Gary Hofmeister: Voting tall, dark and handsome
November 7, 2010
Steamboat Springs — A very astute woman friend who's been in the political field her entire life once told me "you gotta have hair to be elected." It's not 100 percent true, but the point was made. She might have added: Attractive people have the skids greased a bit easier than the rest of us.
This was proven dramatically two years ago with the election of the charismatic President Barack Obama, whom everyone knew had a very skimpy résumé. However, perception and perhaps hope trumped our normal cynicism about politicians, so voters gave him the biggest job in the world anyway. On Tuesday, an amazing number of those folks reversed themselves with a message of rejection to that same man. This was only a continuance of the changed minds of independents that started in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts many months ago, which the experts deemed to be nearly 25 percent of those voters. This was and is unprecedented.
Now, we can and certainly will argue as to whether this is directly due to the president's policies or just his bad luck presiding over a horrendous economy and job situation. But that is not my point here. Rather, I am focusing on the American propensity to "vote for the man (or woman)" rather than the party or a core set of principles and political philosophy. Personally, I believe this to be a mistake, but I concede it is a fact. It also appears to be a fact that with Obama's "shellacking," the opportunity for him to be replaced in 2012 is open. Who on the Republican side will it be? The pundits will make our eyes gloss over ruminating about it for the next 24 months. Ugh.
This past election was counterintuitive in several areas of the political world in a manner we rarely have seen. Incumbency was viewed almost as a liability rather than the badge of honor it always had seemed. "Bringing home the bacon" for your district was no longer something to brag about because much of the public finally had noticed that the spending had reached the point of incredible irresponsibility. Even if they got their own portion of the goodies from an unrepentant ear-marker, they began to wonder if the process could sink us all in the long run. As I've written here before, I have never heard so many people use the words fear and scared, and the fiscal madness of this administration topped the list eliciting that emotion. Voters seemed willing to even forgo their own wish list if it meant we might cure the problem at its origin.
I think this directly will affect the choice we make for president in 2012. In essence, charisma and flowery speeches are out. Obama has poisoned them. In addition, he has fouled the water for many other politicians who look straight out of Central Casting for the part of president. Mitt Romney and Sen. John Thune come to mind. I contend 2012 will be the year for plain talk and tough decisions. Instead of tall, dark and handsome, 2012 will be the year for short, bald and brilliant. And no presidential prospect in the entire U.S. can lay claim to that better than Gov. Mitch Daniels, of Indiana. Always known as the smartest guy in the room with a resumé encompassing business, politics and intellectualism, he also has a courageous reputation for looking you in the eye and giving you the bad news if that's what is needed. Americans proved Tuesday that they're ready to abandon superficial in favor of competence.
Gary Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat Springs, a company he founded in 1973. He is a director of The Steamboat Institute and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana. He made 18 trips to the former USSR to teach democratic capitalism during the 1990s.