Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

What Happened to Good ol’ Arrogance?

By now, the routine is familiar.  Big name office holder leaves.  Big name office opens up.  A variety of characters of disparate seriousness crop up to announce they’re “thinking ” about running for the vacant spot.  The public goes back to watching “The Bachelorette.”

We saw this in action this week, when Governor Doyle announced he wouldn’t be seeking a third term.  Immediately, presumptive Democratic replacements began leaking their names to the press as possibilities to run.  Lieutenant Governor Barb Lawton.  Congressman Ron Kind.   Milwaukee Mayor (and amateur pugilist) Tom Barrett.  Even State Senator Jon Erpenbach jumped in the pool of Democratic possibilities.

Now is the time where politicians start throwing out my favorite phony campaign line – the famous “I’m running because a bunch of people are calling me to tell me to” schtick.

Take Ron Kind, who in his statement on Monday said:

Since Governor Doyle’s decision has become public, people from around the state have contacted me and urged me to run for Governor. I thank them for their support and I am considering it. In the weeks to come I will make my decision.

Erpenbach followed up by telling the Wisconsin State Journal that “he was being urged to consider a run for governor but would have to talk with his family and friends before deciding.”  Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan said he’s “heard from some people around the state,” encouraging him to consider a run.  Potential Republican hopeful Bill McCoshen said “”I’ve gotten a lot of calls in the last 24 hours, I’ll tell you that,” when commenting on his run.  GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he is being encouraged by supporters to run but, “as of today, his focus is on re-election.”

Somehow, this phony humility has crept into our politics – as if these guys are going to make their decision to run for the state’s highest office based on a couple people’s phone calls.  Why is it that candidates can’t just say “look, I think I have a lot of good ideas, and I’d like to see them affect as many people as possible?”  Do we really want someone running that plays the “I really didn’t want to run, but more than six people called me!” card?

Obviously, if you’re even thinking of running for governor, you believe you have something to offer. (Or in some cases, you are delusional.)  So why couch it in this bogus “depends on how many people call me” nonsense?  And do we really want a governor that makes big decisions based on whether a couple of sycophants that will probably benefit from his decision give him or her a call?

While nobody will ever confuse supermodels with Wisconsin candidates for governor, the same false humility applies in that profession.  Mark it down – any time someone asks a super hot model how she got into modeling, the answer is always something like “my aunt forced me to go to this magazine cover shoot tryout against my will,” or “I was always an ugly duckling, and somehow lucked into a modeling gig,” or some such nonsense.

You’ll never hear a model say “Well, one day I woke up, looked at myself in the mirror, and realized that the person staring back at me was incredibly hot, so I hired an agent, stopped eating, and hit the modeling circuit.”  While that would be honest, it violates some sort of basic level of self-effacing false humility that we require our celebrities to have.

I, for one, subscribe to the Frank Lloyd Wright school of false humility:

Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.

1 Comment

  1. I think it goes back to the tradition of George Washington. He was the only president who never sought the office and had to be drafted into accepting the presidency. The idea of “the office seeks the man” has taken hold of our politics since then, as if it makes it more honorable than saying, “I’m Geo F’ing Washington. Who else can lead this group of nutjobs?”

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