You aren't too smart, are you? I like that in a man.Matty Walker, Body Heat (1981)
It's fairly easy to document that Republican administrations aren't worried about improving employment statistics.
After all, let's connect the dots: People get jobs, and right away they start wanting fair wages, workplace safety, benefits . . . suddenly it all becomes "me, me, me." Why even start down that slippery slope in the first place?
Still, there's one job category for which modern Republican presidencies have always amounted to a latter-day Works Project Administration. I refer to the jobs of the people whose daily chore it is to follow along behind the chief executive and say, "Uhm, what the President meant to say was . . . "
It's for another time to wonder why it is that the modern Republican Party, like Matty Walker, is drawn to the candidate who can't explain himself without help. But the pattern is hard to ignore: Since 1981 (the same year Matty made her appearance--coincidence?), only Bush the Elder didn't need to have handlers whose job was to explain that the latest mindless thing the President said was taken out of context, or blown out of proportion, or actually fiendishly clever in a "psych!" sort of way. True, Number 41 had a somewhat dodgy relationship with grammar and syntax, but he remains the poster-boy for mental acuity compared to the Republican presidents who came before and after him.
All of which brings us to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's latest outburst, in which he seemed not to recognize the name of NATO ally Spain's president, or indeed to be clear on which continent Spain occupied.
Quick as a bunny, McCain neocon advisor Randy Scheunemann (who's made a foreign policy career out of insisting that the improbable isn't) leapt into the fray:
The Washington Post has gotten hold of McCain's Spain goof. And McCain advisor Randy Scheunemann has sent the Post an email suggesting that McCain knew exactly who Zapatero was and was simply repeating the neocon anti-Zapatero line.
In other words, McCain didn't forget who Zapatero was; this was his way of signaling a reversal of his previous position (and current American policy) of working with Zapatero. Psyche!
Being the Presidential Explainer--it's not only steady work in good times, it's virtually recession-proof, for reasons that this week must seem all to obvious.
Yet I can't help wondering: Wouldn't it better serve the conservative gods of efficiency and smaller government if, instead of hiring a phalanx of cleaners to trail their presidents with push brooms, they simply recruited candidates who had a better idea of what they were doing in the first place?
(Street sweeper image via Ponsonby Britt.)