Ronald Reagan ... Harry Truman ... John F. Kennedy ... Popeye the Sailor Man.
Mitt Romney positively cited only the first three from that list of luminaries during his nomination-acceptance speech Thursday night.
But he invoked that fourth figure last Sunday, telling Fox News: “Remember that Popeye line — ‘I am what I am and that’s all what I am.’ ”
OK, so Romney should have said, “I yam what I am ...”
And he should have capped Thursday night’s convention finale in Tampa with: “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”
But if you still haven’t warmed up to Romney, ponder his admirable affinity for that spunky seafarer — the quintessential 20th century American hero whose sterling examples include: personal nutrition (“I’m strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach), repeated refusals to back down from Bluto’s aggressions, gallant Naval service in World War II and relentless attempts to win ever-fickle Olive Oyl’s heart.
And while lamenting our lack of a President Popeye option, ponder what these catch phrases — and the cartoon characters they epitomize — would bring to a White House race:
“Yabba-Dabba-Do!”Fred Flintsone: Infectious enthusiasm and everyman charm could help bridge deep bipartisan divides. But as a member of the Quarry Workers’ Union, he probably opposes right-to-work laws.
“Jane, stop this crazy thing!”George Jetson: Apt plea to halt the rapid rise of our record national debt, which will soon hit $16 trillion.
“Oh, you wascally wabbit!”Elmer Fudd: Panders to hunters’ zeal for preserving their Second Amendment right to bear assault weapons, hand grenades and rocket launchers.
“What’s up, Doc?”Bugs Bunny: Could elicit more expert input from physicians as we struggle to find an antidote for the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.
“Hey, hey, hey!”Fat Albert: Appeals to our better natures by accentuating the positive.
“I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today,”Wimpy: Reflects the reckless mindset behind the rampant deficit spending that is accelerating us toward a fiscal train wreck.
“You’re dethpicable!”Daffy Duck: Echoes the petulant name-calling tone that increasingly poisons political discourse.
“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” Underdog: Inspires the masses’ confidence, a la FDR’s epic “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
“Beep, beep,” Roadrunner: Succinct refrain from a consistent winner known for scant talk and rapid action.
“Sufferin’ succotash!”Sylvester the Cat: Expression of frustration strikes a chord with folks fed up with the failures of both parties to keep their promises.
“I tawt I thaw a puddycat,”Tweety Bird: Exemplifies widespread realization of ephemeral, lurking menaces at home and abroad.
“Hokie smokes!” Rocket J. Squirrel: Justified exclamation at the dire nature of our economic plight.
“Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat,”Bullwinkle J. Moose: Sounds like politicians — from both parties — who preposterously propose easy solutions to difficult problems.
“I hates varmints!” Yosemite Sam: Symbolizes the divisive politics of demonization.
“Don’t have a cow, man!”Bart Simpson: Reminds us that things could be worse.
“Here I come to save the day!” Mighty Mouse: Reassures voters that help is on the way.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”Woody Woodpecker: A grand, one-size-fits-all debate comeback line when your opponent confuses you with the facts.
“Cowabunga, dude!”Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: More contagious optimism, a la Fat Albert and Hubert Humphrey.
“Sharrup you mouth!” Boris Badenov: Another know-nothing debate rejoinder.
“Oh, barnacles!”Spongebob Squarepants: Another frustration proclamation.
“I’m smarter than the average bear,” Yogi Bear: All-too-familiar boast from politicians who forget that telling us how smart they are isn’t smart.
“You eediot!”Ren of “Ren and Stimpy”: Another blunt debate putdown designed to avert the need for serious discussion of complex issues.
“Uh, hey baby,”Butt-head (of “Beavis and Butt-head”): A crude appeal for the women’s vote.
And lest you take offense at the notion of a Popeye-Underdog dream ticket, or at the unseemly — and unsettling — realities of American politics, focus on this closing caveat:
“That’s a joke, son,”Foghorn Leghorn.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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