Politicians don’t have to be perfect, but they should follow the rules

Categorized as 06/20/11 Goshen News column

Groucho Marx was tough as well.  “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Maybe one of the reasons that he, along with so many Americans, was disillusioned is the mind-boggling amount of money that’s spent just to make it into office.

“Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.”  That was Will Rogers’ take on the deal.  Even President Kennedy joked about it.  “I just received the following wire from my generous daddy:  ‘Dear Jack, don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary.  I’ll be (switched) if I’m going to pay for a landslide.’”

It’s easy, I suppose, to forget that the people we elect are – well, people, too.  They make mistakes, speak without thinking, and flat-out get it wrong sometimes, just like us.  They simply do it on a bigger stage.   When they fight with each other, we know it.

“Recession is when your neighbor loses his job.  Depression is when you lose yours.  And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”  This jab came from President Reagan.  John Kerry went after George Bush during their campaign with this zinger:  “Here I am in the state of New Mexico.  George Bush is still in the state of denial.  New Mexico has five electoral votes.  The state of denial has none.  I like my chances.”

And sometimes, they’re downright funny.   For instance, when a little boy asked President Kennedy how he became a war hero, he replied, “It was absolutely involuntary.  They sank my boat.”

“My esteem in this country has gone up substantially,” President Carter said.  “It is very nice now (that) when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.”  This proves that presidents have feelings just like us and that a friendly wave can mean a lot.  “There is absolutely no circumstance whatsoever under which I would accept that spot (the vice presidency).  Even if they tied and gagged me, I would find a way to signal by wiggling my ears.”  This came from a potential candidate who went on to become president.  Twice.

“Why am I running for president?” John McCain (R-AZ) said when asked.  “Well, my wife, Cindy, says it is because I sustained several severe blows to the head in prison camp.”

Sometimes they say goofy stuff, just like us.  “Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”  I doubt that the Chamber of Commerce cheered when Marion Barry, former D.C. mayor, came forth with this observation.    Now here’s the bottom line.  We’re not asking our elected representatives to be perfect.  We, the voters, know full well that the title before the name bestows no super powers, no heightened intelligence.  It’s a job, a sacred trust we’ve given them, to work on our behalf.  All we ask in return is that they follow the rules, do what’s right, stop spending more than they’ve got, and tell the truth.  Just like us.

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