Forget 'Humble Service'— Ego Prods Politicians to Run

Vanity, swag inspire presidential candidates: Frank Bruni
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2011 5:18 PM CDT
Frank Bruni: Presidential Candidates Inspired by Ego, Vanity, Swag, Not 'Humble Service'
Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann greets a supporter on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 in South Carolina.   (AP Photo/The Post And Courier, Grace Beahm)

Investment bankers admit to greed and actors confess their vanity, but "politicians feel compelled to perform an elaborate pantomime of unalloyed altruism," groans Frank Bruni in the New York Times. Michele Bachmann was called to run by God? Rick Perry by his wife? "Oh please," writes Bruni. "If people bought that, Congress’s approval rating wouldn’t have dipped last week to what I’m pretty sure are negative integers and you’d hear mention of Mitch McConnell and Mother Teresa in the same breath."

One look at Perry's love for swag (22 cowboy boots received free as Texas governor) or his inability to, as one person close to him notes, "pass a mirror without looking at it" reveal the perk-loving showman within. Yet the notion that "self-interest and self-satisfaction are nowhere in the equation of their ambitions" lives on. Democrats are just as bad—President Obama heard "destiny calling"—so all voters can do, writes Bruni, is "assume egotism" and check whether "a candidate’s apparent values and self-interest dovetail with our own." (Read more Michele Bachmann stories.)

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