Wanted: Republican presidential candidate. Must be tall and have gravitas in his voice. Must convince Americans that it is Morning in America again. Dyed, slicked back hair optional but highly preferred. Former actors and governors preferred. Must be a rich white Republican male. Apply at Republican National Committee.
Good news for disgruntled Republicans: Former senator and Law & Order actor Fred Thompson has decided it is not too late to run for President. Fred belatedly but officially kicked off his campaign last week, spurning a debate with fellow candidates in New Hampshire for a folksy chat with Jay Leno instead. Fred is now hitting the Iowa and New Hampshire campaign trails hard. Desperate Republicans are rushing to check Fred out. They are all wondering the same thing: is Fred our next Ronald Reagan?
Sadly for Republicans, it appears not. To this Democrat, listening and watching Fred last week revealed that he sounds and behaves a lot more like George W. Bush than Ronald Reagan. It is not that Fred does not know how to act. He proved that on Law & Order. What he is missing is the ability to articulate. When handed a script and coached by competent directors, Fred made a convincing district attorney. However, on the stump he comes across as bumbling. He struggles to articulate a coherent message and often reverts to platitudes. His grasp of the facts often is appalling. If he is to be the next Reagan, Republicans will be forced to project a lot more into him than is actually there. His Southern accent and rambling style also reminds me of George W. Bush. After eight years of Bush, I doubt most Republican want to replace Bush with someone who looks and acts a lot like him.
Better to go for someone without the muddled southern drawl, someone more handsome and with better hair. In other words, maybe it is time for Republicans to hold their nose and vote for someone from the liberal northeast, i.e. Mitt Romney. In addition to being handsome, he is also tall and articulate. His Mormon faith is still viewed with suspicion by many Republicans, but at least he is a faithful family man. He has also walked away from conservative principles from time to time, but perhaps these instances can be forgiven. After all, he had to work with a Democratic legislature. Mitt has been through Republican hell and back. At least he has been battle tested.
Although blessed with a huge personal fortune, Mitt may be missing a bit in the style department. This may explain why former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani leads among Republicans in nationwide polls. Unfortunately, he is missing the needed Reagan hair. Perhaps he can talk with William Shatner, who can point him to a place that will give him a good price on a toupee. Among all the candidates, Rudy at least sounds the most like Ronald Reagan. He can swagger without it looking insincere. He may lack Reagan’s self-deprecating style, but he sure knows how to sound sure of himself. If only he were, well, better at being faithful. Maybe it does not matter anymore, since the Republican candidates are rife with questionable moral character issues. Unfortunately, in Rudy’s case there are moral red flags everywhere. Stepping around on the missus can perhaps be forgiven provided it is done with some discretion, but when done so flagrantly it is hard to excuse. Giuliani can at least be given credit for having nerve. Stepping around with another woman and inviting the press to witness it all at least showed he had nothing to hide. Moreover, that gay couple he lived with for a while, well, perhaps they were Log Cabin Republicans. Anyhow, the image of Rudy standing by the ruins of the World Trade Center six years ago with a bullhorn in hand is indelible. He sure looked and sounded commanding at the time. If he became president, clearly Giuliani would not be a limp-wristed Jimmy Carter type who might agonize over tough decisions. Above all a Republican president must charge decisively forward. This apparently is what leadership means to Republicans.
Sam Brownback has great hair but suffers from being in the back of the pack with little in the way of accomplishments. John McCain is reliable but too old and has taken too many controversial positions. Campaign finance reform? How the heck are Republicans supposed to win if they cannot have an uneven playing field?
Then there are all these congressmen running. You know the Republican Party is in deep doo doo if three of their candidates are congressmen. These include Duncan Hunter, Tam Tancredo and Ron Paul. Ron Paul at least is enough of a gadfly to liven up their otherwise dreary presidential debates.
This leaves only Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas. Here is a word of advice for Republicans: if you want a chance of actually winning the presidential contest next year, nominate Huckabee. You can also have a good time with it because he will probably run against Hillary Clinton, and you loath both Bill and Hillary anyhow. It would be karmic justice to nominate him. He followed Bill Clinton as governor of Arkansas and like him was born in Hope, Arkansas. Huckabee also has the advantage (how to put this nicely) of being the only Republican candidate who comes across as mainstream rather than extreme.
Sadly, although he has nice hair he neither looks nor sounds much like Reagan. So Republicans need to give the Reagan thing a rest. Perhaps by applying enough voltage to Reagan’s grave he will emerge in a zombified state to lead the free world again. Perhaps he could even run for president again. I am sure our newly conservative Supreme Court that could issue an appropriate ruling.
Jesus came back from the dead but Ronald Reagan does not appear to have his powers. Therefore, Republicans will just need to accept the sad fact that there is no new Ronald Reagan waiting in the wings out there. Even if there were, America is not the same country it was in 1980. Cherish his memory. Overlook his mistakes. Perhaps you can carve his image on Mount Rushmore. Reagan can perhaps be impersonated, but he cannot be equaled. It is time to give up the foolish Reagan fantasies and to make your best pitch from the candidates you have.