Monday, October 22, 2007

Has Alan Keyes "Jumped The Shark"?

Keyes criticism of "Values Voters Summit" sounds desperate, self-serving

On the old TV show “Happy Days,” the Fonz was the coolest guy around -- until an infamous episode just before the show’s cancellation which had the Fonz literally jumping a shark while water-skiing in his trademark leather jacket.

The scene was supposed to show that the Fonz remained cool in all circumstances. But the episode was so contrived, so preposterous, that even the uber-cool Fonz looked ridiculous. Since then, "jumping the shark" has come to symbolize anyone who gets caught trying to be cool, or -- more generally -- is desperately, and unsuccessfully, even pathetically, trying to remain relevant.

Such is a description of the current chapter in the political career of Alan Keyes.Keyes was a refreshing and credible voice in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections. But he’s become a gadfly and -- worse -- a whiner. He’s failed to make a credible showing in any race he’s ever entered, and he’s started blaming others for his inability to get traction.

Witness, for example, excerpts from a press release from the Keyes campaign, coming on the Monday after the Family Research Council's Washington Briefing. After berating each of candidates for some deficiency in their conservative, pro-life positions, Keyes then blasts the FRC:

“[The] FRC gave each of these candidates the use of its platform. It gave each of them a photo-op receiving a standing ovation from a crowd identified as strongly pro-life and supportive of the God-ordained natural family. [But the FRC] repeatedly refuse to invite one particular candidate: Dr. Alan Keyes. For decades, Dr. Keyes has boldly and courageously fought for everything the FRC claims to represent.

“The contradictions get worse," Keyes' whiny press release continues. "For weeks prior to the event — in advertising, and in the radio and television pronouncements of FRC leaders — FRC claimed that all the candidates in both parties were invited. This claim was patently false, since Dr. Keyes was excluded, and yet they refused to correct it even after its untruthfulness was pointed out to them repeatedly.

“Keyes staffers, seeing the claims that 'all' the candidates had been invited, even the Democrats, thought perhaps an invitation for Ambassador Keyes had been lost in the mail. It could happen. So, they contacted FRC organizers just to be sure there was no misunderstanding. To their surprise, no such misplaced invitation had ever been offered. And none was ever forthcoming. The explanation given was that the event had been planned for months, that Keyes had entered the race too late, and that no slot in the speaking schedule could possibly be found for him. A shocking claim, considering the fact that Fred Thompson entered the race barely a week before Keyes, that Rudy Giuliani confirmed his attendance only days prior to the event, and that both were given every consideration.”

Keyes’ campaign lands a few punches, but he and his campaign ignore one important point: one of the values of a presidential campaign is that it gives the American people a chance to see how a candidate operates as a manager and a leader. Is he an effective manager, or a bumbler?

Many decry the fact that political campaigning has become so expensive, but you could also say that it gives us a good chance to see how well organized a candidate is, and what his stamina and perseverance is.

Keyes has proven time and again that he is not presidential material. He's a smart guy with a lot of good ideas. He should write books and give speeches, not run for president.

Warren Cole Smith is the editor and publisher of "The Charlotte World" and the Evangelical Press News Service. He can be reached at


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