Allow me to explain.
As early as tomorrow, former Democratic golden child John Edwards could be indicted on Federal charges on accusations of misusing campaign money to cover up his love child with Rielle Hunter during his 2008 bid for Presidency. Edwards' fall from grace in the matter of three short years shows just how vicious and volatile the political arena is -- especially when you're doing wrong -- and further underscores how reputation and not issues matter more in the early days of stumping.
GOP Hopeful 1: Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker of the House announced his candidacy on twitter, youtube, and later FOX. When he announced he was framed as the savior of the GOP, sure to win the Presidential nomination on name alone. I mean the man did serve as House Speaker during one of the most progressive times in our Nation's economic history; 1995-199. But as I said it is reputation that matters more than issues right now, and Mr. Gingrich has quite the reputation.
Immediately after Gingrich announced his candidacy for President there were numerous articles about how he would have to overcome his past womanizing ways which include several marriages and adultery. (See here and here) Then there was that whole unpaid Tiffany's bill and lets not forget his calling Obama "the most successful food stamp President in modern American history."
Gingrich may have good ideas to move the country forward but his past haunts him in ways that overshadows any progressive possibilities he may posit for the country. It's kind of like all the rump shaker videos Uncle Luke made in the heyday of rump shaking that live forever on video, forever hanging over his head, quickly killing any and all aspirations of becoming Mayor of Miami despite his well crafted platform and quick study of local policy.
But Gingrich isn't the only candidate for 2012 with a troubling reputation. There are also the warrior women, er ugh... Momma Grizzlies, as well as my main man Mitt, three times a charmer Ron Paul, the nobody's heard of me or what I've done Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and "The Herminator."
GOP Hopeful 2: Sarah Palin. The former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate launched an ambiguous bus tour over the weekend. She showed up in Washington D.C. Sunday for the Rolling Thunder rally but then she didn't talk to the press. She unveiled a feature length film about herself, her lifestyle, and her beliefs for America, plans to speak in New Hampshire, but remains mum about whether or not she'll run. Known as the pretty lady who knocked the popularity from Barack's black man running for President schtick, Palin as of late has been more of a rabble rouser (a Flavor Flav of politics if you will) than a potential Presidential candidate. She gets the crowd hype until the real contenders come out and rock the mic.
There's no doubting Palin's popularity or influence. One tweet, one status update, one snarky remark caught on camera and she's viral all over again. But that's just it. Palin's popularity works both for and against her. It helps justify her stepping down as Governor of Alaska to make more money as a reality TV star, political pundit, and all out political celebrity. However, it doesn't help her in the fight to become President of the United States. As we all know, popularity and populism does not a President make. She must also be well read, understand that the conflicts in the Middle East are not the same, and that just by making an appearance in Jerusalem does not mean you are equipped to take on the endless task of coercing Israel to talk to the Palestinians about being peaceful one week at a time.
The same goes for Michele Bachmann. GOP Hopeful 3. She may be serving in Congress as a Representative of the smartest people in the country but as many of the last policy fights have shown becoming a member of Congress is not about being smart. Becoming a member of Congress has nothing to do with intelligence but everything to do with timing, money, and backing.
At this time Bachmann is another Flavor Flav for conservatives. She gets the crowd hype, but even when she is the main attraction she loses credibility quickly when inaccurately quoting history. That leaves me (and hopefully you too) to wonder "How accurate will she be if elected Commander in Chief in coordinating the future?" If you can't get right what's already happened how will you ever have the foresight to get right what remains unknown? Say what you want about me for holding the past against her but it's her job to know the history of the country, to know the Constitution, so the mistakes of our past do not become the mistakes of our future. Unfortunately it's frighteningly obvious that she does not know her history and therefore should not be trusted with crafting the future.
GOP Hopeful 4: Mitt Romney. He's run before and lost. Now he's polling ahead of all the others in another campaign to lead the country; but there's just one small problem. He passed Obamacare before Obama and therefore can't be trusted among conservatives to remain conservative because he may do something socially progressive, he may do something to benefit the underserved and oft forgotten people of this country which is wholly unconservative. Talk about a past reputation coming back to bite you in the butt when you're trying hard to land at the head of the pack instead of dusted in the back on your bum.
GOP Hopeful 5: Ron Paul suffers from what I like to call RPS or Ross Perot Syndrome. Good Intentions. Bad Judgment. Someday soon he and his son Rand will know that their libertarian, sometimes racist positions on issues may be good enough to win them seats in Congress and launch political careers but remain too polarizing to ever be taken seriously by mainstream America. Then again, I could be wrong as I received four emails at work over the weekend for not covering Ron Paul in a story about GOP 2012 candidates.
GOP Hopefuls 6 & 7: The reputations of Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum are that they are the former Governors of Minnesota and Pennsylvania respectively. While they have executive experience, there is nothing about them that screams controversy, or groundbreaking policy. They are at best forgettable candidates in a field of prospective nominees more colorful than they could ever imagine to be.
GOP Hopeful 8: That leaves us with Herman Cain. That black man running for President on the Republican side with a strong Tea Party backing. Reading his background he immediately reminds me of Joe the Plumber. An entrepreneur, albeit a much more successful one, whose gripe about universal healthcare in '90's was that he could not afford to provide it for his employees. (The gripe of all entrepreneurs) This gripe he publicly made known to then President Bill Clinton and now thanks himself for singlehandedly helping to kill "Hillary Care" which catapulted him onto national political stages.
Herman Cain did well at the Republican debate nobody watched but does that mean he can argue politics against the man who turned the phrase "Yes We Can" into an iTunes chart topper (with a little help from Will.I.Am) for the iPod generation to listen to while they wait for the bus?
Right now the GOP 2012 field is filled with candidates who all undoubtedly believe they can and will unequivocally defeat President Obama, Obamacare, his job killing agenda, and his indecisive foreign policy. It is great for them to hold on to these beliefs as one day, some day, they may turn into reality, however in my eyes GOP 2012 looks like a field filled with dreamers who have yet to learn that everything old is new again and in terms of their past behavior, and reputations, that does not bode well for their future aspirations of leading the free world.
Questions: Of the Candidates listed do you think any of them should run for office? Who would you like to see run for office?