NPR logo Conservative Columnist Tells GOP White House Hopefuls: Get Serious

Conservative Columnist Tells GOP White House Hopefuls: Get Serious

In a New York Post column, conservative John Podhoretz lets the Republican field of presidential candidates have it for, in his opinion, not rising to the level of seriousness or dignity of the office they're seeking.

Podhoretz, who is also the editor of Commentary, the Jewish opinion magazine, offered a fairly harsh indictment of the candidates that taps into the uneasiness not a few Republicans have with how the would-be GOP nominees they have to choose from.

An excerpt:

Memo to the Republican field: You're running for president. Of the United States. Of America. Start acting like it.

Stop proposing nonsense tax plans that won't work. Stop making ridiculous attention-getting ads that might be minimally acceptable if you were running for county supervisor in Oklahoma. Stop saying you're going to build a US-Mexico border fence you know perfectly well you're not going to build.

Give the GOP electorate and the American people some credit. This country is in terrible shape. They know it. You know it. They want solutions. You're providing comedy.

Maybe Podhoretz misses the contribution the Republican field is making. Maybe what because the country is in such bad shape what some voters are looking for is comedy. (John Avlon, the Newsweek columnist, captures some of the flavor of the GOP campaign in a piece on CNN's website.)

David Frum, who like Podhoretz also served as a speech writer in a Republican White House, recently suggested in a column that worried openly about the meaning of Herman Cain's rise that the problem may be that Republican voters aren't looking for is proven competence in governing.

That bothered him no less than the alleged lack of seriousness on the part of the GOP candidates troubles Podhoretz.

According to Frum, the choice of a relatively inexperienced leader to be president, as was the case with President Obama, was a reaction to the mismanagement many voters associated with President George W. Bush who had much more government experience when he took office.

You might expect Republicans to react similarly against the Obama presidency, demanding from their nominee skills that Obama lacked: administrative experience, negotiating skill, deep policy knowledge.

But no. From Donald Trump to Michele Bachmann to Herman Cain, the Republican activist base has again and again fixed its hopes on people who have never held an executive public office — and who defiantly reject the very idea of expertise.

Which maybe helps explain why the candidates are acting as they are.