And here's your trophy for showing up.
This Mark Halperin political "analysis" of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's coming out announcement depresses me very, very much
The only way that works out to a "B" is, of course, if you're counting Style considerably more than Substance. Fear not, though, because the charitable "B" grade here takes into account other, equally important factors.
Note: The overall grade is not an average of the style and substance grades, but takes into account other aspects of the announcement as well, such as staging and crowd reaction. In addition, a candidate’s overall grade reflects the degree to which the candidate’s standing in the race is improved by the event and performance.
In other words, we're just engaging in all of this as the White House Correspondents Dinner version of beer pong. Or as the "talent" competition in a Donald Trump-sponsored beauty pageant. Or—sigh, never mind. Then there's the legitimate question of whether Ben Carson has enough presidential substance to manage a passing grade in any universe.
Spoke in the vaguest of generalities when describing America’s current problems, and offered even fewer specifics about how to deal with [take your pick.]
This is charity speak for Had Nothing To Say. I would hope anyone standing on any stage asking for any political job would be able to wrap themselves in a flag and rattle off a few platitudes about how wondrous America was. Offering no substance, however, means no substance. If we're giving Carson a passing grade for being able to tie his patriotic shoelaces together without stumbling into the audience, we have set the "political substance" bar rather low these days.
I suppose what makes this all so wearying, a full year and then some before the party conventions roll around, is that by these metrics any reasonably skilled junior high school essay contest winner ought to be able to pull off a B-level presidential campaign announcement. Empty platitudes about solving Various Problems via Resolve because Freedom? Check. Neat attire? Not a problem. Crowd reaction? Fill the room with family members and supporters and you could get a standing ovation for making a cheese sandwich.
So it just makes me sad. I don't know why. No—I do know why. Because judging the style and staging and crowd reaction on things is exactly what most of our political press infrastructure considers to be the critical elements of campaign coverage. Does the candidate have the slightest idea how to address national issues? Would you trust the candidate to command the most powerful military on the planet in a non-bumbling fashion? Is the candidate a flagrant liar, or an obvious charlatan whose stated beliefs and policies shift according to audience or who refuses to state policy positions at all? Doesn't matter. The staging was nice.