Why do Americans get so upset when their candidates – or their Presidents – are not "folksy" enough? I read how Obama looks uncomfortable drinking a "Bud" with blue collar guys at an American Legion post, or how Hillary and her pants suits really don’t fit in at a barbecue at a county fair. The columnists and the op-ed contributors keeping repeating the same line: "They just don’t seem to fit in and look like they’re one of the people."
So, OK. maybe that’s true. Maybe they don’t feel at home at an
American Legion post, or at a pick up b-ball game. Or, they look awkward painting a house, or fixing their own plumbing or mowing a lawn. So what. I wasn’t aware that the ability to do any of these things – or to be, or look, folksy, was a requirement for elected office. The three current candidates all went to college, two of them to graduate school, at places like Anapolis, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Wellesley. That immediately elevates them above "folksy" since most of us did not attend such schools. The current president – Mr. Folksy – is a product of Yale and Harvard, and a member of an old line New England blue blood family who convinced a gullible electorate that he was "just plain folks" by speaking with a down home Texas drawl and mispronouncing "nuclear" as "NUKULER" the way many "just plain folks" do. He’s folksy, all right. But, in his case folksy is synonomous with "moron."
McCain will try to do the same thing, by the way, trying to look and sound like one of the guys. No, he won’t mispronounce nuclear, but he will make a point of not hiding where he finished in his class at the Naval Academy – second from the bottom, I believe – in order to prove he is not one of those Democratic intellectual, snobbish over achievers.
Well, you know something, this folksy stuff, and this I am not a great student stuff, is all a bunch of crap. I don’t want my leader to be one of the people. I don’t want a leader with a C- average. I want a leader who can hob nob with the other leaders of this world, not with their aides or servants, and impress them with his/her brains, class, knowledge and sophistication. I want a leader who is smart – smarter than I – who demonstrated early on that he/she was willing to put in the effort to suceeed in a top, competitive, educational institution. It doesn’t have to be Ivy League, but it should be challenging. In short, I am not looking for "just plain folks" to run this country. Folksy did a lousy job over the last 7+ years. Let’s try something else. Let’s go for smart, well educated, and worldly. That said…the unfortunate truth is that "folksy" gets folks elected in this incredibly unsophisticated land of ours, so I guess I may just be spitting into the wind.