Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chuck Grassley for president?

In talking on the phone with Iowa State University professor and WOI Radio “Dr. Politics” host Steffen Schmidt I couldn’t see if he was maintaining a straight face when he put forward this idea: U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, as a presidential candidate.

Schmidt, who has been in Ames for four decades as a political science professor, assured me he was serious, that his face was in fact straight, that he was basing his comments on conversations with people inside the Republican Party.

“It’s not a throwaway, B.S., or a joke or anything,” Schmidt said.

The GOP, Schmidt said, is in need of an “adult” who can speak for the party without embarrassing it — as former potential presidential candidates Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., have done in recent weeks.

Grassley fits that political adult bill, plus he has a workmanlike reputation on both sides of the aisle, says Schmidt.

And while party leaders may be concerned about Grassley’s charisma factor on a national stage and age (he is 75 and first served in the Iowa House when Dwight Eisenhower was president) he’ll be a steady, Midwestern voice, goes the line of reasoning.

“They know he’s never flown to Argentina,” Schmidt said in a reference to the embarrassing saga involving Sanford and his Argentine lover.

Of course, being relegated to defining a candidate or a party by what it is not, rather than what it is, raises troubling questions.

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