Which Republican Candidate Would You Trust With Your Grandchildren for the Weekend?

Tonight’s Republican presidential debate on CNN was introduced as a sensational TV extravaganza, complete with a wildly cheering audience. My first impression was that American politics has descended to the level of one or all of the following:

  • Gladiators fighting to the death for the entertainment of spectators in a coliseum.
  • A reality television show devoid all meaning and without redeeming social value.
  • A Super Bowl without the great commercials, cheerleaders, and halftime show.

Is it possible to lower the standards any further? You had only to wait for the sponsors of the first two commercials:

  • Movies on Demand: “Watch Lady Gaga anytime.”
  • Wrestle Mania.

Despite the demeaning atmosphere of the televised debate, I thought the four candidates made strong efforts to focus on important issues of government and character.

Imagine, if you can, the words that would describe each of the four candidates in a high school yearbook:

  • Mitt Romney — “Mr. Handsome” and “Most likely to succeed in business.”
  • New Gingrich — “Debating Team Champion” and “Most likely to steal your girlfriend.”
  • Rick Santorum — “Mr. Personality” and “Most religious.”
  • Ron Paul — “Most Intellectual” and “Most likely to succeed in medical school.”

I’m a true-blue Democrat, so I make no claim to objectivity. In my opinion, President Barack Obama would most easily defeat either Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney.

If the Republican candidate is Mr. Gingrich, I fear that the election will turn ugly and  racist. Mr. Gingrich makes no attempt to hide his disdain for President Obama and all African-Americans. I think a Gingrich campaign would bring to the surface a great deal of racism. I’m afraid a significant segment of the country would rally to Mr. Gingrich, but the majority would be so repulsed by the blatant racism that Mr. Obama would win easily.

If the Republican candidate is Mr. Romney, the divide between Romney’s wealth and his brand of vulture capitalism will contrast so sharply with the fortunes and values of working people, the election might indeed resemble “class warfare.” I believe that Mr.  Obama would defeat Mr. Romney in a landslide of possibly historic proportions.

An election between either President Obama and former Sen. Santorum, or Obama and Rep. Ron Paul, would provide American voters with a clear and honest choice. I think both Santorum and Paul are strong advocates of a strong conservative tradition in American politics. President Obama would be favored over either of them at the outset of the campaign. But both Santorum and Paul ane impressive men and either one of them might close the margin to 50-50 during the fall campaign. I see Obama, Santorum and Paul all as wholesome role models for American young people, and probably qualified and competent for the high and demanding office of president of the United States.

A campaign featuring Ron Paul would be quite an educational experience for the American people, probably offering the clearest and least emotional discussion of the issues. Mr. Paul is the longshot, but his ability to answer nearly any question concisely and with clear logic, without dodging, is refreshing and enlightening. I think Mr. Paul and Mr. Obama, as opponents, might bring out the best in each other and in American politics.

Before the age of television and internet, it was believed that the American people most wanted a strong, trusted father figure or grandfather figure as president. Mr. Obama occupies the White House as a family man in the “Father Knows Best” tradition that warms the American heart.

Let me finish on a light note by asking which of the Republican candidates you would be willing to leave your grandchildren with over a long weekend? Here’s my reaction to that question:

  • Mitt Romney — A trusted family man, a good role model, he can easily afford to feed the kids well for the weekend. The drawback is he might spoil them with a lifestyle the children will never again experience.
  • Ron Santorum — Certainly! Mr. Santorum is an excellent role model and would make a fine church youth leader. He’d take the children to church, picnics, and a baseball game. An All-American weekend.
  • Ron Paul — The best grandfather figure, kindly and intellectual. He might introduce the kids to logic or science, or just take them to a good G-rated movie and have a relaxed family weekend.
  • Newt Gingrich — Mr. Gingrich can be very entertaining. He’s a man of the world and a brilliant scholar. I wouldn’t let the children anywhere near Mr. Gingrich. I wouldn’t want the kids picking up any bad habits.

— John Hayden

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