Primary Survivors

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CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney comments on the primary process and the qualities of the election's likely survivor.

One of life's mysteries is what makes a person likeable. Some people are, some are not. The likeable ones have a quality that's appealing to all of us and it isn't possible to put your finger on what it is. As hard as politicians try, they can't be likeable by trying.

In the past some politicians were and others were not. Dwight Eisenhower was. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both had a knack for being liked.

Richard Nixon was in no way likeable.

Andy Rooney
People pretty much know where Al Gore and George W. Bush stand on basic issues. What they're looking for is charm. At least half the voters are ignorant of the issues. Fortunately, we're all dumb in different ways and democracy endures.

Neither Gore nor Bush is going to win this election; one of them is going to lose it. The winner will be the one who, for some mysterious reason, appears most likeable to the most people. Never mind the issues.

I have an idea for the future. Every four years, take the ten or 20 political contenders and put them all on a desert island in bathing suits.

This year, we would have had Steve Forbes, Ralph Nader, Bill Bradley, John McCain, Liddy Dole, Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer and Orrin Hatch. Bring out the camera crews and every week eliminate the one the others hated most. The penalty would be, he'd have to appear on all the morning television shows. The last person on the island wouldn't win a million dollars; he or she would be president of the United States.

It would make about as much sense as the primary system we have today.