Thursday, September 06, 2007

That's not my resume.
Fred Thompson is officially running for president, leaving the world with one fewer poorly kept secret and pushing one more question of morality to the forefront of my mind. No, it's not: will people vote for someone they don't know much about just because they recognize his face from television? I lived in California in 2003. I'm not even interested in probing the ignorance of the American electorate regarding this issue. What I'm concerned with is explaining to my daughter why our nation's politicians seem to be the only people in our country who earn their job by loudly declaring how unqualified they are for it. It's not just that she won't sit still for a more than four verses of Old MacDonald that worries me. I'm looking for a job now, and I have yet to see an ad asking applicants to prove that they are unconnected with the industry within which the job resides. None of the law vacancies I've read about requires that candidates not be bar certified, and prefers candidates with few or no contacts with the American legal system. I would love to try teaching at the middle or high school level, but I have yet to find an opening for which the ideal candidate is a not an insider. "Please, no certified teachers," is not a popular combination of words. Politicians, however, compete with one another to distance themselves from politics. They do tout their experience, if there is no way they can deny it or recast it, but experience is often more of a hinderance than a help. The last thing a politician needs is a long and principled voting record. All that principled voting brings is accusations of flip-flopping. And God forbid you were a lobbyist. They actually have contacts in Washington that they can call on for favors and support, and they can't obscure them. How horrific! Fred Thompson, current media darling, was (gasp) a lobbyist, though you would never learn it listening to him. He stays as far away from his political experience as an old truck can get him. He got so far away thatr he has trouble remembering who he lobbied for (abortion rights groups didn't seem to pop to mind). He's not a Washington insider. He might even deny playing the President, Ulysses Grant, or a NASCAR bigwhig. Fred Thompson is just an ordinary ... super rich lawyer/actor/senator/friend to the powerful ... good old boy. According to Newsweek he might even be lazy. He must have been thrilled to get that label. Lazy and common (stupid?) won the last two elections. Before that, Bill Clinton (genius and Rhodes Scholar) sold himself as a rough around the edges everyday philanderer ... er guy. So, what is the formula for political success? Must political aspirants be very connected, very successful, very rich, or very smart and be able to deny at least the first one? How do I explain to my daughter that the people who are chosen to be responsible for the future of her country must at least appear as if they aren't qualified to have that responsibility? Maybe the answer isn't in how I explain it, but when. She's 16 months, and her mastery of the language doesn't extend far beyond animal sounds and food, so this may be the perfect time.

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