” Similarly, regarding Bob Dole’s promise to be the next Gipper four years later, all the way up to the GOP’s current crop of presidential candidates, Jonah adds:
If you want to be the next Ronald Reagan, be the next Ronald Reagan. Don’t tell people, “Starring in the role of Ronald Reagan tonight will be…” Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or whoever’s turn it is at the podium.
I’ve heard nearly every 2016 wannabe tell conservative audiences about the importance of optimism. Jeb Bush is particularly high on it these days. He says the nominee must be “joyful.” I agree. But stop telling me about the need for joyfulness and start showing me some frickin’ joy!
One of the main reasons Republicans read their stage direction, I think, is that they see politics as a game. And, as a game, they don’t take it as seriously as those who see politics as an obsession or even a religion.
This speaks well of them as human beings because it suggests that, unlike a lot of liberal Democrats, they don’t think politics — and by extension government — is everything and all-important. That’s a trait I want in a president. But it’s a real problem in a presidential candidate.
So please, more show, less tell.
And just about every potential Democrat candidate for the White House the GOP will be running against in 2016 absolutely believes in politics as their religion. Which dovetails well with Paul Mirengoff’s new post at Power Line: “Will 2016 resemble 1968 for Democrats?”
While it would take the Carter administration another decade to infamously put a name to it, 1968 was when he anti-progress malaise mindset became a permanent fixture of the American left’s presidential bids. In other words, with the arguable exception of the aforementioned 1992, doesn’t every presidential election year resemble 1968 for Democrats?