2012 GOP Presidential Candidates Fail to Meet Mental Health Standards (February 12, 2012)

This week I came across a comment in a decidedly apolitical magazine, Entertainment Weekly, that stopped me in my tracks. Having recycled the glossy already, I’ve forgotten the name of the columnist who surveyed the present theatrical penchant for nudity (with special recognition going to the, um, well-endowed Michael Fassbender). During the course of this entertaining column, the author also bestowed accolades upon legendary actress Meryl Streep, for imbuing “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher with a confident sexiness in her recently Oscar-nominated performance.

That was eyebrow raising enough, having recalled from my youth a stuffy, conservative British woman with helmet hair and a penchant for neck-obscuring silk scarves. But further, Entertainment Weekly’s liberal columnist suggested that even in the throes of advanced dementia, it might be worth rousing the elderly Thatcher from her sick bed in order to provide the U.S. Republican caucus with a credible presidential candidate.

While the larger theme of the column was cinema, I think the piece made a prescient point about a lack of credibility from the current crop of GOP hopefuls. It is a phenomenon that has become almost incredibly easy to ignore given the seriousness with which the media has either chosen (Fox) or been forced (CNN) to the take candidates.

As I intimated in my column last week, no matter who emerges victorious from the charade that has become the Republican primaries, and despite attacks from many corners of the electorate, it’s difficult to imagine President Obama facing a credible challenge. Because even if we keep the bar of fitness for running the nation fairly low to the ground, for example going no higher than basic sanity, I would think Obama has to be the choice for most of the mainstream. It occurred to me that if entertainment magazines can sort of nonchalantly point out the obvious, our position may be stronger than the insulated extreme right can grasp.

Consider that current momentum-builder Rick Santorum has a “family values” history that includes behaviors even many conservatives might find macabre. An ABC News blog post from early January quotes liberal Fox News contributor Alan Colmes (ahem, I will take that label with a grain of salt) as saying, “Get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like taking his two-hour-old baby when it died right after child birth home and played with it so that his other children would know that the child was real.”

Unfortunately folks, that is not an incendiary rumor. This happened. And while I am in no position to judge the actions of a grieving parent, when a member of the corporate media arm of your party thinks you might be a little nutso, there may be fire from whence the smoke is emanating.

Fox News (I will continue to use the example as long as it helps my case) has also addressed the old yarn about Mitt Romney driving to Canada in the early 1980s with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car. It is true that Romney was only 36 years-old at the time, but really, isn’t that mature enough to know better? A piece by columnist Lanny Davis is precisely titled, “Why Romney’s ‘dog on car roof’ story makes him unfit to be president.”

I have not space enough to address the long and voluminous history of Crazy Town Mayor Newt Gingrinch. Suffice it to say that during a national job interview process that requires a sustained disposition toward good judgment, none of the GOP’s “Big Three” can bear a comparison with the POTUS.

Barack H. Obama is many things to many people, but hotheaded and irrational are not adjectives that come up often, even amongst his most violent critics. The Commander-in-Chief may be calm and poised even to a point of frustration (for me) at certain times, but all things considered, I will take that over candidates who believe strapping living creatures to the luggage rack represents a sound traveling strategy.

To return to my initial point, I think it says a lot that there’s a strain of common nostalgia for the likes of conservative stalwart Margaret Thatcher. Even if you disagree with nearly everything she stood for as Prime Minister (as I decidedly do), she wasn’t easy to dismiss. And there were never any questions about her basic competence. A show of hands for Republican presidential candidates that can say the same? Not so fast Santorum, Mittens and Newty.


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