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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too Much to Ask?

Is it too much to ask that the Republicans field a candidate who can speak in complete sentences and has a rudimentary knowledge of grammar? After eight years of suffering through George W. Bush's mangled syntax and mispronunciations and runon non-sentences, none of which were ever less than cringe-inducing, we now have John McCain. It is painfully apparent from the last debate that McCain did not ace the verbal SATs himself. Who knows, maybe it was the stress of the debate itself which caused McCain to sound so befuddled, maybe he actually sounds like Shakespeare in the privacy of his own house. But he came across like a deer in the headlights -- and a dumb, inarticulate, repetitive one at that -- next to the eloquent, smooth-talking Obama. McCain's goofy grin, worn mostly at inappropriate times, did not help matters either.

Another point. My statistics teacher in business school told us (back in 1983) that in 21 of the previous 22 Presidential elections, the taller candidate won. (By my count, 4 of the next 6 were as well.) Next to the tall, elegant, youthful Obama, McCain looked like a wizened runt. Now, you say, elections shouldn't be decided on such superficialities. And, of course, you're right. They shouldn't be. But they are.

Tall, handsome, and square-jawed Mitt Romney, who is capable of speaking in complete sentences, would have been a far more formidable candidate. But in the primaries he split the conservative vote with Mike Huckabee, another charismatic conservative, so McCain won by plurality. Obama would even have done Romney the favor of removing the "flip-flop" label from him by having changed so many of his own positions during his headlong rush to the center. But perhaps this was a blessing in disguise for Romney. It would have been a near impossibility for a Republican to be elected this year, after these last eight disastrous years. And four years from now, the electorate will be far better acquainted with the real Obama, the one he has so artfully kept hidden, after his post-inaugural rush back to the far left.

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