Now that would be the winning ticket: Popeye-Underdog
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.