Aside from being half in love with Ace over this post and this post and even this post (about Ron Paul – seriously, where has this Ace been? I like him)… I’ve been busy. Thinking. Which does not usually bode well for that which I think about.
I’ve been thinking about politics in a general sort of way. Mainly, I’ve been thinking about how some people get elected. Specifically, how people get elected when they truly have no platform. Oh, I’m not talking about the people with rotten positions, or positions you don’t agree with, or positions that are just simply wrong. Oh no, anybody with any position no matter how crazy can find at least a few followers willing to drink the Kool-Aid with him when the comet arrives to take them to the Mothership.
No, I’m thinking specifically about the people who don’t really stand for anything. At least, they don’t appear to stand for anything. Huckabee comes to mind. Oh, if you dig around long enough, and many people have (hence the recent spate of Huckabashing on many blogs), you can find out what he’s all about. But I’m not convinced that the average voter truly knows what that man wants to do to the government. Oh, they know he’s an Evangelical pastor, and he’s charming, and that’s pretty much it. So why does he have all this support? That goes double for Obama. You have to really dig to find his platform.
I’ve heard from Republicans that Huckabee would unite us all because of his personality. That he wouldn’t continue the “partisanship” that has flourished under Bush. I’ve heard the same from Democrats about Obama. And the question has crossed my mind more than once, what is it that these two men have that convinces others of their sincerity? They’re charming, certainly. Is charm that powerful? And why does charm make people trust them?
JFK had charm, in spades. He had so much that he is still, some 40 years after his death, one of the most popular presidents ever. Why? I’ve read, somewhere, some fairly convincing arguments blaming him for the Cold War, nuclear proliferation, and Castro (among other things). People still love him. But what did he really have? Good looks, boyish charm, family money, and a liberal view. Bah.
And then there is President Clinton. And by President Clinton I mean Bill; I’m not making a prediction here or anything about his Mrs. His race against Bob Dole was the very first in which I was eligible to vote, so I remember it well. (I don’t remember any solid policies he ran on. I just knew he was a Democrat, and was thus to be defeated. I was a Republican at the time. Sigh.) He has charm. He has a great deal of charm. When he won against Dole, I blamed that charm for his win. I’m less certain of that now, but he is just so damned likeable. So people voted for him.
Hillary is a study of contrasts with her husband. She’s not likable. She is so lacking in charm that even her fellow Democrats question her sincerity when she squeezes out a tear on the campaign trail.
And I think that’s what bothers me most about the whole charm issue. People equate charm with sincerity as if liking somebody for their indefinable charisma means that the charming person is more likely to be earnest.
And I don’t know why. The reverse should be true. When someone is that charming, that smooth, without any certain proof of their sincerity, we should all run in the other direction as fast as we possibly can. That charm is likely covering something they want to gloss over, something they want to hide. Huckabee comes to mind. He’s very charming, as is Obama. Could that charm get one of them into the White House? I hope not.