February 22, 2016 8:00 AM
Well, after Saturday night I’ve been jilted. Maybe you have as well. We are eight days out from the Georgia Republican Presidential Primary and my pick has dropped out. I know others suffered from “Bush Fatigue” and apparently even $100+ million cannot buy you political love, but I liked Jeb(!). Why? Simple. I did not have to agree with him on everything he did as Governor of Florida to respect his conservative reforms to real world problems and willingness to take political risks in doing so. Besides, he is a decent man.
So be it. No time to mourn at being left at the altar. Scenes of wind-swept frozen fields of Iowa, picturesque snowy New England villages, and political mud wrestling in neighboring South Carolina are behind us. The Georgia primary is now just around the corner. Time to hook up with someone new.
So who among the remaining Republican candidates has the vision, political temperament, and experience to lead the GOP next fall and serve successfully as our nation’s 45th president? You may have your criteria. Here is mine as I look back to past Republican leaders and weigh my choices.
“If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Alice in Wonderland
Our nation has been blessed during pivotal moments in our history to have been led by presidents who could see the pathway out of the quagmire of their times. This required the necessary vision to see beyond the next ten feet and to the distant horizon. Who among these remaining candidates can articulate not only what is wrong with America today but how we will solve it and what our country will look like when we do?
For me, I am not interested in someone who only wants to scare us into fearing the dark, locking our doors, drawing our shades, and blaming our neighbors. I want someone who convinces people to turn on a light, step out, and join others to face the dangers before us. I want a candidate who can project an optimistic vision as Teddy Roosevelt did with his Square Deal or Ronald Reagan called for with his Morning in America.
“This is a simple game. You have to throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. You got it?” Bull Durham
Politics is a lot like baseball. You start with the fundamentals but then have to put it all together as a team on the field. In the end, you cannot go it alone if you want to successful. In politics this means having the people skills to convince people to line up behind you. Otherwise, you’re like that crackpot with too many opinions we all try to avoid at family gatherings. I want someone like Dwight Eisenhower who in times of war and peace recognized and channeled the best in others and inspired them to follow.
“It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.” Raiders of the Lost Ark
The presidency is not an entry-level position but the experience necessary to be successful is not judged merely in years in political office or by the number of government positions on one’s resume. If so, Abraham Lincoln’s disastrous predecessor James Buchanan would have been one our greatest presidents instead of the Man from Illinois.
The talents Lincoln possessed were forged in his earlier life moments where his skills were tested and lessons were learned. Collectively, they enabled him as president to hold a delicate coalition together, adjust to changing social landscapes, be willing to make unpopular but necessary tactical changes, recognize and promote the talents of others, and drive his cause to victory.
The Future Not the Past
“What’s behind me, it’s not important.” Gumball Rally
It’s good and necessary to look back and learn from the lessons and embrace the positive values of our country’s past but we cannot live there. Individuals who do so will become frustrated and lost in history books, and societies that cling to the their glorious days gone by soon find themselves as mere exhibits in someone else’s museums.
In their times, detractors thought Lincoln an ignorant back woodsman, T.R. a reckless cowboy, Eisenhower dim, and Reagan a mere B actor. So who among the
17 11 6 five remaining candidates can rise above their critics and provide the vision, political temperament, and experience to be our next great president? My vote, and others who are still undecided, are up for bid to whoever can provide that answer.
Your thoughts are welcome while I and others ponder our shrinking choices.