by Jamie Beckett —
It will come as no surprise if I were to report that a person who is often in the news said something stupid today. Some will immediately think of Mitt Romey’s 47 percent comment, I’m sure. Others will reflect on Barak Obama’s claim to have visited 57 of the 58 United States. It makes no difference. When mouths open, goofy words can come out. It happens to everyone. It’s worse when recording devices are rolling, though. What would have been a regrettable but forgettable slip in Lincoln’s time is now a permanent part of the historical record. It is the journalistic equivalent of collecting lint – pointless. But at least we’re doing something, right?
No, we’re not. And the fact that we think we are is truly sad. We’re cheapening the political process and limiting our options by constantly trying to find the perfect, Teflon coated, squeaky clean candidate who never misspeaks, never missteps, never over-reaches, and never postulates on the future incorrectly.
Heaven forbid if we were to seriously consider a candidate who doesn’t espouse his everlasting love for his (or her) mate. Or jump at every chance they get to go out back and throw the ball around with their kids, or grandkids.
Are those the qualities that really make a good president, or governor, or mayor, or supervisor of elections? I don’t think so. No, wait. I take that back. They aren’t at all. They’re merely feel-good distractions from the real issues and challenges of the job. Something that can be spun when there’s nothing of substance to share.
We as a culture could use a reality check. These candidates are just men (and women). They do not possess the ability to answer every question thrown their way in the most eloquent or accurate terms. They’ve got no super-powers. They’re not immune to the ravages of bacterial or viral infections. They were all dumped by somebody cute in high school or college. Many of them had poor batting averages when they played in Little League. It’s possible one or two of them even wet their pants as youngsters. In short, they’re regular old run-of-the-mill people, not much different than you or me.
I know it’s not fashionable to suggest such a ridiculous thing, but what if we started focusing more on the body of work and less on the last sentence out of their mouths? Wouldn’t it be an interesting debate if instead of challenging the candidates to recite mind-numbing lists of statistics, we posed a hypothetical challenge and asked, “Given today’s political environment, how would you go about accomplishing that goal?”
Now that would be illuminating, even if the candidate did step on his (or her) tongue a couple times as they fumbled for an answer. At least we’d know how they think and their understanding of the processes available to them should they be fortunate enough to be elected. And wouldn’t that be a good aspect of the candidate’s personality to understand when you’re hiring for an executive or legislative position?
Yeah, it would.