Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In politics, a belly ablaze replaces gravitas

AS WE STUMBLE to another presidential election in the hazy distance, this will be the moment when new criteria are accorded wannabe candidates. Unlike the sensible days when we judged the aspirants on whether they had "gravitas" or whether he or she was an alpha person, today's standard is whether any of them has "fire in the belly." Haley Barbour, you may recall, retired to the bleachers with the explanation that his settled tummy told him that he needn't bother. On the other hand, Sarah Palin took umbrage to reports that she had suspended her ballyhooed tour because she no long saw the oval office in her future. (Nor did the media that grew tired of her stunt and stopped covering it!) She reminded anyone who still cared that she was not a quitter and still had a blazing belly.

I spent my childhood around immigrants who kept Alka-Seltzer at their fingertips after a hell fire dinner that could have been serviceable to clean battery terminals. Their agony was never very easy to witness. On this topic, trust me. I know what I'm talking about.

I think we ought to find other ways for candidates to judge their personal ambitions. The level of gray matter in their skulls would be a valid indicator of whether to be or not to be. A maximum of three dumb statements would disqualify one faster than a fiery dyspeptic belly, don't you think? That would eliminate most of the Republican field, including the alphas. And one of the things I learned when candidates were being judged by the gravitas quotient was that most voters had no idea what the pundits meant. (I do recall being told by one astute observer that he was certain gravitas was a major league shortstop.)

Well, I'm digressing, I know. But it comes from paying too much attention to the oddest things that will determine the next GOP presidential nominee - if, as we are repeatedly being warned, the world doesn't end sooner.

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