Conservative Republicans have finally called it quits with short-term former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (she lasted just two-and-a-half years in that position before quitting). The final straw, it seems, is the 2008 vice-presidential candidate’s recent speech at the “Iowa Freedom Summit” that has charitably been called “an interminable ramble,” “an extended stream-of-consciousness complaint,” and simply “bizarro.”
So America’s most-famous snowbilly is out of the running for the 2016 Republican nomination. But what about all the other manifestly unqualified novices, jackasses, and publicity hounds that surface every four years when the GOP starts fishing for someone/anyone that can beat whatever sad sack of chum the Democrats toss in the water?
Unlike the Democrats, who never stray far from career politicians when selecting a presidential candidate, Republicans always seem to be looking for some sort of otherworldly savior to waltz in and take the country by storm. Someone unsullied by, you know, much (if any) actual experience in holding office, winning elections, and governing on a daily basis. Though GOP voters typically end up selecting major-state governors (Reagan, Bush II) or long-serving, partly mummified senators (Dole, McCain), they spend a hell of a lot time in primary season dancing with some pretty strange suitors.
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In the past, Republicans have coalesced around such obvious joke candidates as businessman Herman Cain, whose main achievements involved management stints at two of the nation’s most grotesque fast-food chains (Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza), and Alan Keyes, whose resume includes a brief stint as a Reagan appointee to the reviled-by-conservatives United Nations, hosting an ironically titled MSNBC show (Alan Keyes Is Making Sense), and a historic loss to one Barack Obama in the 2004 Illinois Senate race.
That Cain and Keyes are black is no accident. While the GOP struggles to crack double digits in terms of votes from African Americans, the party’s overwhelmingly white membership seems to have an unending appetite for high-profile, successful black men whose very presence on a debate stage softens charges of hostility and indifference to issues about race. This helps explain why The Weekly Standard is officially “Taking Ben Carson Seriously,” as Fred Barnes’ recent cover story puts it.
Even as sycophantic and try-hard a journalist as Fred Barnes admits that Carson has absolutely zero qualifications for and no shot at becoming the Republican nominee. At best, the retired brain surgeon might make a possible surgeon general (of course, a Republican administration truly devoted to shrinking the size, scope, and spending of government would eliminate such a useless position). But Barnes is game to make the case for Carson, employing what George W. Bush once famously chided as the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Carson, after all, “has substantial name identification,” avers Barnes. “He can raise money. His poverty-to-prominence story is compelling. He has a grassroots following. He is fluent on national issues.”
But wait, there’s more! Barnes quotes from an advertorial Carson ran at the right-wing fever-swamp site NewsMax and on DirecTV: “‘You ask him a question and he knows how to answer,’ country musician Ricky Skaggs says on the show. ‘From all indications,’ the narrator says, ‘the sky’s the limit for Dr. Carson.’” He knows how to answer! The sky’s the limit! You can practically see Mike Huckabee shaking his head like LBJ when he supposedly learned that Walter Cronkite had pronounced the Vietnam War a lost cause. When you’ve lost Ricky Skaggs…
–Nick Gillespie. The example of Dwight Eisenhower notwithstanding, if you want to find a good president, you have to search among actual politicians, much in the same way that if you want someone competent to clean and safeguard the health of your teeth, you have to search among actual dentists. Podiatrists, business moguls, architects and tax attorneys won’t be able to do the job.