Current GOP candidates need to shed ‘mediocrity’ label

Published 5:17 pm Friday, September 9, 2011

The current crop of Republican candidates, one of which may become the next president of the United States, brings to mind the word “mediocrity.” Until Wednesday night’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, my calculations on all of them lumped them into that category — mediocre at best.

After listening and watching the debate, some of them came forth with substance, more than simple misinformed sound bites. The governors, Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, were clear winners in my mind.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was outgunned, shown to be the lightweight that she is. Her star should continue to fade.

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Goodbye Newt. Ron Paul is too cranky, Herman Cain too strident and Rick Santorum, not yet ready for prime time.

The media huckstered the debate against Romney and Perry, giving them the host of the questions, while throwing some bones to the others.

Romney came across strong, knowledgeable, unflappable, rehearsed and with a good grasp of the issues. Perry, commanding, gave plausible answers to some of his outlandish views. Huntsman presented plausible centrist views when he was allowed to get into the fray.

Looking at all these folks, I am thinking, who is the most charismatic? It’s charisma, more than issues or political party, which sways many voters. With the debate being held in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and whose name was invoked repeatedly, did any candidate become the “Next Ronald Reagan?”

No, but the handsome Perry came close, Yet his politics and extremely conservative beliefs are so against the mainline stream, that unless he can relent, and explain himself for his radical viewpoints, he too may be an also-ran.

Whatever you might think of the politics of Ronald Reagan, he was an extremely charismatic man. The great communicator. Who could forget his most dramatic political line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” which soon after saw the crumbling of not only the Berlin wall but all of the Soviet empire as well.

And this business of, “When I become President, the first thing I am going to do is repeal Obamacare.”

That’s pure grandstanding. We need to see it for what it is, appealing to base emotions, pushing forth uninformed rhetoric. And if you are one of those who have had huge medical bills paid by Medicare, then you are not going to put up with this nonsense.

As voters, we need to be careful we do not fall into these traps.

On Obamacare, we don’t need it repealed, we need it fixed. Political pundits on both sides tell us that candidates taking on major reforms to Medicare and Social Security do so at their own peril.

Two days after the debate, giving the pundits a day to pontificate the effectiveness of the candidates, Romney was coming out ahead of Perry. They are all now awaiting the polls to see how far Romney has moved up, closer to designated front-runner Perry. What they are saying is that Perry had been given enough questions to disavow himself from his views on global warming, Social Security and Obamacare, but he maintained his controversial views which Republican political strategist Carl Rove said could not win the presidency.

The label of mediocrity of the eight candidates came up again in the Wednesday edition of the Tallahassee Democrat, with national columnist Tina Dupuy also using the word.

Yet, we will just have to wait on any final analysis of mediocrity. There are more debates ahead. The debate this week gave us a clearer definition of who these people are. Some came out ahead, some need to go silently into the night today. Let the heavyweights duke it out. And finally, after Thursday night’s address to Congress on a jobs plan, don’t count Obama out.

Jim Smith writes a weekly column for The Post-Searchlight. He can be reached through his email at:, or by cell phone at (229) 254-2753.