Vivek Ramaswamy Has A Problem He Can’t Hide: “Charisma, energy, and one-liners are great. But ultimately, there is something arrogant and maybe even a little smarmy about Vivek.”
Vivek Ramaswamy: Just A Fad?
Vivek Ramaswamy’s moment will fizzle fast. We’ve seen this before.
He thinks he’ll be the next Donald Trump, in case Trump for reasons legal or otherwise, exits the race. He won’t be. He thinks Trump might make him his running mate. He won’t.
Don’t get me wrong. Ramaswamy definitely has some incredible political skills that most politicians could only dream of having. And the background is pretty darn impressive as a 38-year-old entrepreneur who struck it rich.
For most Americans, the Fox News debate was their first look at him, and he definitely stood out–looking as though he were the frontrunner by drawing so many attacks. He invited attacks. by starting the debate accusing every other Republican on the stage of being on the take. He knew what he was doing. The debate rules allow a candidate who is attacked to respond. So, he had plenty of response time.
These are all good, smart political instincts at a time when voters are drawn to an outsider or anti-establishment figure. He also deserves credit for being willing to walk into any forum for interviews with even the most hostile media, and usually comes out on top. It was admittedly quite fun watching him bury MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
Before the debate, he was neck-and-neck with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or even passed him in some polls.
But after what seemed like a smashing debate performance, he dropped in the polls. A post-debate Morning Consult poll showed his unfavorability numbers jumped by 5 points, and favorability dropped by 2 points. Meanwhile, the percentage who felt he was the most electable candidate against President Joe Biden fell by 4 points.
So, what’s up? Obviously not Vivek. But why?
Charisma, energy, and one-liners are great. But ultimately, there is something arrogant and maybe even a little smarmy about Vivek.
Let me preface by saying Eminem is more ridiculous in demanding Vivek stop using his rap. But what the heck was Vivek doing rapping on the campaign trail in the first place? He thought his homies in Iowa would think him cool?
If anything, Eminem’s legal threats seem so petulant that it offered a welcome distraction of Big Entertainment crashing the party for the fun-loving Vivek.
There’s also Vivek’s rags to riches claims that were just preposterous. It was an unnecessary fabrication. His record of business success at a young age is admirable. He doesn’t have to buttress it with tales of walking uphill both ways.
It’s not at all clear what he thought 9/11 trutherism–once a staple in the Democratic Party–would earn him in a Republican primary.
Then there’s what he wrote about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot in his 2022 book, “Nation of Victims.”
“It was a dark day for democracy. The loser of the last election refused to concede the race, claimed the election was stolen, raised hundreds of millions of dollars from loyal supporters, and is considering running for executive office again,” the book says. “I’m referring, of course, to Donald Trump.”
Yet, in an NBC News interview, he claimed that if he had been in Vice President Mike Pence’s role as president of the Senate, he would have certified Joe Biden’s 2020 victory but only after Congress passed election integrity reforms. But a vice president has no authority to push legislation through Congress, nor would he have the political leverage. It’s not even clear a disgruntled Trump would have signed such a bill before leaving office.
Vivek Needs To Study GOP History
There is a solid history of candidates catching fire, having a big moment in the race–even being frontrunners–then having a catastrophic collapse.
Keep in mind that Kamala Harris was deemed the big winner in the first Democratic debate in 2019–mainly for calling Joe Biden a racist. A CNN headline said, “‘That little girl was me’: Harris’ attack on Joe Biden steals spotlight at Democratic primary debate.” But Harris couldn’t withstand the heat of the spotlight and dropped out before voting started. I guess it worked out OK in the end for the current vice president.
Herman Cain was another example of a one-time frontrunner for the 2012 GOP nomination. Sure, there was a scandal. But his campaign would have eventually self-destructed.
Howard Dean was the leading candidate to be the 2004 Democratic Party standard bearer until it was time for primary voters to vote.
These were all either political outsiders or at least anti-establishment politicians, and let voters burn off some steam.
But Trump, you say, broke through. So why can’t Vivek? Particularly if for some reason, Trump quits the race.
Of course, Trump’s 2016 victory stands as a historical phenomenon. But it’s simply impossible to compare other candidates to him.
Trump’s outsider magic worked because he was such a massive household name and celebrity that is unparalleled by anyone else who jumped into politics. He was the host of The Apprentice on NBC for more than a decade. Before that he was in Home Alone 2 and regularly showed up on pro wrestling TV shows to solidify the redneck vote.
Vivek has none of those things. To the extent he was known before running for president, it was largely from the conservative media, which is probably where he belongs. He’s a great talker and my guess is that that’s probably where this presidential campaign will lead him–potentially a highly rated talk show.
If Trump is re-elected in 2024, he might even give an interview for the Vivek Show, which is probably as close as the young dynamo will come to being in the Oval Office.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie.
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