Hey, inquiring independent voters minds need to know: can’t the Republicans make up their minds already?
First, former Alaska Gov. and Fox News star Sarah Palin made it part of her stock speech sneering references to Barack Obama as a “law professor” — saying America needs a President not a law professor. (That was before Rudy Giuliani said America needs a President not a — add contemptible look here — community organizer.)
Now you have former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the most facscinating and refreshingly original politicians on the scene who’s apparently doing his best Mario Cuomo imitation (he’s thinking about running…maybe he won’t…maybe he will) now saying America needs “a President not an athlete.” To wit:
Newt Gingrich made a rock star’s entrance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference Thursday night, entering to a standing ovation as the song “Eye of the Tiger” blared over the speakers and lights shined out over the crowd.
When Gingrich eventually got to the podium, he delivered a self-assured address peppered with historical allusions. Democrats in Washington, he said, had put together a “perfect unrepresentative left-wing machine dedicated to a secular socialist future.”
Mr. Obama is “the most radical president in American history,” Gingrich said. “He has said, ‘I run a machine, I own Washington, and there is nothing you can do about it.'”
“What we need is a president, not an athlete,” Gingrich said during a question and answer period after his speech. He added: “Shooting three point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work.”
So why don’t Palin and Gingrich combine the denigrating characterization to make it more consistent?
“America needs a President — not an athletic law professor.”
Of course, politicians who sought cheap shots could have (and in some cases did) use this kind of phrase before, such as:
“America needs a President, not a former baseball team owner.”
“America needs a President, not an actor.”
“America needs a President, not a peanut farmer.” (Actually, I would have AGREED with that one when that President was in office).
“America needs a President, not a former World War II military hero.”
“America needs a President, not a former hat salesman.”
And if people wanted to extend this kind of vapid sloganeering, someone might say America needs a President not a former TV sports broadcaster or beauty queen and not a history professor.
Of course many Americans would agree with this one — there would be no controversy:
“America needs a President, not a lawyer.”
And here is one that is most fitting:
“What we need are politicians who will discuss meaningful issues and offer solutions to our problems rather than offer hack, partisan, talk radio style sloganeering.”
But I digress…
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.