James Joyner makes a pretty restrained version of a point I’m sure we’ll be seeing from other pundits once they’ve passed through the five stages of mourning Mitch Daniels’ candidacy:
It’s long been cliché that the process drives out all the good candidates and that anyone who would willingly subject himself and his family to their process has proven he shouldn’t be president. Neither are quite true. We continue to get outstanding people to run for high office every cycle. But it’s surely true that we run off a large number of people who would otherwise like to serve and be good at it.[…] Maybe we’ll come to the point, as our European cousins did long ago, where we stop expecting our political leaders to also serve as spiritual leaders. While personal foibles naturally color our judgment of a candidate’s character and fitness for office, and some conduct is sufficiently odious to be a disqualifier, the notion that every detail of their life –from longago bumps in their marriage to what kind of mustard they like–is our business is counterproductive.
I agree that this stuff is counterproductive, but I also have to note that Democrats have nominated, and the public has elected, a guy who had a whole host of issues with philandering, and a black man with a funny name who admitted to drug use in his youth. The former was a was hounded and impeached by Republicans over lying about his sexual history, and the latter’s name and race had the 27 percenters convinced that he ran for office on a fake birth certificate. So I don’t think it’s “the process” that needs to be examined here, but rather what Republicans will accept from their candidates. I doubt that Daniels was going to be a great campaigner or the eventual nominee, but we’ll never know because he knew he couldn’t pass his party’s purity test.
Frankensteinbeck (The ex-Uloborus)
Am I the only person who thinks these folks are not dropping out because of anything to do with the primary? They’re dropping out because they know they’ve got a snowball’s chance in Hell of beating Obama, and failed Republican presidential candidates rapidly become McCain Who?
Is it the purity tests of the tea party and social conservatives or do the “better” candidates just think that the country is pretty fucked up right now? Do they think that it’s going to take a metric shit load of work to get stuff going in the right direction again and that they would prefer to sit this one out and take a surer bet in 2016?
the GOP twice-nominated a former alcoholic and failed businessman, who admitted past marijuana use, and would not deny past cocaine use.
What is this I keep hearing muttered about Daniels’ personal life? His wife left him at some point, and later she came back? Sure, that’s embarrassing on some level, but can someone explain what I’m missing about this story that would make it a topic of conversation for more than 5 minutes?
jaysus….the guy WAS FIVE FOOT THREE INCHES TALL.
He was NEVER electable in America.
Maybe in the land of Oz he could have been president of the munchkin nation.
Why can’t anyone just say it?
I’m sure there are a number of repubs who would like to serve. Name one who’d be good at it.
@Frankensteinbeck (The ex-Uloborus): McCain who … Shows up every week on the teevee sunday wankathons.
@Steve: You might check doghouse riley’s blog. He’s been on the daniels beat for a while.
I don’t think it’s the foibles per se, but the incessant scrutiny by the media. I don’t think it’s the system’s fault but rather the population’s – as you say – if the reporting of such foibles wasn’t so interesting to the population (and disqualifying in some cases), then the media would spend their money trying to do something else (one hopes).
But, isn’t that the same for any politician in any country? The issue that strikes me as more eliminating good candidates is that President of the USA doesn’t pay as well as, say, a partner in a top law firm; and is much much harder work.
Our European cousins might have stopped expecting their political leaders to also serve as spiritual leaders, but Americans, via the mythology of the Protestant Work Ethic expect their government (and politcal leaders) to be a reflection of their moral faith in God.
One has only to look at John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” where he admonished the future Massachusetts Bay colonists that their new community would be a “city upon a hill, watched by the world.” Winthrop’s sermon gave rise to the widespread belief in American folklore that the United States of America is God’s country because metaphorically it is a Shining City upon a Hill, an early example of American exceptionalism.
The resultant attitude drawn from a concretized belief in such a metaphor is that a leader of “God’s country” ought to be moral.
Villago Delenda Est
Not only that, his military record was filled with gaps and questionable actions about simply showing up for duty, and his record as a businessman was filled with failure and bankruptcy.
Yet that same guy lies repeatedly about sending men and women to war, and the godbothered don’t even fucking blink about it. That’s a far greater moral failing, in my view, than infidelity or substance abuse. Yet he’s given a pass because he’s a “good Christian”.
no, like it or not the FIRST criteria in America is APPEARANCE. The genetic mosaic of Thomas Jefferson, Jesus Christ and Solomon could run for president in America and if he was 5’3″ HE WOULD GET NOWHERE.
Look at McCain. He’s 5’6″ in his doctors report.
Palin would have towered over him in her naughty monkees (shez 5’7″) except he wore 3 inch lifters. Wiki claims 5’9″. His biographer says 5′ 8″ or 5’9″. NO PUNDIT TALKS SERIOUSLY ABOUT HEIGHT.
Because it makes America look like the land of shallow.
So fucking what. We are shallow. We are stupid.
@cleek: Yes, but he was born again. That’s all that matters.
you say that, but Tony Blair’s shining moment was when he allegedly captured the country’s mood when Princess Diana dies, calling her the People’s Princess – and one reason why Gordon Brown was so unpopular was that albeit he was good on policy he just wasn’t that likeable.
Villago Delenda Est
So is Jimmy Carter. It was a HUGE deal when Carter was running for President. Remember that interview he gave for Playboy, in which he admitted to “lust in his heart” and the media went fucking apeshit over it?
Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan date rapes some woman in Hollywood and the media is all “nothing to see here, move along.”.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
fuck this argument all to hell, it presupposes that mitchie would have run, if not for the meanies in the press and the comedians who out work them.
so its a plea, for a game of soft toss from the media, fuck. and, that.
i am pretty sure, daniels campaign was fatally flawed the moment he had to run on bush’s economic record, the elephant in the room the elephants will try to ignore, post hoc ergo propter hoc, its obama now dude, style.
the reality is, daniels provides too easy a counter-point.
his personal life is purely bullshit to soften it up for the next contestant.
Maybe something about our process weeds out some good people would otherwise run, but that’s nothing compared to how our media controls the range of acceptable discussion. The latter is far more damaging to this country.
I fully expect Daniels to run in 2016. He’s a very smart pol, and nobody with any brains is going to run against Obama.
His height means a lot less now, in the time of TV close-ups than it did 50 or 100 years ago. His people could stage manage the debates and other such events so that it would hardly be noticed.
His Arabian heritage on the other hand….
@cleek: Not to split hairs, but no such thing as a former alcoholic. That one’s for life, with or without recovery.
Agree with those who think Daniels’ personal life had little to do with his dropping out. The GOP is expert at overlooking marital bumps in candidates they otherwise want. The most recent and obvious example is McCain, who traded his wife for a trophy model after his wife had loyally kept the home fires burning during his long stint as a POW. I still can’t believe that was such a non-issue, but it was.
He’s descended from horses?
Not to mention Daniels looks like one of the Mole Men from Superman. Could it be?
There’s more than one audience for political news. Some people are interested in the wonk and the policy and the genuine scientifically measurable metrics of progress. Some people want to see the horse-race and hear about how their team is winning. Some people are just out to catch the freak show.
Unfortunately, horse-race and team-sport politics brings in more viewers per dollar spent. And freak show politics brings in WAY more viewers per dollar spent. Actual investigative journalism, asking candidates hard questions so that they don’t want to interview you, cultivating relationships with party insiders without becoming a party insider yourself – these things are HARD. And expensive. And they don’t bring in so many extra eyeballs that the networks turn a big profit off of viewership.
The corporate media spends its money where it thinks it will get the most bang for its buck. Old-school idealized journalism will NEVER get the ratings to justify its cost. If you’re waiting for the system to fix itself, you’re waiting for Godo. Not gonna happen.
Oh for fuck’s sake, in what fucking universe is someone who helped run the nation into record debt an “outstanding” person to run for high office? On what fucking planet is someone with his actual record as OMB Director and misogynistic, union-busting governor of Indiana even remotely “good at” serving?
What the living, flying fuck is the deal with these people and their fascination with putting wreck-America-first sociopaths in high office? What the hell is wrong with them??
@arguingwithsignposts: Haven’t you heard how much Brownie loves him? It’s kind of creepy, to tell the truth…
Oh, and this, about Clinton:
@Ash Can: When the third baseman and I did GOTV work for Obama in “liberal” Indy before the 2008 election, we were astounded at how many yards sported both Obama and Daniels signs. Not knowing anything much about Daniels, we picked the brains of the local campaign staff and residents to learn that he had significant crossover appeal at that time. I’ve often wondered what those same people would say today.
@Ghanima Atreides: Not to mention, the dude’s Arab. To normal, mentally healthy people, this is not a problem. However, after the long-form birth certificate disaster, it’s plainly evident that the slightest hint of brown-ness is deeply troublesome to those people.
None of them want to be sacrificial lambs to That Brown One In Charge, anyway. Daniels, Pawlenty, Trump, et al might be willing to risk the primary if there was some way in hell that they’d win a general, but that’s a lot of hard work just to lose anyway.
Don’t forget IOKIYAR.
Villago Delenda Est
This, this, this.
The purpose of our news media is not to inform. It’s to gather eyeballs to cater to the media’s true customers, the advertisers, who are looking to reach the broadest possible audience.
Never forget that you, the television viewer, are the product the networks are selling to their true customers, the advertisers. The ones who actually fund their operation.
Anyone who thinks that any of the neworks’ news divisions give a rat’s ass about anything but their ratings is living in a past when the networks were willing to have news divisions that lost money, because they wanted the “prestige” to soften their image as nothing more than electronic carnival barkers.
The gloves are off. It’s all about the filthy lucre.
They have / had royalty for that purpose. The head of state in England, Sweden, Spain, etc. is not the head of the government. They are separate positions entirely. In England and other countries with royalty, the King / Queen is the head of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of the government.
In countries without royalty, they usually have some form of government where the President us head of state and Prime Minister is the head of government.
The U.S. is unique in that we combine the head of state and the head of the government into one person and position, the President.
I think Daniels’ bigger problem–especially as the GOP is frothing over the national debt and deficit–is that he ran Bush’s OMB and personally oversaw the conversion of trillions in projected surplus into trillions of actual new debt.
Not the sort of alchemy a prospective presidential candidate would like to have to explain.
No Republican wants to run for prez now because that’s a job where you are nearly guaranteed to fail given the policy leanings of your base, i.e., it’s almost impossible to run when your base demands ideological purity. Even if you win, when your party runs on pure fantasy, you know that being president is bound to end up a clusterfuck. These guys are all positioning for 2016. As Christie, Walker and Daniels are finding out, it’s bad enough being a governor but at least the media spotlight isn’t as intense and being a governor keeps you relevant to media for 2016 should conditions become more favorable. If you stay out in favor of a Fox gig like Huck, you can keep your name in the news and rake in the bucks. The only ones running now are nutcases (Bachman, Cain, Santorum, Paul), and guys that currently don’t have a soapbox and aren’t particularly suited for Fox (Romney, Pawlenty and Huntsman).
The political process here has failed, because the public isn’t getting the correct message that Medicare and Social Security are about to kill us all and we have to cut them now.
Of course, it’s possible that people think that all the rest of the budget money can be found in foreign aid and the National Endowment for the Arts.
@Ghanima Atreides: Which one o the Republican possibles doesn’t have a fatal flaw (for the general)?
Only T-Paw, I think. Being that boring isn’t a fatal flaw. He kinda reminds me of the elder Bush–his persona, at least.
This. They’re waiting one or two more election cycles and hoping that Obama can get the economy under control to the point where more voters will be placated and able to ignore their “deep-six Medicare and screw the unemployed” platform.
this. the GOP fascination with pseudo-outsiders is infuriating. I, for one, have absolutely no interest in having amateurs running anything let alone the government or the world economy. as much as I hate it, the Dems have started to get more and more into the act of claiming that their candidate is going to ride into office on a sparkly unicorn and fix everything with their magic wands.
Running and maintaining huge infrastructures is hard, hard work. nothing gets done overnight and no realistic fix starts with a scorched earth policy. the process of weeding out candidates needs to be vigorous but it’s turned into a bad reality show where the most aggressive, least self aware lunatic ends up on top because anyone with an ounce of self-examination can see that the process is stacked against someone who can recognize insanity in others and/or themselves.
So it’s time for the thieves to pay back to the social security trust fund? Makes sense to me.
In what, the twenty years, there’s been 176% increase in wealth for the wealthiest 1% and tax cuts financed by deficits.
Not only that, but if you cut taxes on the Job Creators, the economy will grow by 20% each year and wipe out the deficit.
We should still cut entitlements, though.
Frankensteinbeck (The ex-Uloborus)
McCain Who isn’t even being considered in the nominations anymore and is a nonentity as far as influence in congress is concerned. He lost, and his political ambitions are dead.
I could not agree more with your comment.
Anyone who takes Mitch Daniels seriously is an idiot. He was one of the architects of the fabulousity that was the Shrub’s economic policy team. His personal life and height taken out of the equation still leaves his record looking like a steaming pile of rancid shit. And that’s without even taking into account his shitty record as governor.
@arguingwithsignposts: I could, I guess, but I was hoping someone would just answer me so I don’t have to read some guy’s entire blog. Oh well, not important I guess.
On a different note, I think it is stone-cold stupid for anyone to claim Daniels is “unelectable” because he’s short. Yeah, we just elected a black guy named Hussein, but “short” is a bridge too far! Sheesh.
@Frankensteinbeck (The ex-Uloborus):
He’s a sitting senator, which is a bit more than a “non-entity” all things considered.
And, he had his shot, and he’s really old now. Repubs don’t go back to the well too often with their general election candidate (Dick Nixon being the notable exception).
Anyone who takes any Republican candidate seriously at this point is an idiot. Even those who have a shred of common sense are required to pretend otherwise or get the boot.
The Daniels reaction shows the fault line in the GOP between the born-agains and everybody else. The born-agains will take on board any one regardless of their past if they will go along with the charade of confessing their sins (tears NOT optional) and blathering on about jay-bus. Sinners who won’t swear obeisance to Dobson are simply not accepted. Meanwhile, the rest of the GOP will take any personal history — and a fair portion will look on “womanizing” as virile, and theft as “innovation.”
@artem1s: I wouldn’t even care if Joyner et al. fluffed amateurs and outsiders, as long as those amateurs and outsiders gave some indication of being competent, let alone not actively harmful. Joyner and the pundits he cites are all implying that someone who cooks the nation’s books to hide massive deficit spending, then goes on to directly attack working people and poor women’s health care, is not only fit for high office in this country, he’d actually be good at it.
I mean, really — I’m OK with Daniels running, because it means his policy fuck-ups would be put on display for all to see, and watching Obama eviscerate him in the campaign would be highly entertaining. But to want him to run because you think he’d be a good president? What makes a person’s mind work like that?
@Steve: I agree that lack of height is no impediment. There’s a music teacher at the local park who runs music classes for toddlers. The guy’s a dynamo, is great with kids of all ages, and is a wonderful teacher and musician. And it wasn’t until after I’d known him for a year and a half and my son had attended several of his class sessions that I realized he was shorter than me, and even that was only after he remarked on his height himself.
The right person, under the right circumstances, can make people forget about his/her disadvantageous physical characteristics, and even make those characteristics unnoticeable in the first place. If Mitch Daniels were to come on as a clear-headed, clear-voiced force for good and someone who genuinely cared about the welfare of all of the people he’d be governing, he’d have people rallying around him en masse no matter how short he was.
Maybe it’s just my circle of associates but I have never seen a candidates height referenced in any way outside of the occasional political comedy joke. Maybe the reason NO PUNDIT TALKS SERIOUSLY ABOUT HEIGHT, Ghanima Atreides, is because it’s not actually an issue for the vast majority of… well… everybody.
Just a thought.
Cris (without an H)
What? Don’t you read Reality Check’s comments?
It amazes me to say it, but GA actually has something correct (although her insistence that she came up with the concept when it’s been discussed here dozens of times in recent weeks/months is amusing). A candidate for the presidency of the U.S. is not a music teacher of toddlers. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong, and people would never admit that they do it, but people do make value judgments on presidential candidates–and candidates for at least some other major offices–based on height. Hell, they do it for people in all kinds of lines of work for which height isn’t a prerequisite. This isn’t a secret.
Remember all the negative commentary about how short McCain looked next to Obama in the debates? That was mostly sniping from the left, but there was quite a bit of “too bad McCain isn’t taller” commentary on the winger blogs. Remember that the shorter presidential candidate has not won office since Truman beat Dewey? (Actually, I could be wrong about that — I think Carter was shorter than Ford but am too lazy to look it up.) There’s a certain segment of the citizenry that at least subconsciously associates height with power, strength and probably virility. Being 5’3″, which is unusually short for an American man, would absolutely get people’s attention, and a not-insignificant number of them would be put off by it.
BTW, I’m 5’3″ and the third baseman’s 5’7″, so I’m not attaching any personal value judgment to the current president and first lady being giraffes…statuesque! I meant statuesque!
@shortstop: Well, I got unlazy and looked it up, and wow, did I mess that up. Not only was Dewey an inch shorter than Truman, but Kerry is 4 1/2″ taller than Dubya (in my mind they’re always the same height) and even Gore is taller than Dub.
It seems that the people who stand out as having been noticeably short men by American standards–Dukakis, McCain (is he really 5’9″?), Cox, etc., generally have lost unless they were matched with equally short men (Truman and Dewey).
Interesting that Nixon was 5’11 1/2″. He, too, gave the impression of being much shorter.
It’s the optics – say you have Daniels and Obama at a debate. When it comes time for them to shake hands, you have the top of Daniels’ head coming to the President’s belt buckle. The optics are there, even if it’s not stated. Daniels will simply look like a munchkin and I wouldn’t put it past some blogger to use that phrase for him as the campaign wages on.
Budget or no, someone has to impose discipline on the people, otherwise they’ll get all lazy and expectant with their hands out all the time.
It’s not a democracy, it’s a republic, so we gotta make sure and do the most with that.
Yeah, I love it when people say that. Follow it up with “do you even know what that means?” and it tends to leave them babbling incoherently for a few minutes until they can look up talking points.
Of course, it’s simply something they say when their opinion is out of line with the majority’s.
@Chris: What I usually get is that they are convinced that whatever it is I am suggesting or arguing is based on my misunderstanding that we are not a ‘direct democracy’ or ‘pure democracy’.
Too far into that, and everyone gets bored.