A Real Person for President
I have recently been reading biographies of some of the Founders: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, John and Samuel Adams, remarkable men who gave us an enduring gift. Together they were an Atlas raising the world higher. The title "The Greatest Generation" belongs to them. The World War II generation (my father's) will have to accept an honorable and respectful second place.
Yet the remarkable founders of our country were, like the rest of us, fallible human beings who made mistakes, errors of judgment, and sometimes had moral lapses. Their faults in no way negate their accomplishments. To say no accomplishment is worthy due to lack of perfection would be to erase history.
Were the Founders to participate in a modern political campaign, or a televised debate, we might be left with the same feelings we have about the current field of Republican candidates: alas, not a perfect one among them! Especially if they had to field questions seemingly from King George III! Not only might their answers, faults, or past errors tarnish them, but none of them would have that perfect TV image.
Since Richard Nixon's five-o'clock shadow betrayed him in the debate with John F. Kennedy, the selection of a president has a lot to do with image. Unlike Nixon, JFK had a movie-star quality that, we were led to believe, would produce miracles just as in the movies. In deference to the miracle, his administration was referred to as Camelot. No faults were allowed lest they ruin the image. That would be like the film breaking in the middle of the movie. The importance of image has been paramount ever since, which is probably what drove John Edwards's visits to the beauty shop. Judging from their portraits, many of the Founders would never have made it in today's contests. They just didn't have the movie-star look.
In the 2008 election, an image won the presidential election: a man with a radical past whose primary skill was the ability to speak eloquently and say nothing. But he had the right crease in his pants and some chiseled pecs, and he was running against an honorable candidate whose age and slightly offset jaw gave him a less-than-movie-star look. Obama was the essence of a packaged, plastic TV candidate, right down to the fake Greek columns -- the star of a TV drama. The adoring media dared not find any fault. Faults might melt the plastic and spoil the ending of the movie.
The left's continual quest for Mr. Perfect seemed to have borne fruit at last. Only Mr. Perfect can create utopia. Mere mortals have disastrously failed each time they have tried, with a legacy of millions of victims. Only a perfect person can tell the rest of us what to do. Who will obey someone who is merely human just like us? The left (who yearn to tell us how to live) cannot give up the fantasies of Mr. Perfect and utopia, for together, these are the foundation of statist philosophy.
Clues to character can be found in the face, but it isn't as simple as the good-guy look in the movies. Image doesn't trump character. While it is the voter's solemn responsibility to evaluate the character, integrity, and underlying philosophy of a candidate, it is not necessary to perceive perfection.
Now, in 2012, faults of the president are still off-limits. He remains un-melted plastic, a Ken doll, a creation needed to believe in utopia. All of the Republican candidates for president (the media is eager to show us) have faults. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will be less than ideal, less than perfect. Don't be uncomfortable. We shouldn't be expecting perfection; it doesn't exist.
Many of my generation, who now stand proudly with the Founders, experimented with the ideas of the left. Some even inhaled. Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat. He even starred in some bad movies.
Imperfect as they are, none of the Republican candidates will lead us into tyranny. To vote for one of them is to vote for the values of the Founders, or at least start going in that direction.
It is said that before you die, your life flashes before you. Being older, my life has been flashing before me for several years now, a seemingly endless review of past mistakes and stupid decisions. I never realized there were so many -- no presidential possibilities here! I find myself ill-equipped to cast the first stone. Having secured a little wisdom in my old age, I can see through the left's Mr. Perfect game. Voting for Mr. Perfect is like an independent adult cleaning the chimney for Santa. You still won't get a present.
So the 2012 presidential election will be a flawed (human) candidate versus a packaged plastic one. The media will continue to find faults. The other side will smear. Flaws in the packaged, plastic president will somehow elude "investigative journalists." A candidate who takes responsibility for past mistakes is at least honest and can probably be trusted. One unwilling to admit ever making a mistake cannot. Never mind that your candidate has faults -- what is at stake is too important. For me, it would be refreshing to have a president who is a real person.
Gary Horne is a retired engineer and the creator of barbershopvalues.com.