Can you identify George Pataki? An actor on "Star Trek"? Nope, try again. That's right, he was once governor of New York. And now Pataki is running for president. And we can only ask: Why, George, why?
Pataki made it official Thursday in New Hampshire. He's seeking the Republican presidential nomination, boldly declaring, "It's time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this government," and a few other cliches already used by the mind-numbing number of GOP candidates in the race. Plus, of course, he joined the obligatory bashing of Democratic front-runner and fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton.
Pataki has about as much chance of being our next president as Lady Gaga. Pro-abortion rights and pro-gun control, Pataki is "a voice of moderation," says his loving wife, Libby, which sounds very mellow, but also guarantees getting trounced in the Republican primaries.
In an increasingly crowded GOP field in which no one has pulled away from the pack, a lesser-known candidate can convince himself that he has a shot. But a smart man like Pataki has to know deep down that he has no real chance.
So why does he run? Denial? Delusion? Ego?
Most likely for the same reason Donald Trump throws his hair into the ring every four years -- to promote his name brand. It's a surefire way for vaguely remembered politicians such as Pataki to get their mugs plastered all over the media. A declared candidate can tour the nation, making speeches and giving interviews, which leads to greater name recognition, higher speaking fees, more corporate board appointments and other moneymaking opportunities.
Look, it worked for Mike Huckabee, who parlayed a 2008 presidential run into a book deal and Fox News gig. Now they all want to be like Mike.
Five candidates are tied atop the Republican presidential polls with 10% of the vote each, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday. It's easy to fantasize that you're the guy (or gal, in Carly Fiorina's case) who'll get lucky. It's a win-win either way, right? But what about the gazillions wasted on the seemingly endless race? Hey, it's other people's money.
And politicians wonder why we're so cynical about them?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.com.