This article originally appears in The American Thinker
My name is Rick and I am an inveterate grouser.
I grouse about everything. If my peas inadvertently mix with my potatoes, I grouse about it. If it rains, I grouse about it. If the Bears lose, I grouse about it all week.
You get the picture. I am an absolute joy to live with.
But it is politics where my grousing truly reaches its zenith and sets me apart from your average, everyday, ordinary curmudgeon. If they had an Olympic event dedicated to the political grouse, I would be a gold medal winner every time. The Super Bowl, the World Series, the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship – if they were dedicated to grousing about politics, I would be a legend in my own time.
Don’t believe me? Mention a Republican candidate for president and I can find 6 things wrong with him before you draw your next breath. I am that good. The sneering adjectives pour off my tongue like acid rain, covering the candidate with an invective designed to illuminate how utterly preposterous the notion that they are worthy of consideration for high office.
Some candidates are easier to grouse about than others. Mike Huckabee, for example:
A perfect choice – if we were going to elect a Preacher in Chief. His notions about creationism and gays are an excellent fit – for the 17th century. A man with a name that, if he were to be elected president, would make us the laughing stock of the civilized world. And a man whose views on issues like taxes, global warming, and foreign policy make him a favorite to go all the way to the convention – the Democratic Convention, that is.
Others are more difficult to find something to grouse about only because they are able to mask their deficiencies by employing the oldest political trick in the book; they coat their positions on the issues with a sheen of soothing platitudes and unctuous reassurances – all to mask the fact that a few years ago, they gave soothing platitudes and reassurances to describe the exact opposite position on the same issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mitt Romney circa 1994 during his campaign for the Senate against Ted Kennedy:
“As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gays and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent,” Romney wrote in the letter.
During that same campaign, Romney also stated his personal opposition to abortion, but said he would not seek to change state abortion laws. As proof, he cited his mother’s own 1970 candidacy for the U.S. Senate as an abortion rights supporter.
Romney also took the opportunity as governor to sign almost 200 waivers to allow ordinary people to marry gay couples:
Romney, who has cast himself as the staunchest Republican defender of traditional marriage, reportedly signed off on almost 200 one-day certificates allowing gay and lesbian couples to use unlicensed friends to preside over their weddings. Under an obscure state law, the certificates can be granted only to couples that get approval from the governorâ€™s office.
Now, of course, Mitt has reinvented himself as a social conservative, casting himself in the starring role of anti-abortion champion and gay marriage abhorrer. This coating of fish oil smeared on his stands on the social issues of abortion and gay marriage make it extremely difficult for me to grab hold of the slippery flip-flopper and get specific in my grousing. So, I am left with the kind of general grouse that allows the candidate to slide through relatively unscathed while leaving a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that somehow, I’ve missed my target – or perhaps the candidate himself leaves me feeling nauseous.
Rudy, John, Fred, Duncan, (don’t get me started on Mr. Two First Names) all leave me feeling as if the Republican party has benched the first team out of pique and deliberately started the reserves and walkons in the championship game. Compare these candidates to the candidates Republicans fielded in 1980.
That field featured 2 future presidents (Reagan and Bush), 2 genuine intellectuals (Phil Crane and John Anderson), a future GOP presidential nominee (Dole), a Senate Majority Leader (Howard Baker) and one of the most charismatic politicians of his generation (John Connally).
Yeah, but this current group has Mike Huckabee – a man who never tires of mentioning that he “beat the Clinton political machine twice” while governor of Arkansas. All that proves is that what the Clinton political machine needed more than anything to win was, well, Bill Clinton. Now, if the Huckster had run twice against the Philanderer in Chief and won, that would be something to write home about. Instead, he walked into the governorship following Jim Guy Tucker’s conviction in a Whitewater related matter and then won two elections, including the race in 2002 where he ran against another Democrat with three names Jimmie Lou Fisher, barely winning with 53% of the vote.
Not exactly a powerhouse political record. In fact, most of the GOP candidates seemed to have run many of their campaigns against weak or damaged opponents. Rudy had a landslide victory against Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger who eked out a primary victory against Al Sharpton.
Not exactly the stuff of political legend.
Of course, the Democrats are no better. If the best they can do is Hillary Clinton – a woman whose negatives are more pronounced than her husband’s voracious appetite for the spotlight – you know the other party also suffers from a dearth of talent at the highest levels. I would mention Barack Obama but until someone shows up to fill out the suit he purportedly wears, I will forgo any grousing against him.
What I really need is a 12 step program to curb my grousing. Something like Politics Anonymous where you acknowledge your sins and resolve to correct the error of your ways. Here are a couple of steps I offer as suggestions:
Step I: I admit I am powerless to stop grousing about how bad GOP political candidates are and that my writing has become incredibly boring because of it.
Step II: I have come to believe that there will be no intervention by a higher power to supply us with candidates we can enthusiastically support – unless there’s a brokered convention and General Petreaus agrees to run for president which for me, would be incontrovertible proof of the existence of God.
Step IV: Made a searching and fearless inventory of all the faults of the candidates and came to the conclusion there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
Step VII: Humbly acknowledge my inability to adequately describe how truly awful all the Republican candidates are and resolve to be less critical and more understanding of their shortcomings.
You can see as with any 12 step program, the process gets harder as you go along. As for my last suggestion, I would probably need some additional therapy in order to forgo the pleasure of skewering the candidates – about 10 years of additional individual couch work ought to do it, I think.