Vetting Candidates 2016: American Idol Style

Vetting Candidates 2016: American Idol Style

Vetting Candidates 2016: American Idol Style

(Due to popular demand, I have  broken down this post into 4 separate parts for ease of sharing)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

  Redmeat Rhetoric vs Substance 

I’m just going to come right out and say it. As much good the TEA Party movement and conservative talk hosts and bloggers have done for motivating and mobilizing conservatives these last few years, they have fallen prey to a disease long rampant in the Democrat Party that now has infected the Republican primary vetting for 2016: emotionally charged American Idol Syndrome. Anger and frustration were pretty much the catalysts that birthed the TEA Party movement, and with all the common sense and reason that anchor the very heart of conservative thought, it just didn’t occur to me that we weren’t sufficiently inoculated. Disgust with both political parties has snowballed into fear and panic after 7 years of Obama’s fundamental transformation and a Republican led Congress refusing to stop it. So scared and starved now are we for a leader, ANY  leader, who will halt and reverse this spiral into the abyss that masses are clamoring for “an Obama of our own” to face off and beat presumed Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.  Style now (literally) trumps substance in determining not only who should run for president but who deserves to even be seen and heard on national media and in the GOP primary debates. Welcome to vetting 2016, American Idol Style, and as a conservative, I for one am frustrated and embarrassed, and voters as well as the country lose out.

Fawning media, especially Fox News (media arm of the RNC) and conservative talk shows fuel and stoke popularity polls which now serve as the determinants in vetting people for presidential consideration. Media personalities and elitist pundits have the national megaphone to influence voters in a very big way and are in part largely responsible for creating these political rock stars of late. How else does one explain the unlikely candidacy of mild mannered pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson? People with no clue what Carson thinks or believes on a bevy of weighty issues immediately deemed him presidential material after his criticism of Obamacare at the National Prayer breakfast received national attention from conservative talk shows and bloggers. “Run, Ben, Run!!”  It’s beyond crazy to choose, or in this case, create, a presidential candidate this way. Vetting in this election cycle is virtually nonexistent.  What we have instead is a desperate and dumbed down approach to find an acceptably conservative version of Obama who can excite crowds like Obama does, and this somehow translates to an electable candidate capable of presidential duties.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever to Dr. Carson whom I admire and believe is a very fine, highly intelligent Christian man, patriot, and role model; but his entire life’s work has been exclusively in the field of medicine, and this does not translate to the ability of running the country. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t. America is not a patient and President is not a medical position. Carson is no more prepared or able to run the country than the devoutly patriotic restaurant owner, college professor, entrepreneur, or any of the hundreds of other intelligent, principled, and articulate people I’ve heard speak so eloquently and passionately at many a TEA Party rally or town hall.  Great motivational speakers they are, yes; presidential material, no.  Absolutely and unequivocally, no.  And I’ll add that if Dr. Carson were instead a white or Asian man, the attention he received after criticizing Obama would have been very short-lived. Most people don’t want to admit that, but it’s true. Ask most any Carson supporter to be honest about this and they will tell you the same thing. And that is not racist, it’s just the truth.

The same goes for former Hewlett-Packard CEO and self-made millionairess Carly Fiorina. Her vibrant, tough talk on issues she has no experience in and harsh words for Hillary Clinton have enthralled crowds and already earned her comparisons to Margaret Thatcher; but that’s all it is. Tough talk.  Mrs. Fiorina does indeed have a very inspiring life story and is a successful and shrewd businesswoman; but I’m sorry, globetrotting and hobnobbing with heads of state on business matters is NOT foreign policy and national security experience. Okay, chalk one up for her that Bibi Netanyahu is counted among her friends, and she, like Carson, has studied up on world affairs. But let’s face it, America is not a business and the position of President is not a CEO. Nonetheless, Fiorina has tough talked her way into rising star status and up the popularity polls despite her failed one and only attempt to take out liberal Senate matriarch Barbara Boxer, and that was even with substantial help from the RNC. Eh, no matter. She’s a dynamic speaker who landed some coveted hot button questions in her first debate and used some pretty sharp and muscular verbiage in her responses; and she sounds really, really smart too. That’s because she is. Oh, and by the way, she’s a woman.  So who cares about her political inexperience and questionable views on some rather critical issues recently coming to light? Who better to go up against Hillary, right? American Idol Syndrome strikes again. 

Shiny, inexperienced, and new

This brings me to practically all the other fresh-faced, new blood candidates who have attained political celebrity or super hero status by way of keynoting at political venues and candidate forums, annual events which have morphed into contests gauging who is the most successful at inducing the crowds to their feet more often and provoking the most raucous and sustained applause from their performances. For many in the pack, it’s a good way to cover up their otherwise unremarkable, wafer-thin, or non-existent résumés or records of actual leadership experience that heretofore prominently factored to a large degree in proving presidential prowess. You no longer have to actually have a record that you’ve led on or have any experience on the issues a president will no doubt face in office, just that you can talk about it and do so persuasively. If you can do it in an entertaining fashion, all the better. Rhetorical flourish and a penchant for the dramatic come in pretty handy here. Give the people what you think they want to hear, not necessarily what they need to hear.

This is definitely a talented and diverse group of individuals, intelligent and accomplished, no doubt, but that does not mean they all should be applying for what is inarguably  the most difficult and responsibility laden job in the country, moreover, in the world. The mere fact that a whopping 17 people have come forward to offer themselves as Public Servant Number one in the most unstable, volatile world since World War II just boggles the mind. Do they all really believe they are prepared and ready to step up to the task at hand? We know now that here in America practically anyone can run for president. Barack Obama is proof that not just anyone should run for president.

No, I’m not comparing the current crop of Republican candidates to the global wrecking ball that is Barack Hussein Obama; but many in the field have been ushered into the race on a tsunami of hype and celebrity, very much like Obama, not for what they have actually accomplished or proven about themselves that would merit even consideration that they are presidential material, but merely for what they say and how they say it; not for what they actually have done but what they say they will do. Just look at how many have already flip-flopped a hasty 180 or back peddled for damage control after their initial views and policies were met with heavy criticism and/or upset their biggest donors or support base. I tend to believe the first words out of a candidate’s mouth when thrown a candid question is actually what he really believes. How many times have we already heard “What I really meant to say was …” or “You misunderstood what I said” and the classic weasely mea culpa “I’ve evolved on that issue”? I shudder to imagine one of these in the pressure cooker of the Oval Office when the heat gets turned up.

 The ultimate American Idol candidate

American Idol Syndrome has opened the political doors for anyone and everyone who can scratch itching ears with the same hot rhetoric you hear at any given time of day on conservative talk radio. Enter one, Donald J. Trump. He didn’t simply waltz through the open doors. He busted them off their hinges, riding in on a malevolent storm of collective voter disgust at a feckless GOP Congress and fueled by a media obsessed with his celebrity. He effectively lassoed and bridled the pall of political acrimony at its prime, and he’s milking it for all its worth. Voter acceptance of Trump’s candidacy, devoid of actual substantive policy prescriptions and any experience to back up his buzzword-studded talking points, is the worst type of American Idol vetting since Obama.

Trump has the media feeding at his trough and a motley crew of supporters comprised of starry eyed, celebrity obsessed fans, TEA Party conservatives, and most shockingly, evangelical Christians, all clamoring for a glitzy, bombastic, self-promoting, self-absorbed celebrity billionaire from Corporate America with a history and life so checkered with self-serving business and political moves, progressive liberal ideology, and questionable character that he puts the Ralston-Purina logo to shame. How this man who so brashly lives and flaunts his affluent lifestyle has so convincingly shape-shifted into a champion of blue collar America is absolutely dumbfounding. (I’ll elaborate on this political epiphany of Trump’s in an upcoming blog.) Loud and shallow rhetoric based on pure anger-centric emotion is guiding the spectacle that is the Trump campaign, and his entry into this race has added the specter of entertainment value into the candidate evaluation process. He is the living, breathing tabloid candidate most of us would never have imagined in a Republican race much less as an invited speaker at faith and family venues such as The Family Leader. Why nothing Trump has said or done prior to his entry into this race, or even last week, matters to his supporters and his drooling cheerleaders on the airwaves is breathtakingly similar to how Democrats vet their own. It’s not only embarrassing, it’s downright scary.  Fox News regular, establishment banshee Ann Coulter, exhibits full blown symptoms of American Idol Syndrome in her over the top near worship at the feet of Trump. She might even have replaced her 2012 Romney shrine with a replica of Trump Tower.

Stagecraft or Statecraft?

Thanks to American Idol Syndrome we now have candidates discarding the traditional stationary podium to roam and prance across the stage televangelist style, performing bits of stand-up comedy, chumming audiences with red meat TEA Party speak and clever, snarky bumper sticker slogan one-liners, taking it to Obama and his lapdog GOP leadership like nobody’s business, and they send crowds and conservative media heads into a frenzy. I fully expect soon to see a panel of judges just off stage flashing numerical scores on their paddles in direct proportion to the crowd response each candidate generates. “Three standing ovations and 8 applause interruptions.  I’m giving him a perfect 10!” It’s showbiz, folks! This is stagecraft, not statecraft, and it’s the shallowest and most ignorant way of vetting I’ve ever seen from conservative voters.  Lost in this euphoria is the serious meat and potatoes candidate who actually respects voters enough to not treat them like teenyboppers at a rock concert. America desperately needs a Statesman unafraid to talk tough truths, not a showman regurgitating popular talking points.

I urge you to watch these two speeches by Ted Cruz  and Rick Santorum  at The Family Leadership Summit in August 2014 and compare the two on stagecraft and statecraft. Put emotions aside and study both speakers. Who is giving an early 2016 stump speech, throwing out red meat TEA Party lines he thinks the audience wants to hear, and who is delivering a sobering and poignant message to wake up and shake up the party faithful with truths they need to hear? Who is serving up dessert to put the audience on a sugar high, and who is putting forth a real meat and potatoes message with a vision and real solutions to actually address the issues that have savaged and fractured our nation for years and actually wants to heal and unify not just the party but the whole country? Who looks and sounds more like he’s auditioning to be president of the Republican Party, and who looks and sounds like he could very well be President of the United States? Who looks and sounds more like a Statesman, and who looks and acts like an entertaining showman? Who feeds off of and basks in the applause, and who exhibits a real degree of humility over audience reaction? Which speaker seeks crowd reaction, and which one wants them to digest what he’s saying?  One was gushed over and hailed by conservative media talking heads and bloggers as a political rock star, THE one to watch for 2016, and the other was barely given the time of day by the same media. These media personalities are the people constructing and picking conservative candidates for us. That has become their mission to thwart the moderate squish losers the party establishment forces on us with their own hand-picked candidates. Style, not substance, is what wins them over. Iowa radio talk host Steve Deace and Rush Limbaugh wannabe Erick Erickson have been severely afflicted by American Idol Syndrome for some time now, Deace since Cruz gave his maiden stump speech in Iowa back in August 2013 and Erikson in 2012 during Cruz’s run for the Senate. Their infatuation with Cruz has hit critical mass.

Unfortunately, this is the new reality of how we get most of our candidates these days. We have these media created candidates like Carson, and to a large degree Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, freshman senators with no actual substantive legislative accomplishments meriting their requests for a huge job promotion. Their dramatic antics from the Senate Floor via bladder busting, hours long stem-winders, complete with premeditated event hashtags (aka 2016 campaign PAC moneybombs) dominated the airwaves for weeks, propelling both to hero status, to presidential material, and then on to the top of the polls. American Idol vetting again. Remember the good old days when members of Congress did things like this did because it was their job to fight to preserve freedom, not for self-promotion and PAC raising for a premature pursuit of higher office? Ah, I remember it well.

A good example of American Idol Syndrome was on full display at the candidate forum hosted in July by The Family Leader in Des Moines, Iowa.  Pollster Frank Luntz interviewed candidates individually and evaluated the performance of each based on how successfully he or she racked up standing O’s and sent applause meters into a whirl, and how often they did it. He baited every candidate (except for one, Rick Santorum) with good, hot button, emotionally charged questions that each had the easy opportunity to answer with fire and passion, often answering with solutions that were not doable or based in reality but guaranteed to please the crowd nonetheless. And boy, did they deliver!  Rack up those political brownie points! Bobby Jindal really lucked out being on the receiving end of the most diverse, raw meat questions pertinent to the 2016 election; and in the midst of one of Jindal’s multiple standing ovations, Luntz  pointed out “That’s number six.” In the first 7 minutes of his interview, Jindal had already roused the crowd to their feet 6 times, I believe a total of 8 or 9 by the time he concluded—and he became the newest rock star of the pack. He even surpassed current standing O champion Ted Cruz.

Do stuff like this often enough and you will enjoy regular and generous national media attention, particularly on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc., and you are on your way to the top of the polls. Media figures have the power to influence voters in one way or the other by the amount of time they spend talking with or about these candidates, or not, and this is what largely drives the poll numbers that now dictate to us who is worthy to be seen and heard on the debate stages. It’s a fact those at the top of the polls have had numerous appearances on and have been discussed frequently by all the Fox News prime time and conservative talk radio show hosts. Conversely, those polling low have gotten little to no airtime on those same programs. I challenge anyone to prove this not to be the case.

In polls we trust?

 So now these media driven popularity polls decide who will be allowed on stage for the GOP primary debates. Candidates not polling in the top ten of an average of polls used by the RNC and network news to determine viability and electability have been relegated to a lesser debate forum mockingly dubbed the “Kiddie Table Debate.” As Reince Priebus told Jon Karl on ABC This Week Sunday “And the reality is, and it might be a little harsh, but you can’t necessarily treat someone that’s polling at 18 or 20 percent the same as someone that’s polling at a half a percent or 1 percent.” Maybe Mr. Priebus needs a refresher that 4 years ago the eventual winner of the Iowa Caucus, Rick Santorum, was polling at 1 to 2% all of 2011 while all the other candidates enjoyed whirlwind turns riding high in the polls before falling off into obscurity. I tend to believe that Priebus is fully cognizant of this,and the thought of it happening again scares the daylights out of him and the RNC bosses.

These early national popularity polls are absolutely meaningless and give a flawed and outright bogus gauge of actual voter support. These, um, new and improved debate rules would have denied Santorum a spot in the 2011 debates had the field had been as crowded as this bunch, and I’ll point out, too, how throughout the course of all his 22 debates he progressed as the Dragonslayer of the pack, dismantling everyone on the stage on policy and never going negative personally. He was the thorn in the side, the irritating pebble in the shoe to the RNC establishment and the Romney campaign they so clearly heavily promoted. Had Santorum been given a one on one with Romney, the Republican primaries and the general election would have had vastly different outcomes. I am firmly convinced of that. The shocking success of Santorum’s gritty, exponentially underfunded, understaffed campaign in 2012 is actually the reason the RNC conjured up these new uber restrictive rules for the debates and helped orchestrate this outrageously large field of cookie cutter candidates to thwart a repeat of Santorum 2012 (more about this in an upcoming blog.)

 Media kingmakers flex their political muscles

With an overflow of super star candidates competing to poll high enough to bag one of the coveted 10 spots on the “big” debate stage, we now have the media picking winners and losers in the contest of poll numbers by choosing which candidates they will have on their shows and how often. Take for example the meteoric rise of Scott Walker after his pre-campaign stump speech at The Iowa Faith and Freedom Summit in January. Only a tiny fraction of voters nationwide actually saw his speech in person, watched on C-SPAN, or learned about it from Iowa media.  It was only after Rush Limbaugh took up the cause to promote Walker daily for a week on his show, playing audio clips, interviewing him live on the air, and discussing his speech every day that week, that Walker’s poll numbers went into orbit. Rush gets to play Kingmaker, and he knows it. His current obsession is with Trump, and the lovefest is a sustained one this time (but only for a season, and for a reason. Stay tuned for more on that.) And it’s not just Limbaugh but all media with round the clock coverage of Trump that rocketed him to off the chart poll numbers.

At the opposite end of media blanketed candidates are those getting scant to little attention or even a mention at all. Take again the example of Rick Santorum. Despite the fact he has the sixth highest state and vote tally in political history for a runner up to his party’s nomination in 2012, Santorum has been roundly snubbed by Fox News and in particular by their popular prime time shows ever since Romney’s embarrassingly bruising loss to Obama in November 2012, and his poll numbers are unrealistically, but not surprisingly, low. All of 2013 and most of 2014, his name never came up in any talk of 2016 and no mention of his brushfire campaign fell from the lips of prime time show hosts on Fox News, the go-to news source for most Republican voters. His interest in running again in 2016 was widely known and even expected, yet he’s been given the cold shoulder for what traditionally has been a presumed next in line candidacy. I know people who exclusively watch Bill O’Reilly or listen to Limbaugh, Beck, or Hannity and had no idea Santorum was running much less even still around.  If you can’t see or hear him and his policy views, do you even know he’s running or that he’s a serious contender? A few others are getting scant coverage as well but nothing compared to the shabby treatment Santorum gets. And is it fair for media to give wall to wall coverage of certain candidates to the near total exclusion of others? It’s not only unfair to the candidates, it’s a total disservice to voters entitled to see and hear from all those who have offered their candidacy for consideration.

 But aren’t they all better than Obama?

In this current field of clones we have a whole lot of vetting not going on. That’s because at least everyone in the GOP field is better than Obama, right? Don’t you hear this all the time when scrutinizing the shallow resumes and/or questionable backgrounds of some of the candidates, that at least these lesser-knowns have the same or more experience than Barack Obama when he first emerged as a presidential candidate? They won’t be running against Obama in 2016, but he’s become the new standard of measure in acceptability in Republican candidates. How and when did Barack Obama become the qualifications poster boy for the Republican Party? But the mantra is “this is the strongest field of candidates we’ve had in a long time.” Well, that pretty much depends on what your definition of “strong” is.

Having all the right enemies does not make you a strong candidate. Steve Deace (who has recently endorsed Ted Cruz and once even admitted he had a mancrush on him) gets positively giddy every time Cruz ticks off another leader in his party, and Deace considers it a sign of strength and an actual endorsement. John Boehner makes a derogatory reference to Ted Cruz and that is supposed to seal the deal that Cruz is the right guy to put in the Oval Office. I ask you, where would Ted Cruz be if not for having enemies in the Republican leadership? Seriously, think about that one for a minute. Were Cruz instead a Democrat with the exact same experience, or lack of thereof, and just his soaring rhetoric and renegade reputation carrying him to national attention, those lauding him now would instead be ridiculing him for being too green and unaccomplished to seek higher office. But, but, but … he STOOD UP!  Yes, he stood up, and I can list dozens of others who have done the same over the years, but that didn’t automatically qualify them as presidential timber. I can list many who stood up and delivered actual results for it. Cruz’s quasi filibuster to nowhere resulted in us getting Obamacare meted out anyway and he got celebrity status and a fat 2016 campaign warchest to boot. I’ll have more to say about that later in a candidate analysis post.

Having billionaire donors and nice, fat Super PACs do not make you strong either, just well-funded with lots of strings attached. Being a billionaire with a big mouth, and an ego to match, who can fund your own campaign also does not make you a strong candidate. In 2012 Mitt Romney proved that while you can succeed in buying your way to the nomination, no amount of money will net you the general election. It’s a pure and simple fact, Jack. Message and messenger are what wins the general election.

Being one of these several governors who apparently single-handedly saved his state from economic and societal ruin isn’t a gauge of political strength either. It means you had a dedicated slate of legislators who worked their hearts out to deliver good legislation to your desk you could sign into law, and then you could take credit for it. Sure some governors actually championed these causes with inspiring speeches and all, and some of the issues may well have been on their agenda when they ran for office; but the real battle was waged and won by state representatives and senators who fought it out and had to come together to give these “Super Governors” a reason to use their pens. I’m not denigrating some of the impressive accomplishments and admirable service of these governors; but to equate the duties and responsibilities of a governor with that of a president is a far stretch when you are now dealing with federal and international matters. Governors are woefully lack in that arena.

A truly strong candidate is the one who is the best communicator, who connects in a real way with voters across the socioeconomic spectrum, fires up the base of the party, relates to and resonates with voters sick of partisan politics, has proven he can win over voters in the Heartland and Rustbelt areas of blue collar America, you know, those 5 million plus disaffected blue collar voters who didn’t show up to vote for either Romney or Obama in 2012.  A truly strong candidate is one who is speaking to the very same issues and concerns the Democrat candidate is running on. He fully understands that the liberal media controls the narrative to prop up the Democrat candidate every time, and he knows those are the issues he must dominate on with conservative solutions counter to the socialist, big government. class warfare message the Democrat is using to win over voters struggling in Middle America. A truly strong candidate is a bold conservative culture warrior who will put the Democrat on defense for a change and force him or her to defend his or her indefensible positions on the very same social issues the Democrat historically uses to beat up our establishment moderate squish nominees. And a truly strong candidate offers realistic, doable solutions to the problems plaguing our nation and has the character and record of actual experience and accomplishments to merit our trust he can handle the job Day One and deliver what he says he will do. A candidate like that, even vastly underfunded, beats out the Mr. Moneybags in the end.  My observation is that NONE of the rock star candidates being championed and endorsed by slobbering conservative talk hosts and pundits meet any or even a fraction of that criteria. The only one who actually does match up 100% with every single attribute I listed happens to be the only one they are intentionally ignoring or marginalizing as a viable candidate this time. How utterly, utterly stupid is that??

Experience: the new dirty word

I don’t know about you but at a time like this with so much at stake, with our very existence as a Republic, as a free and sovereign nation in such peril, sheer gut instinct tells me that hiring a pediatric neurosurgeon, a billionaire real estate and casino mogul, a corporate CEO, or a young freshman politician for the job of President and Commander-In-Chief would be insanity. It’s like putting the newly hired yeoman at the helm of a rapidly sinking ship being fired upon from all directions while trying to steer away from the malevolent whirlpool just ahead. But thanks in part to the wave of TEA Party rage at elected officials in D.C., experience is now the equivalence of corruption and mistrust; and this demand for “new blood” even over anyone who has admirably served in office has reached a crescendo of ignorance. Snap out of it, people!

I recall a time when character, experience, and a successful and impressive record actually mattered in choosing a president. How many people out there don’t care about experience and reputation when they look for a doctor, plumber, mechanic, babysitter, heck, even a hairdresser? Do we hire people just because they talk a good game about themselves and have studied up for the job, or do we take time and do some homework before entrusting the job to them? Would you let a guy with no painting experience have a crack at it in your house?  If we vet these people so carefully, why on Earth would we not do the same, or more, when hiring a president? Have we gone mad? How and when did we become so lackadaisical in choosing our leaders? As far as choosing a president goes, experience and a record are old hat and in its place we seek direction from talk show hosts and bloggers, pundits and pollsters, most who are suspended in a perpetual swoon over candidates they actually helped to create. Ironically, many of these media personalities made hay of Chris Matthews about his lovefest over Obama. I say they all owe Matthews an apology. Seriously, they do.

Yes, politicians and motivational speakers who can energize and rev up the base for the battles we fight do a beneficial service to boost our morale. Conservatives have been beaten up, lied to, and let down by our own so much lately, and with hope and trust at an all-time low, it’s important to get our batteries recharged by some rousing, inspiring orators now and then; but soaring, passionate, patriotic rhetoric with no tangible leadership experience lowers the bar exponentially for what we actually and desperately NEED in a president. Rhetoric is no substitute for experience, and Commander in Chief is not an entry level position. That’s just a 2×4 of reality to your noggins, folks. We don’t need a president on training wheels.

Diagnosis and the cure

We survived mild cases of American Idol Syndrome during the 2012 election when candidates rose to the top of the polls for their rousing speeches, catchy campaign slogans (remember Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan?), media smackdowns, and snark and sass put downs of Obama and then were knocked off their pedestals when another stepped in to do the same. Each “flavor of the month” enjoyed generous attention from media heads, pundits, and bloggers, and it was only after serious and dutiful Iowans weeded the field of the flash and splash that true sincerity, authenticity, and substance was revealed in the person and candidate of Rick Santorum, who despite hanging in limbo at low single digits in the polls all year, won the Iowa Caucus and 10 other states by communicating substantive truths in a winsome, articulate, relatable way that won over the hearts and trust of Iowa Caucus goers. They ignored the pollsters and pundits who wouldn’t give Santorum the time of day and instead checked him out and put him through the wringer at the 385 town hall meetings he hosted throughout all 99 counties in the state. They had the opportunity to see and hear him up close and personal, unfiltered by media bias and hype. No glitz and gimmick. Just Santorum and serious voters having real eye to eye contact in conversations about the issues they were most concerned about. In the end, this is what mattered, and the fruits of his tenacious shoe leather campaigning were never reflected in any of the polls until just days before the Caucus. His improbable victory blew the minds of all the political experts who had scoffed and laughed at his low attention candidacy. Imagine that. The critically acclaimed documentary “Caucus” by AJ Schnack captures the 2012 Iowa Caucus saga beautifully and in quite an entertaining fashion. It’s available for viewing on Netflix and iTunes and I highly recommend it.

But the media hype of 2012 pales in comparison to 2016 where we now have a full blown epidemic of American Idol Syndrome. The latest polls seem to indicate now even Iowans have fallen victim to this more virulent form of this contagion this election cycle, but fortunately there is a cure. Turn off Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Erick Erickson, Steve Deace, Ann Coulter, and all the other talking heads and political elitist pundits and “experts” who want us to defer judgment to them to pick a candidate for us because they know so much better than we do how to thwart the continuance of the Bush Dynasty . Do you seriously trust a talk show host and blogger who admits to having a mancrush on a candidate to make a clear-minded recommendation for you?? You don’t need a Pied Piper. You just need to listen to the candidates themselves. Do your own homework and compare their rhetoric and records on the critical issues of the day and what they actually bring to the table that qualifies them to take on this monumental, stress filled, 24/7 job.

 First line of defense: Iowans

Iowans, I’d ask you to please take this matter as seriously as you always have. It’s up to you as first in the nation to ask every candidate tough and often uncomfortable questions the rest of us don’t have the opportunity to ask, and you must continue to demand honest, straightforward, detailed answers to those questions. It’s up to you to differentiate between the showboating performers and the true and sincere statesmen focused on doing the right thing for all Americans with a real plan of action and a record you can trust they will keep their word. Who has had to study up, be coached or tutored, and who actually knows all this from the inside out, with battle scars and a record proving real hands on experience? The well-oiled political weather vanes should be easy enough to distinguish as well. The field is full of them, and they spin about this direction and that on their own egos and poll generated hot air. Weed prudently. There are a lot of copycats too. You know who the real deal is. You should be able to easily detect the policy pirates and imitators. We don’t want or need imposters regardless of how good they sound to you. We want fleshed out policy, not talking points. We can’t afford to get this wrong.

Vet smart and wisely, Iowa. You can inject a good dose of substantive, common sense antibody to combat American Idol Syndrome and stop it in its tracks before your Caucuses. Recommend to us a true and authentic Statesman, not a showman who talks a good game or sermonizes people into a euphoric trance. You did a really good job last time around. You chose well. You got it right, and America should have followed your lead. Imagine the last 3 years had voters actually done that! I know the media and RNC establishment have been trying to downplay and erode your influence on this election and with great regularity imply YOU got it wrong last time. Look no further for proof of this than the unprecedented disrespect and disregard they have for your 2012 Caucus winner.

You are the first line of defense to keep the media, and I mean ALL media including infatuated conservative talking heads, from picking and forcing a candidate on us. We are counting on you. Don’t let us down!

4 thoughts on “Vetting Candidates 2016: American Idol Style

  1. Thank You for the realistic analyses of what is going on with our political system, both broken parties are full of people and followers with special interest at heart who want to pick and speak for the American People. Not because it is in the interest of the American People but because it is in the “know nothing self fulling agenda of the pundit best interest (it’s all about me syndrome). Those who want to run the game for their own fulfillment.
    Well I run my own vetting and I do my own picking I don’t need these bozo’s to tell me who to choose!!

  2. Great article, we can’t let the GOP Establishment pick our Nominee ever again. It’s shameful that Reince Priebus is allowing Polls to determing the GOP Debate lineup. I trust the voters of Iowa to get it right, again!

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