Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please Stop Helping Them

Joe Klein, one of the Very Serious People in the Village, is bemoaning the current crop of GOP candidates.

This is my 10th presidential campaign, Lord help me. I have never before seen such a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers coagulated under a single party’s banner. They are the most compelling argument I’ve seen against American exceptionalism. Even Tim Pawlenty, a decent governor, can’t let a day go by without some bilious nonsense escaping his lizard brain. And, as Greg Sargent makes clear, Mitt Romney has wandered a long way from courage. There are those who say, cynically, if this is the dim-witted freak show the Republicans want to present in 2012, so be it. I disagree. One of them could get elected. You never know. Mick Huckabee, the front-runner if you can believe it, might have to negotiate a trade agreement, or a defense treaty, with the Indonesian President some day. Newt might have to discuss very delicate matters of national security with the President of Pakistan. And so I plead, as an unflinching American patriot–please Mitch Daniels, please Jeb Bush, please run. I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you. And you seem to respect yourselves enough not to behave like public clowns.

That’s all well and good; the candidates — or at least the ones who are acting like they’re planning to explore whether they should decide to run — do resemble, as another blogger noted, Mos Eisley space station: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” But, to echo Steve M, what are the people like Mr. Klein doing to stop them?

At this stage of the race, it’s natural to get the clowns out on stage for the opening production number — even Shakespeare’s tragedies have comic relief — but it also behooves the press to examine these candidates and make it clear who they are, what they stand for, and point out that they are way the hell out there. I’ve always thought that part of being an objective reporter doesn’t mean that you put your judgment into a blind trust and merely write down and report what they say without examining them. That’s what press secretaries are for.

By the way, promoting Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels as the sober counterpoints to the list of GOP candidates tells you just how far they’ve wandered into the Land of Make-Believe.