You see them haunting television commercials, old-time stars now hawking all sorts of stuff to make themselves some money and seem relevant.
Here’s Shaquille O’Neal peddling medical products, as if we’d ever ask Shaq for advice about anything except how to dunk a basketball.
There’s country crooner Kenny Rogers with yet another tired rendition of “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” (Kenny, now would be a great time to fold ’em and ride off into the sunset.)
And see former U.S. senator and world’s stiffest actor Fred Thompson touting the advantages of reverse mortgages to senior citizens, the only people who have the slightest idea who he is.
Maybe Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush look at these commercials and vow, “That will never be me. That’s why I have to run for president. I’m still relevant.”
Sorry, but I’d rather see them in late-night TV commercial land than in the 2016 race for the White House.
Don’t get me wrong: Both did a lot of good.
Clinton inspired many women and fought for many good causes. Bush was excellent at rushing aid to communities hit by a wave of hurricanes that devastated much of Florida. He also exposed the shame that was the education lacking in many public schools.
But I for one need a break from the Bush/Clinton legacies and all the tangled webs they bring.
Give us a fresh start, a presidential candidate who will not pretend to be one of the common folk, as Hillary painfully tries to do, or kowtow to the hard right-wingers as Jeb so often did in office.
Maybe Clinton and Bush learned from their mistakes, but after all these years you have to wonder if old pols can grow new backbones.
Not that it’s easy to find appealing new candidates out there. Florida’s Democratic Party has such a weak supply of candidates that it had to welcome Charlie Crist, who had trouble rallying even the Anybody-But-Rick-Scott crowd in last year’s election for governor.
On the national level, neither party has yet discovered a star for 2016.
Wackos Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum are cult candidates, and our own Sen. Marco Rubio thinks he’s still in 1969 Miami, with his denunciations of the Cuba diplomatic opening. And how about Rubio, champion of unconservative compassion, criticizing Pope Francis, one old white guy that young people admire?
My wish for 2015 is for Jeb and Hillary to stay on the sidelines, offering advice gleaned from their years in the limelight.
They should be recruiting a new generation of leaders, people who can learn from the many Clinton and Bush mistakes, and cherry-pick the wisdom both have to offer.
That’s the best way for Clinton and Bush to serve the country now.
Mark O’Brien is a writer in Pensacola. Column courtesy of Context Florida.