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Elites play game used on presidents from Washington to Bush.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting is not very bright.
In fact, dumb as a post is a more accurate if blunt assessment..
Does this describe Sarah Palin? Yes — if you choose to listen to the Inside-the-Beltway elites. But just in case she doesn’t run for or win the nomination, don’t worry. Whoever the GOP nominates will quickly assume this “too dumb to be president” role — bestowed by many of the same people.
Because this “too dumb to be president” argument is precisely the same-old, same-old argument from liberal elites about Republican presidents or prospective presidents for decades. The argument is particularly relished when it comes to describing conservatives like the former Alaska governor. But even GOP moderates can never escape this tag once they morph from unannounced candidate (and therefore not a political threat to liberalism) to actual frontrunner, nominee or, God forbid, the actual president.
Barry Goldwater, the first modern conservative to win a GOP presidential nomination in 1964, would have been lucky to be tagged as being merely too dumb to be president. He was also said to be, according to Time magazine, “psychologically unfit to be president,” “emotionally unstable,” “immature,” “cowardly,” “grossly psychotic,” “paranoid,” a “mass murderer,” “amoral and immoral,” a “chronic schizophrenic” and “dangerous lunatic.” One psychiatrist breezily announced Goldwater had a “strong identification with the authoritarianism of Hitler, if not identification with Hitler himself.”
Reagan, also pegged as a war-monger, was called an “extremist” at the beginning of his political career and an “amiable dunce” just after his election to the presidency. They were a mere blip in the cascade of insults about his intelligence hurled in Reagan’s direction over almost a quarter century as a serious American politician. This particular man who was “too dumb to be president” won the Cold War without, as Margaret Thatcher said, firing a shot. Not to mention launching the American economy on a path to creating some 50 million jobs over the next three decades.
But I digress.
Perhaps the most instructive case of “too dumb to be president” is that of Gerald Ford. Elected to Congress in 1948, a man with a ready smile and outgoing personality, Ford had won rave reviews from the liberal press when he challenged the House Republican Old Guard following Goldwater’s defeat, becoming Minority Leader. All the way through his House career, and on into his surprise accession-by-appointment to the vice presidency following the resignation of liberal bête noire Spiro Agnew, the moderate Republican Ford was pictured as good-ole smiling Jerry, the steady, smart House leader who had not an enemy in the world. He played golf with his old pal House Democratic leader Tip O’Neill. Just a nice, smart, swell guy, said the press.
Then a funny thing happened to good old Jerry Ford. In the wake of Watergate he became president with Nixon’s resignation. Within a month he pardoned his predecessor, believing (correctly) that until the nation had rid itself of the Watergate/Nixon obsession he, Ford, would have an impossible time getting things done as president. Nothing dumb there. Ford had no sooner announced the pardon and disappeared from the television air waves than the re-positioning of Ford by the liberal media had begun. The man who had graduated from Yale Law School and been the epitome of openness and hard work was, in the blink of an eye, dumb as a post and a conniving liar to boot. Up from the mists came a Lyndon Johnson quote saying that Ford the college grid star had played too much football without a helmet. An on-camera tumble on the slippery steps leading down from the door of Air Force One led to the depiction of the most athletic president since Teddy Roosevelt as a bumbling fool. On a new program called Saturday Night Live, an unknown writer/actor named Chevy Chase rocketed to fame portraying Ford as dumbly prone to hilarious stumbles and dramatic falls over all manner of furniture. Chase anticipated the Tina Fey as empty-headed Sarah Palin routine by decades.
Then there’s the Romney saga.
That would be George Romney, not Mitt, George’s son.
George Romney was a liberal Republican, a spectacularly successful business executive as the chairman of American Motors. On the strength of his dazzling business career he was elected Governor of Michigan, where he became a popular political figure with both voters and the national press.
Then a funny thing happened to George Romney. In 1967 he began running for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination. The polls showed he was the man-to-beat for the nomination, the one man in the Republican Party who could take on and beat LBJ, the same LBJ who beat Goldwater in 1964 by a landslide. Then, returning from a fact-finding trip to Vietnam, Romney incautiously allowed as to how he had been “brain-washed” by the Johnson administration on Vietnam. And…. bam.
Within a media cycle the brilliant business executive and innovative Governor of Michigan had become — you guessed it — an idiot too dumb to be president. The dumb-as-a-post tag hung around his neck by a media concerned that old George was making just a little bit too much progress and that Tricky Dick, as they called Richard Nixon, would be easier to beat. Romney was finished. His last stint in government was not the White House but the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in Nixon days the equivalent of political Siberia.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?