Recent polls indicate that John Kerry’s “likeability” numbers are down. This is causing some concern among Democrats who are afraid that they’re going to lose this race based on the electorate deciding that it’s more important that we like the guy in the Oval Office more than we trust his knowledge, judgement, or ability to respond in a crisis.
I find that disturbing on so many levels I don’t know where to begin except to say that if we have gotten down to the level of choosing our presidents based on whether or not we “like” him, we are in serious trouble. The last thing I look for in a candidate is whether or not I’d want to have a beer with the guy. There are a lot of people I like a lot and I would love to spend an evening with them, but I wouldn’t leave them in charge of taking care of a houseplant. George W. Bush has been very successful as coming across as a “plain kinda fella.” The fact that he’s got more blue blood (grandson of a Connecticut senator, alum of Andover, Yale and Harvard) than John Kerry and is the only child in his whole family who talks like Gabby Hayes notwithstanding, his “jus’ folks” act is the biggest con since P.T. Barnum sold tickets to see the Egress. In reality he’s shown as much interest in taking care of the middle and working class as Louis XVI with his tax cuts and windfalls for the rich and the corporations, his trashing of the environment, and starting a pre-emptive war with the children of the middle class as his cannon fodder. And yet the victims of his folly say they like him. They think he feels for them and that he’s looking out for them. No matter that they have no health insurance, their children are going to school in crumbling buildings, and the job they once had at the furniture factory or call center has been sent to Bangalor. It’s okay – they like him, and that’s all that matters. Of course, some of these are the same people who buy into the Canadian Lottery con, are sure that Elvis is working at a Burger King in Grand Rapids, and that pro wrestling is real.
I blame Oprah. We’ve put a “feelings” quotient on everything. That’s okay when it comes to interpersonal relations – hell, I’m first in line when it comes to trying to get families and parents and kids to get along and listen to each other, but when it comes to running a country, you don’t need Dr. Phil any more than you need Dr. Strangelove. The fact that John Kerry comes across as cold and detached is, to me, a reason to vote for him rather than not. At least you know it’s genuine, and when it comes to dealing with the problems that could come across his desk as president, that’s the kind of man I want running the country.