1. Opinion

Ruth: Politicians pretending not to be politicians

Published May 6, 2015

As he took the stage in Detroit the other day, Dr. Ben Carson made it clear he is "not a politician."

Of course, the retired surgeon offered up this revelation standing in front of a massive American flag as he announced his intention to run for president, the most political job on the planet.

In seeking the Republican nomination, Carson will travel the country delivering political speeches, ask citizens for their political votes, lean on donors to make political contributions to his political campaign, seek the political advice of political consultants and carefully peruse the political polling data reflecting his political standing against his political opponents.

The good doctor will open various campaign offices, populated by political staffers working on behalf of his political interests. His political supporters will hand out political campaign buttons and political yard signs heralding his political crusade.

Dr. Carson? You're a politician. Now we'll find out if you're any good at it.

One could argue that anyone seeking the presidency who proudly claims they lack political skills should immediately be disqualified from holding the office purely on the basis of gullibility in the first degree. This is a bit like Howard Stern insisting he's offended by naughty words.

But this is the "getting to know you" season of presidential politics when candidates seek to introduce — and in some cases re-re-re-introduce — themselves to the public. And it is a time when candidates often engage in a spasm of disingenuousness rivaling the House of Cards' Frank Underwood just before he dispatches a problematic minion in front of a subway train.

Mogul Carly Fiorina pulled out her own version of "you might think that … I couldn't possibly comment" approach to pretending not to be politician when in her video announcement of her presidential candidacy she solemnly intoned: "Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class."

That sure has to be news to the founders, who were about as astutely politically duplicitous and conniving as a Chicago ward heeler. Fiorina went on to bemoan the sad state of political affairs today, asking if the public was "tired of the sound bites, the vitriol, the pettiness, the egos, the corruption?"

Not really.

Fiorina might as well have been talking about the presidential campaign of 1800, which was filled with vicious personal attacks, dirty tricks and all manner of shenanigans. And who were the candidates? Two of the noble founders — Thomas Jefferson (the winner) and John Adams, who suggested were his opponent to win the presidency the chastity of women across the land would be at great risk.

It's a little late in the game for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to feign great offense over the label "politician." So instead, the former 2008 presidential candidate opted for the "coal miner's son" route in portraying himself as a simple man from simple roots, more blue collar than blue blood.

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And while Huckabee may come from humble stock, his stock has performed rather well in the political marketplace of schemes.

Since his last campaign, Huckabee has enjoyed a stint as a Fox News host, peddled books and traveled the lecture circuit on the way to accumulating an estimated net worth of $5 million and a $3 million manse in Destin. More recently, the candidate was grifting for a dubious dietary supplement he claimed cured diabetes, as well as miracle treatment for cancer found in the Bible and a product geared for the "We're all doomed!" crowd called Foods4Patriots survival kits, presumably to be opened when the United Nations or the Planet Zircon Seven occupies the country.

Sort of makes you wonder if Huckabee is actually running for Shrill Shill-in-Chief.

During his presidential announcement in Hope, Ark., Huckabee told supporters he was not the darling of Wall Street big-shots. That is a euphemism for "I'm having a hard time raising money."

Carson, Fiorina and Huckabee are joining Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican primary swimsuit competition. The field is starting to look like The Gong Show of the GOP. Jeb Bush is still pretending not to be an official candidate, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he will announce his plans in the next few weeks, leaving an anxious nation waiting.

That Lindsey Graham. He's such a tease.


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