116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Say it quickly before he or she disappears from your paper: Ben Sasse for president. (Don’t be vulgar.) Try Kristi Noem. You know her record as governor of North Dakota. Or pick someone from another dozen or so mentioned by the Great Mentioner. Other Republicans I’ve read about as they visit caucus states: Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Asa Hutchinson, Larry Hogan, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, Chris Sununu, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump, Jr.
Get ready for a stampede. If Donald Trump were to announce that he won’t run because of some New York reason, a dozen, maybe more, other folks will apply for the job before daybreak the following morning. Some, well, at least one or two, of those panting candidates would be an acceptable president, and are honest, decent, reasonably wise, despite being Republican. But even in a more normal time, pre-Trump, when some people climbed out of bed and headed to the bathroom, they saw a mirror image of a president, qualified in their own eyes. Running for president is more a compulsion than a calling. We could see it on the Democratic debate stage last time, and it flourishes in the Republican shadows now.
Keep their names in mind. Many will run again and again. My only explanation is that some people are born convinced they should be president of the United States. They may keep It a secret until they can talk, but it never goes away when they can. Some of those people become doctors, or lawyers, or plumbers or Uber drivers, and many overcome their dreams and delusions. Some of them do also become excellent public servants, governors, or senators of distinction. That’s when their prenatal, chronic feelings return.
I once shook hands with Harold Stassen, a good governor of Minnesota and a fine president of the University of Pennsylvania. In his political career, Stassen was elected governor of Minnesota three times, in 1938, 1940, and 1942. He ran for the Republican nomination for President in 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1964, 1968, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992. He never became the Republican nominee, but apparently thought it might still happen the next time He was 85 when he gave it up.
Sen. Eugene McCarthy, a Democrat for whom I briefly worked, was a hero to many for his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a pretty good poet and a charismatic candidate. He ran five times and never came close.
My boss, an eminently accomplished public servant, Hubert Humphrey, ran three times, the last one beyond his time and any chance to be nominated. He deserved to be president, but his time had passed and his persistence was no way to end an exemplary career.
I understand that being president means the history books and a presidential library. I understand the need for an open political society where anyone who wants should be able to run, but think the present system is chaotic, filled with irrelevant candidates.
Party bosses of old are gone, but maybe the 50 state party chairmen could cut the field to four before final debates and the convention. Harold Stassen is no longer living.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary.