Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey 2016

This is the first in a series of Kitman letters or non-blogs dealing with a subject that is even more exciting than the Oscars.

There are now 25 candidates who have answered the Republican Party establishment’s call for new faces to run for president in 2016.

So many are lining up for the race for the gold —and the chance to face Ms. Clinton next year –it reminds me of the start of the New York Marathon at the Verrazano Bridge every November.

As the thundering herd began delivering State of the State messages and other instruments indicating they are ready to make sacrifices for the public good by seeking higher office, it occurred to me it might be a good idea if the candidates wore numbers around their necks so we could keep track as the media race heats up. Who knows what Kasich of Ohio or Pence of Indiana or Walker of Wisconsin or Jindal of Louisiana look like?

Among the new faces who have answered the call, a call in some cases which only a dog can hear, is Rick Perry, who cut short his seemingly lifetime governorship of the great state of Texas to enter the election derby. Technically, he is only a semi-new face, having dropped out of the last run for the roses when he was hobbled by a memory loss. Even he might be hard to recognize this time around with new look glasses. They either make Rick the Unready, look like an intellectual or nerd. In other preparations for the grind, he reportedly has been taking Gingkold every morning.

And while I am being constructive about how to improve the public’s recognition of the Republican notables, it might be useful if the potential candidates were required to wear logos of their sponsors on their jackets, like Nascar drivers. It would aid transparency to know who represents Wall Street bankers, Boeing, health insurance industry, Big Oil, and other vested interests, which we might not find out until after Election Day.

The stampede began this time with new face Jeb Bush, who chose a unique way to declare his period of soul searching and ambivalence had ended.

In ye olden times, announcements of candidacy were made on “The Larry King Show.” The suspendermeister on CNN was the media icon of choice because candidates knew he would not start laughing. “You must be kidding?” He would not embarrass them by bringing up a previous record of under-achievement or ask whether the indictment would hurt his poll numbers?

On January 9, the scion of a family whose name some of us are still trying to forget made history by making the announcement on Facebook. Thus, Jeb was able to pledge emphatically he will be staying true to his beliefs, no matter how they seemed to evolve over the years. His friends were able to like such unmentioned things in his past as all the failed start-ups he had urged investors to fund before they went bust.

Soon really serious candidates will be telling what they stand for on Twitter or for those who don’t want to be hassled by excess verbiage, Instagram or the even pithier Snapchat.

The Republican livestock was improved further a few days later by the startling announcement that Mitt Romney had bitten the bullet. He chose the new way to break the news of his availability at a donor meeting attended by a cross- section of average billionaires, who leaked it.

Holy Mormon! I found myself thinking. Romney! Wowee! This is going to be even more exciting than I thought.

Hadn’t he told the New York Times reporter who had the audacity to ask last year if he was planning to run again – in a response that will live in the annals of political candor as being even more emphatic than Gen. Sherman’s “I do not choose to run for president”— “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. No, no, no.”

His qualifications for keeping with the party’s establishment search for fresh faces is this is not the same Mitt the Flip flopper we had in 2008 and 2012. Romney 3.0, his supporters assure us, will be different. He won’t be strapping his dog to the roof of his station wagon. He won’t be mentioning the number 47 as in “47%.” He wont be making any thousand dollar bets with Rick Perry or any other well –off Republican orator.

Romney is to be praised for not letting his last two failures getting him down. He is in the mainstream of Republican failures. After all, Reagan and Nixon both whiffed twice.

But doesn’t America hate losers? Where would the TV industry be for the last 75 years without repeats? And wasn’t the West won with the invention of the Repeater Rifle?

The question remains: What makes Mitty run?

“Mitt has been successful in everything he’s done,” a close friend told the Times. “He’s never failed at anything.”

There is an old Shoshone folk saying, “If at first you don’t fail, try, try again.”*


* It may have been Paiute, Ute or Navajo.


Marvin Kitman
Jan. 19, 2015

Marvin Kitman was the media critic at Newsday. His column, “The Marvin Kitman Show,” began on Dec. 7, 1969, a day that still lives in infamy, according to network executives. On April 1, 2005, he stepped down from his position of power. As he explained, “Newsday gave me a tryout, and after 35 years we decided it wasn’t working out.” He is the author of nine books.