A New Breed of Politician...
September 12, 2010 3:58pm CST
I guess I should have seen this coming about a decade ago but somehow it's taken me by surprise. It used to be we wanted our politicians to be reasonably intelligent, hopefully even a bit MORE intelligent (or at least more knowledgeable) than the average voter. It used to be that an education from a good university was a GOOD thing, not a disadvantage. It used to be that we wanted our political candidates to be willing to speak to the media and to answer tough questions and not just agree to give interviews to those they know won't challenge anything they say. I'm not sure if it was during the 2000 or 2004 Presidential campaign that it suddenly became important that a candidate not only "feels our pain" but is someone we'd "like to have a beer with". I remember thinking how ridiculous that was, that there are plenty of people I may like to have a beer with that I'd no way want to be the leader of the free world! There have also been some political candidates I may not enjoy "hanging out" with who would still be quite suitable for the jobs they were seeking. I also recall it was also a major issue when 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry had the audacity to order the wrong type of cheese on his cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia! I happen to LOVE brocolli but I didn't hold it against President George H.W. Bush for not sharing my taste! The United States happens to be a ver BIG country and we don't have all the same tastes or the same likes and dislikes; that DOESN'T mean we can't share a desire for what's best for our nation. Anyway, here it is 2010 and it's perfectly fine for candidates and some incumbents to refuse to give interviews or take questions from anyone other than their staunchest supporters in the media, to avoid tough questions in debates and even refuse to participate in debates. They can be quite blatant about this and their supporters don't seem to mind one bit. They can change their positions at will and deny ever saying things that are on tape for the world to hear. It's not necessary for them to prove their knowledge about the issues they'll have to deal with if elected to a high office. All they have to do is memorize a few catch phrases, depending on where they're from, and act like "regular folk". It might have started in a way with former President George W. Bush, of "great to have a beer with" fame but it really took off with Sarah Palin. After being selected as John McCain's running mate in 2008 she did quite well in avoiding giving interviews to "hostile" (not Fox or Limbaugh) members of the media and when the few she did give didn't go so great it was the interviewer's fault she didn't come off very well. She said openly at the start of her debate with V.P. Biden that she wasn't going to answer all the questions. She's definitely become the master of the sound-bite since then and she's learned how to use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate so she doesn't have to answer for anything she says. If anything negative is said about her she simply attacks the messenger - the "lamestream media" as she calls them. Now we have tea-party favorites such as Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Jan Brewer and others following her lead. Representative Michele Bachmann, a sitting Congresswoman who is also a darling of the tea partiers, also now avoids all but the most friendly media members. Along with all this we have a party whose members refuse to say what they intend to do if they regain power and yet they're leading in the polls. In summary, it looks like today's politician doesn't have to know anything, say anything or do anything. Actually, what they do have to say and do is attack the opposition and change the subject if their own positions ever come up. That along with well-rehearsed catch phrases and talking points could give this new breed a majority in Congress. I'm not sure they'll be able to govern on "nothing" though. What do you think? Annie
• United States
13 Sep 10
I think you are very correct in your assumption. What also get me is that if they do have the nerve to give an interview or offer an opinion. Then the next day if what they said does not go over too well then they "misspoke" or insult everyone who disagreed with them.
• United States
17 Sep 10
I agree, pretty much all politicians regardless of party know how to "spin" things and deny saying what they said for the whole world to hear. However, in this instance I'm referring to the current crop of new, "anti-establishment" politicians and candidates. None of them are Democrats or establishment Republicans, they're mostly "tea party" favorites who gain favor simply because they're not part of the status quo. That part is fine, I'm all for new blood and new faces. What bothers me is that many of the supporters of these candidates really don't care about their qualifications for the job they're seeking. They don't care if they don't know a thing about government and they don't care if they're not willing to take questions from anyone who refuses to turn an interview into a campaign rally. At least with those who do interviews we the viewers and voters can decide for ourselves how well they handled the questions and whether or not they were telling the truth or knew what they were talking about. Basically, from what I've been seeing, some of the tea party supporters choose those they think they can relate to. I prefer someone with above average intelligence, a general knowledge of our history and government and the right character and temperament to work with others for the general good of our nation. Annie
• United States
12 Sep 10
Some job need someone who isn't an average joe. I don't need a doctor who I fell like is an average joe, I want an elitist snob taking care of me if this doctor is the best at what he or she does. Same thing with a politician, if he or she would rather watch opera than a football game well that is okay if he or she is the most qualified for to position. Intelligence is a highly sought out quality when I am looking at a candidate and the first tip off that you lack any sort of intelligence is when you cannot present you positions without resorting to catch phrases, aka drill here drill now. Anyone can come up with the next witty bumper sticker, we are not electing people to come up with bumper sticker slogans. Attacking your opponent alone is not a reason to vote for you, you still have to give me a reason to vote for you.