By now, most of you have probably either seen or heard of Rick Perry’s legendary brain freeze in last week’s GOP primary debate. Perry announced that he would eliminate three federal agencies if he were elected President and, for 53 agonizing seconds, was unable to recall what the third agency was. Now, I understand that everyone has a bad night. I understand that public policy is a whirlwind of facts and to remember all of them all the time is next to impossible.
However, the idea that Perry cannot remember the names of three major federal agencies that he would eliminate under a plan that he supposedly created is ridiculous. And Perry is not the only Republican candidate whose actions should make us question their ability to govern our country. He has proven himself to be merely the best coiffured of a disappointingly unimpressive Republican field.
Michele Bachmann is on record for saying that the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in New Hampshire (it was actually Massachusetts). While her apparent lack of knowledge about the period of history from which her whole candidacy draws its inspiration is troubling, what is downright pathetic are her past statements on gay and lesbian issues. Bachman has stated that she believes that homosexuals suffer from “sexual dysfunction” and “sexual identity disorders.” Her husband operated a clinic that subscribed to the idea that homosexuals could be “cured” of their “disease.” Not only are such positions extremely bigoted, they also reveal ignorance about basic facts.
Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, has added his own unique perspective to the issue. He has equated homosexuality to bestiality. That should be enough to make us question his fitness for the highest office in the land.
Herman Cain, a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has recently garnered attention for his surprising rise in the polls. Cain based his candidacy on his business experience and economic expertise. He admitted that he did not know much about foreign policy. However, trivializing what is constitutionally the main function of the presidency by claiming the irrelevance of knowing the name of the leader of “ubeki-beki-beki stan stan” is idiotic and irresponsible. The fact is, foreign policy issues, most of them mind-numbingly complex, will command most of the next president’s attention.
Far more alarming, Cain has been beset by multiple accusations of sexual harassment. And Cain is not alone in his questionable sexual morals. Newt Gingrich had the gall to carry on impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton for lying about sex at the same time as he was having an affair with another woman. Even more disgusting, he tried to negotiate divorce proceedings with his first wife while visiting her in the hospital where she was recovering from surgery.
Ron Paul seems more interested in gutting the federal government than running it, as the libertarian congressman wants to eliminate everything from the Department of Education to the Federal Reserve. John Huntsman claims he has foreign policy experience that none of his competitors can match, including the ability to speak Mandarin. It turns out that when one actually translates what Huntsman says (as was done when he appeared on the Colbert Report) it comes out as meaningless gibberish. That lie alone should give us pause.
All of this brings us back to Mitt Romney. On the surface, Romney certainly comes the closest to our archetypal ideal of a presidential candidate. He comes from a political family, went to good schools and has a mix of government and business experience. He even looks like our classic vision of a president. All of this ultimately comes to naught however, because Romney has consistently shown a lack of conviction. There is scarcely any issue of importance in this race that he has not at some point taken both sides of. More troubling is the fact that Romney has flip-flopped on abortion. He defended abortion rights when he was governor of Massachusetts but now presents himself as a pro-lifer. The fact that Romney is willing to flip his position on an issue that supposedly touches on our most sacred ethics betrays exactly how much of a craven opportunist he is.
Given all of this, it is my opinion that none of these candidates are fit to hold the office of the President. The fact that these men and this woman have come to dominate one of our venerable political parties speaks to exactly how broken our political process is.