Ambiguity and Abstraction: The Generic GOP

Throughout the entire GOP presidential debate this past week, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching ESPN rather than CNN. I’ll explain. We’re all familiar with the post-game interviews that take place down on the field or on the court after a professional sporting event. Usually conducted by a mildly attractive reporter, these interviews are typically, shall we say, less than enlightening. The interview might go something like this:

Mildly Attractive Reporter: “So, Jebron Lames, how did you feel about tonight’s performance?”

Jebron: “Well, I felt like we played really hard and had some great plays under the basket and we really got it done out there tonight?”

Mildly Attractive Reporter: “What do you think the key to tonight’s win was?”

Jebron: “Well, we played real hard and put more points on the board than the other team … basically we out-basketballed the other basketball players.”

Granted the mildly attractive reporter was John King, who I guess we could say is … cute, and the candidates are not professional athletes (though I wonder about Newt Gingrich sometimes), but the entire process seemed like I was watching reruns of SportsCenter for two hours. Don’t get me wrong — there are a couple of the candidates whom I actually feel have the credentials and the talents for the White House, while the rest would be better off sticking to making narrow-minded comments on their news network of choice. My regard for some of the candidates didn’t change the mundane rhetoric that we’ve been hearing over and over again.  Like the post-game interview, the “debate” went something like this:

John: “What needs to be done to stimulate and jump-start our slumping economy?”

Candidate: “President Obama has destroyed our economy, he has failed the American people, and he has not created policies that encourage growth.”

John: “But the question was what needs to be done in order to jump-start the economy.”

Candidate: “President Obama’s policies have destroyed our economy. We need to cut taxes, revamp entitlement programs, get people back to work, and cut spending.”

I swear I’ve heard these answers before. Now, obviously a debate is hardly the setting for a detailed explanation of a candidate’s plans, but at least give us something original and realistic that we as potential voters can sink our teeth into! We know you don’t like President Obama, we know the generic conservative solutions to America’s problems, we know that you each have five children and 15 grandchildren, we know that we have a bit of a debt problem, but what we don’t know is if there is a candidate within the Republican Party who can actually bring something new and innovative to the table. The Republican Party needs a candidate they can be proud of, and not someone who makes them cringe every time they step up to a microphone. A candidate who knows who Paul Revere is wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

There are some intelligent and qualified presidential hopefuls within the Republican Party, and a couple of them participated in this last week’s debate, but until those potential candidates get away from the post-game interview mode and their typical rhetoric, a candidate the Republicans can be proud of is going to be hard to come by in 2012. Where’s John Wayne when you need him?