First it was Rick “Oops” Perry. Maybe the former Texas governor hoped his new horn-rimmed glasses would make him look smarter after his flop in 2012. Alas, he still became the first of the 2016 candidates to walk the plank, taking his 1 percent of Republican voters with him.
Then it was Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who started out as the front-runner in the Republican race — at least in Iowa. The high point of his campaign was his comment that he could deal with Islamic militants because he’d bested the public employees union in Wisconsin. His openness to building a wall along the Canadian border was a close second.
I also loved his withdrawal speech:
“Today I believe I’m being called to lead by helping clear the field,” he rationalized. “I encourage other Republican candidates to consider doing the same.”
I’m not sure how much clearing you can do when you’re polling less than 1 percent. Every little bit helps, I suppose.
Then John Boehner of Ohio announced that he was out too, resigning not only as speaker of the House but from Congress altogether. He said it was for the good of the party.
So that’s the trend: If you want to save the Republican Party, give up your job. It makes a great campaign slogan: “You can’t fire us, we quit.”
Who’s next in this deadly game of musical chairs?
I don’t know, but as a patriotic American who wants only the best for his country, I believe there are three logical candidates: Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson.
Yes, I know, they’re the ones leading the polls. That’s part of the problem.
The Republican base, at least as reflected in the primaries, is a strange group, bordering on weird. It’s not just against big government. It’s against all government. It seeks to elect people without any idea of what it takes to make a government function.
Trump, Fiorina, and Carson are perfect for that job. They’re not politicians and they brag about it.
They shouldn’t. Of all the possible attributes a president should have — knowledge, honesty, empathy — I would put “political skill” above all the others.
All of our great and good presidents have had it, from Abe Lincoln to FDR to Bill Clinton. Even Ronald Regan, a vastly overrated president in my opinion, was an effective president because he was a good politician.
You can argue that Barack Obama’s chief failing, in fact — particularly in the early days of his presidency — was that he was a lousy politician. He’s better now, but it’s late in the game.
The looming shutdown of our government by Republican crazies is part of that relentless contempt of government that informs their philosophy. Boehner’s resignation expedited a short-term deal to keep the government running until he’s left the scene. But the issue will be back, maybe as soon as December.
Were it in my power to do so, I would let them shut it down. However, I wouldn’t accept the limited, “no pain” shutdown that we’ve experienced in the past. We close the National Parks, big deal.
I would shut everything down — air traffic control, the postal system, all federal workers, government construction projects, research, border patrols, food stamps, Social Security — everything but a skeletal defense structure and continuing medical research whose interruption might kill patients.
You want to shut down the government? You got it, chums. Then we’d find out who’s against government and who isn’t.
OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan www.OtherWords.org.