In Politics, Boring Is A Crime

By:  Rachel Marsden

NEW YORK — When Rudy Giuliani began his 2008 presidential campaign this week, creating front-page news across the country, it reaffirmed one of the biggest unspoken truths in politics.

Many conservatives are scratching their heads, wondering how a guy who is pro-gun control, pro-choice, has appeared publicly in drag for kicks and giggles, and lived with gay roommates after his very public divorce, could ever possibly have any chance to beat a good ol’ conservative straight-arrow like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Easy. In politics, if being boring is the biggest crime you can commit, then Romney should be on Death Row.

The most interesting and colourful candidate usually wins. “Ideas” are secondary. If you don’t believe me, consider the following matchups:

George H. W. Bush vs. Bill Clinton: Clinton didn’t win because of the “issues.” He won because women found him “hot.” He’s Ronald McDonald with a southern drawl, and the nation was mesmerized by his Big Mac.

Pierre Trudeau vs. Robert Stanfield: Poor Bob didn’t stand a chance. Trudeau did ballet behind the Queen of England’s back! He swore! He flips people off! His wife partied with the Rolling Stones! Policies? Whatever. Apparently, military might is unnecessary when your country is run by a “badass.”

George W. Bush vs. Al Gore: Bush didn’t get really interesting until after 9/11, but he was infinitely more fascinating than Al Gore. Gore is a man obsessed with trees, and he did a great impression of one during the debates. He hoovered his wife’s face on stage at the Democratic National Convention. It looked as though a Douglas fir had fallen onto her mouth.

George W. Bush vs. John Kerry: If it was really true that “smart” guys win elections, then Kerry would be president. A mediocre student and a slightly better actor, Kerry used bigger words than Bush and made less sense (the left calls that “nuance”) — just like all our college professors did. And we all remember how exciting they were, right?

Before I go on, here’s an example illustrating an exception to the general rule:

Stephen Harper vs. Paul Martin: It doesn’t matter how boring anyone thought Harper was, because Paul Martin looked like the kind of guy who couldn’t make up his mind between two selections in the Parliamentary cafeteria. Plus, “boring” beats filthy. And even if you’re not one yourself, it’s like hanging out with smokers: Although you don’t smoke, your clothes are still going to reek. Which is why voters ultimately sent Paul for some “Martinizing.”

Given the established pattern, let’s have a look at some other upcoming races:

Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama vs. John Edwards for the Democratic nomination: Regardless of what one thinks about Clinton’s politics, if you have as many books written about you as she does, you can’t possibly qualify as boring. John Edwards, who was once a medical malpractice lawyer, reportedly channelled a dead person in court. While this may be fascinating, it’s also nutty. And there’s a fine line.

As for Obama, fellow Democrat Joe Biden described him as “clean.” and Bush gave him kudos for being “articulate.” Both terms are end-runs around “dullard.” Advantage: Hillary.

Stephen Harper vs. Stephane Dion in the next Canadian federal election: Dion is the white Obama: Boring. He’s also as single minded about trees as Al Gore, which adds an extra dash of tedium. Harper doesn’t even have to try — just maintain a pulse.

PUBLISHED:  TORONTO SUN (February 11/07)