Handicapping the Contenders

I have now sat through all of the GOP debates and have come to a few conclusions. First, they should not be called debates. They are actually Meet the Candidates events. As such, they serve a useful purpose. But they are not debates. If they were, Newt Gingrich would have the nomination sewn up by this time. Unfortunately for the former Speaker of the House, the ability to speak quickly and coherently on a number of issues isn’t enough.

I hasten to add that I happen to agree with Mr. Gingrich that he is the smartest man in politics. He probably has more good ideas in a day than some of the other contenders have had in their entire lives. For Gingrich, the tragedy is that he carries around more baggage than the average bellhop. It’s not just that he has a checkered personal past that involves wives and lovers. There was also that multi-million dollar book deal he made with Rupert Murdoch while he was still in Congress. Nothing wrong with a congressman looking to make a few extra dollars; the problem was that Gingrich chaired a committee whose responsibilities included determining ownership of media outlets, a matter of great concern to Mr. Murdoch. When the spam hit the fan, Gingrich grudgingly gave back the money.

But from my personal perspective, money remains far too important to the man. Otherwise, why does he send my wife letters begging for donations three or four times a week, and has done so for years, long before he threw his hat in the ring? And while it’s really none of my business how anyone elects to spend his own money, I must say I was flabbergasted when we learned that the man had somehow managed to run up a $500,000 tab at Tiffany’s. The question that pops to mind is whether President Gingrich would try to pass his own stimulus bill just to cover the cost of his wife’s jewelry.

If I could cobble together a dream candidate, he would have Romney’s looks, Cain’s charm, Santorum’s values, Bachmann’s decency, Gingrich’s grasp of the issues and Ron Paul’s passionate followers. Jon Huntsman’s problems are myriad, not the least of which is that he looks exactly like every villainous politician ever portrayed on “Law and Order” whose corruption begins but doesn’t end with his having a bunch of chippies on his office staff.

The good news for the GOP is that Barack Obama, the four trillion dollar man, is the most beatable Democrat since Jimmy Carter. The bad news for certain segments of the party is that Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Chris Christie, decided not to run. For some, the problem is that Tim Pawlenty tried but failed. For still others, the heartbreak of psoriasis is nothing compared to the fact that Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and Mr. Gingrich, haven’t managed to gain any traction, with the Iowa caucus looming right around the corner.

That leaves Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney, to duke it out. Of the three, I prefer Mr. Cain, even though I don’t believe his 9-9-9 (aka 9-0-9) plan would do much, if anything, to turn around the economy. I like him and I trust him and, of all the candidates, he’s the one with whom I could bear to spend time. That may not be the best reason for electing a president, but it’s a better reason than I usually have.

My problem with Governor Perry isn’t just that he appears terribly uncomfortable on the debate stage or that he doesn’t even speak as well as George W. Bush did. The reason I don’t believe he is presidential material is because his attacks on Romney reek of the schoolyard. I couldn’t believe it when he decided that by bringing up the old news that Romney once employed a landscaper who apparently once employed an illegal alien, he believed he had a gotcha moment that would send him soaring in the polls and straight into the White House.

Now I fully acknowledge that Romney wouldn’t be my favorite alternative to Obama, but at that moment, I felt as if I was looking at a man being attacked by a gnat and, at least in my mind, the governor’s last name changed forever from Perry to Petty.

What made the attack even more embarrassing is that the Texas governor has boots of clay. After all, he would not only have seen to it that the gardener’s kid received in-state tuition, but labeled any Republican who objected a heartless bigot.

I am willing to wager that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, and not just because he has the most money, the most professional organization and the best-looking family. I give the American voter more credit than that.

Instead, as I see it, he will be the last man standing because he’s taller than Perry and has more hair than Cain.

©2011 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write Burt! Click on the little envelope below to email this article.
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Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
Author website: http://www.burtprelutsky.com/
  • lost car keys

    I like the helpful information you supply to your articles. I will bookmark your blog and take a look at again right here frequently. I’m fairly certain I will learn lots of new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the next!

  • Drew Page

    Burt — From your responses to those who posted here your objection to Newt seems to be based on your opinion that he is too concerned about money and that he keeps asking your wife to send more of it to him. I submit that all politicians are interested in making money and lots of it. I get a more mail from the backers of Ron Paul asking for contributions that I get from all other candidates combined. You assume that there was a ‘quid pro quo’, that Gingrich would use his position to give Murdock what he wanted in exchange for a multi-million dollar book deal and apparently believe that Gingrich should be disqualified from consideration based on your assumption.

    I don’t recall any articles of yours talking about Obama’s preoccupation with making money from book deals while runniong for office and what benefits his publishers stood to gain.

  • Timothy

    You are full of it, Romney attacks Perry for five debates, in fact everyone does, but you never called that school yard. Its not ok for him to push back, right. Romney is a flip flopper, and you only say you like cain because you know you need him to help Romney by splitting the conservative vote, do you think we are dumb. You are vile, and you lie, but not even a good lie, just a pathetic lie.

    • Will Swoboda

      Hey Tim,
      Try the decaf, it might help.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Sunnyr: It’s not Perry’s lack of speaking skills that discredits him in my eyes; it’s the pettiness he’s shown in his attacks on Romney. Inspite of the cowboy boots, it’s made him look very small to me. Judging by the poll numbers, I’m not alone. And if you recall, I was pretty happy when he threw his Stetson into the ring.

    Shirl: One, Obama is not much of a debater, so it won’t require Newt Gingrich’s verbal prowess to best him. Keep in mind Obama will not have a Teleprompter around or Jay Carney to act as a translator, letting us know that “What the President meant to say was….”
    What Obama will have is 9% unemployment and a $15 trillion deficit. All the king’s horses and all of George Soros’s money will not be enough to put Humpty Dumpty back in the Oval Office again.

    Regards, Burt

  • Norbert Tanguay

    My pick is Newt for Pres. and Cain for VP.

    • Drew Page

      I agree. Newt is the most knowledgable of the Republican candidates and has the most experience in federal government and international affairs. He is articulate and can speak extemporaneously without the need of a teleprompter in a way that people can understand. I don’t give a hoot about his personal life, how many wives or girl friends he had, or how much of his own money he spends on them. When it comes to government, I believe he can lead this country back to full employment by creating a revised tax system and a revamped government regulatory system that keeps important regulations and regulatory agencies and rids that system of needless and wasteful regulations that impede the growth of business.

  • Shirl

    Burt, I still think Newt would be the most likely not to be chewed up and spit out by the current occupant of the wh so who ever wins the nomination should be well prepared for war because as we all know BHO will lie, cheat, steal and anything else he can think of to win re-election. We definately need someone with nerves of steel and well versed on the issues of the day.

  • Sunnyr

    Is it just me or does anyone else not give a flying fig is Governor Perry is not the Captain of the College Debating Team? I want a proven LEADER. Rick Perry has an outstanding record as a 3 Term Governor and what I know about Texans is they will boot your sorry butt out of office unless you are good at what you do. Perry has passed their test.

    He may not be a Master Debater but he did earn the rank of CAPTAIN in the U S Air Force where he served our country as a Pilot who flew tactical aircraft around the globe during his 5 years of duty. He is my candidate and his great Flat Tax Plan is the frosting on the cake. It has received a solid B+ grade from the Cato Institute.

    Perry – 2012 A REAL Leader and a REAL Commander in Chief. What’s not to love?

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Bill: I agree that debating skills don’t prove one way or another if a person would be a good president. However, they do give us an idea about temperament. So far, Pawlenty, Santorum and especially Perry have proven to my satisfaction that they don’t have the proper mental/emotional equilibrium to be commander-in-chief.

    Jeannette and Blakeley: As with most Republican office holders in the northeast, Christie, is only slightly less liberal than Nancy Pelosi. As for the money spent on jewelry by Gingrich, you’re right, Blakely, it is nobody’s business. But together with the fact that he cut a sleazy deal with Rupert Murdoch, whose activities he was supposed to be monitoring, suggests that Newt cares way too much about money.

    Cordelia: I beg to differ. Ron Paul has far more passionate disciples than Herman Cain. But I don’t think it’s a good thing for people to be too passionate about political figures. They should spend their emotional capital on their spouses, their kids and their dogs. As I see it, one should be cool, calm and collected, when it comes to office seekers.

    Robin: You are right. It aggravates me no end when readers can’t keep it straight if they’re reading me or my friend, Mr. Goldberg. It’s particularly galling when they’re complimentary because it makes me tend to discount their opinions. After all, if they can’t even figure out a byline, how smart can they be?

    Regards, Burt

    • Sunnyr

      Burt, Burt, Burt! I have always LOVED your columns but you have jumped the shark on this one. Rick Perry has an 11 year record as a very fine Governor of our 2nd largest state. He is not a good Debater, granted, but I had rather he be a really good LEADER who knows the right policies to bring JOBS and prosperity back to this country. He has done it in Texas and will do it for the nation. Mark my words.

      Perry for President – 2012

  • Bill Hurdle

    I realize that Rick Perry’s position on illegal immigrants has left many people with a strong aversion and for many others it is a litmus test failed – myself included. I do find however that there is too much emphasis on his perceived poor “debate” performances. My question is if there is any correlation of debating ability with the qualities/characteristics needed to be POTUS? I personally think the answer is a resounding “no” since it is my belief that a President should reach carefully considered decisions with visceral reactions as seen on the “debate” stage relegated to initial assesments.

  • Jeannette

    Why isn’t it possible to have the three major runners (C, P and R, alphabetically) twirl around together so long and so rapidly that they become an amalgam? Am I the only one dreaming that impossible dream?

    For reasons of which I am now unsure, I was hoping that C.C. would jump in and displace all the rest of them; sadly that was not to be. It would have been fun watching the massacre in November 2012. I haven’t seen a really good massacre in years. But it could yet happen. One can hope.

    • Sunnyr

      I am thinking we dodged a bullet when “CC” decided not to run. This man is no Conservative. He believes in Cap and Trade, Gun Control, Abortion, and he veto’d a Bill that would give parental notification to parents of teenaged girls who wanted abortions. He is a RINO. And a very rude, obnoxious Bully with a chip on his shoulder.

      No thank you. I hope he never makes it to the WH. He would be a disaster.

  • cordelia crockett

    Cain has the most passionate followers, and their numbers are increasing daily.

    The powers that be, on the left and right will not choose the candidate this time.

    Herman Cain is THE man of the times! Cain will trounce Obummer.

  • robin in fl

    Great as usual Burt,but before I say anything else I’ve just got to ask..do you ever get tired of having to keep saying you are NOT Bernie G??? every time I see someone call you Bernie or MR Goldberg I have to laugh. :)

    Yes,Cain would be my choice hands down.i am getting really sick of the media telling me and everyone else he can’t win and doesn’t stand a chance as if they own our brains.

    Newt. WAY too much baggage like you said. I like how he tries to stop the attacks but just can’t get past the albatross that hangs around his neck.

    Romney of course is choice # 2 if all else fails.

    and UGH Perry,well he came ,I listened with an open mind and what I saw and heard said to me NO WAY,NO HOW….and now I hear he wants to back out of some of the debates, I mean he showed up late for them now because he is terrible at them he wants to sit some out..WOW!..what a spoiled brat he is .And as if the “we are heartless with illegals kids” thing he threw out there and his petty attacks on everyone wasn’t enough ,when he was on some show saying a person can’t change at 50 or 60 years old with an opinion ,well that was about the dumbest thing I have heard come out of him yet. I mean I went from a Democrat to a Republican at 50 after Obama was elected, so this guy is trying to tell me I should go back to my old ways of thinking because I was too old to change my opinion .talk about alienating people . :(

    • Sunnyr

      Rick Perry is making a good political move in CHOOSING which Debates he will participate in since the Primary’s have moved up to January. His best venue is one on one, shaking hands and giving GREAT speeches (without a teleprompter) on his policies and his Flat Tax Plan, which has been well accepted, with a “Solid B+ Grade.”
      Perry’s Plan makes 9-9-9 look like what it is, a European Socialist-style VAT TAX Plan that starts out low (9%) and ends up like many European cities with a 25% or higher sales tax rate. It will never get by Congress because it it punitive on lower income people and Seniors on SS, many of whom live in States without a Sales Tax.

      Perry’s Plan allows a family of 4 to exempt the first $50,000. of their income PLUS it allows them to keep their Mortgage and Charitable deductions. It’s a WINNER.

      Perry for President – 2012!

  • Blakely1

    I would rather have a candidate, who could handle
    the opposition & the leaders of the world than one who fits the politically correct standard.
    We know what Christie would say about spending money on jewelry. It is none of anyone’s business.
    Republicans allow Democrats to put them on the defensive,instead of blowing it off the way they do.Neut or Trump are our best bets.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Gena: Newt has the right to spend his money however he wishes. I have the right to ask him to stop filling our mailbox with his constant stream of donation requests. Also, Paul’s threats to run as an Independent if he doesn’t win the nomination, which would be the one way Obama could win re-election, should be enough to get him bounced from the GOP.

    Professor: Mr. Goldberg didn’t write this piece.

    Talers: Yes, myriad. Huntsman keeps talking about his experience as governor of Utah, as if that in any way prepares him to be president. Utah is a small state filled with hard-working, well-educated Mormons. If the United States had 300 million such people, even I could be president. The fact that he has been in all the debates and is still favored by no more than 1% of the voters in any of the early primary states tells me all I need to know about his chances to garner the nomination. If he had any judgment, he would have bowed out so he wouldn’t be taking time away from any of the candidates who at least has a chance of becoming the GOP presidential candidate.

    Bill: Newt wasn’t found innocent of any wrong-doing. When the facts came out, he gave back the money. But the wrong-doing was the deal, itself. There’s no way he would have been offered several million dollars for a three-book deal at the time except that Rupert Murdoch was looking to exert influence on the committee chairman overseeing media licenses.

    To those of you who had nice things to say about the article, thank you all.

    Regards, Burt

    • talers

      Well, at least that’s a more reasonable argument — much better than starting a rumor about Huntsman staffing promiscuous young ladies (which teeters on libel).

      As you agree that Newt behaved unethically by taking bribe money from Murdoch, how can you justify saying that you “trust” him?

      So, what do you think about Buddy Roemer?

  • Bill Coffey SR.

    One by one they will disappear and as they do the persons standing will pick up the support of those falling. Each of the constitutional conservatives standing will gain the support of the constitutional conservative falling. How many of Rick Santorum’s supporters will Romney pick up? Or Ron Paul’s, Rick Perry’s, Michelle Bachmann’s, Herman Cain’s or Newt’s? I predict that Newt and Cain along with Romney will be the last standing. If Romney has 30 % the other two will be splitting 70%. All of a sudden Newt looks possible. PS: wasn’t Newt eventually found innocent of any wrong doing on that book deal?

  • phlymgrym

    Burt, enjoyed your political analysis and good humor as usual. Always look forward to your view of things!

  • Norm

    Whoever the nominee is, he’d be wise to avail himself of the council of Messrs Gingrich, Cain and, perhaps, Paul.
    Barack did nothing more than appoint “Yes Men” that would nod their heads in agreement with everything he/Obama espoused. Not one sycophant to tell the Pres. “Hey, This is Wrong On So Many Levels.”
    Big Mistake!
    Great job as usual, Burt.

  • LarryInIowa

    Cain has no experience as an elected official, neither did Dwight Eisenhower. But, like Eisenhower, Cain is smart enough to realize he is not an expert on everything, choose good people and then listen to them. Obama thinks he is always the smartest and most talented guy in the room and knows more about everything than even the experts in their fields.

    Imagine a Cain/Newt administration.

    • Sunnyr

      No thanks! I’ll stick with a PROVEN Leader, Rick Perry!

  • Florida Jim

    Amen, Newt has the best ideas, the most knowledge, is most articulate and will embarrass Obama in a head-to-head debate yet hi spast haunts him and the lamestream media will crucify him-what a sad commentary on America.

  • Fred Pasek

    This article beautifuly illustrates how the Republican party is becoming the Democratic party. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s clear to me that Speaker Gingrich and Congressman Paul have the best grasp of the issues and they would be the most formidable strategists in the White House in jousting with the Democrats. But because one is seen as an isolationist because he doesn’t believe in policing the world, and the other has personal issues and dares to like money overtly, the Republicans will select either Governor Romney, who is precisely the kind of big spender and government overreaching executive that the Republicans supposedly detest. Or they’ll select Herman Cain, who has no experience, something the Republicans railed against when they spoke of Obama (who actually had more experience that Mr. Cain). They’ll look past the fact the Mr. Cain didn’t devise the 9-9-9 plan himself, and appears to have problems explaining it in the debates. They’ll look past the fact that Mr. Cain supports TARP and praises Alan Greenspan, someone the Republicans supposedly blame in large part for the financial collapse of 2008 that sent Republicans into exile. Or they’ll select Rick Perry, who debates using the same tactics my sister and I used when we were in grade school.

    Looking at the prospect of the last three Republican nominees being George Bush: a man who passed unfunded Plan D, who waged two unfunded wars, who passed TARP. John McCain, a feeble minded old fool who should really be considered a blue dog Democrat. And Mitt Romney. I have to ask, why would conservatives continue to support the party? For the “lesser of two evils”? Well, the lesser of two evils is racking up debt, same as the Democrats, and will some day bring this country to its knees. We need to make a stand. We can’t pick a guy just because he looks Presidential and we think he has a chance to win the general election, if that guy is going to spend like a liberal and screw up the economy even more, so that the Democrats have a case when they say that the Republicans are bad for the economy. I trust Paul and Gingrich to run things, to make things better in this country. I can’t say the same for the others. (Maybe Bachmann, but I think she needs seasoning.)

    • Sunnyr

      I can never vote for Herman Cain because he is not the “outsider” he claims to be. He was a Washington Lobbyist for the Tobacco, Liquor and Restaurant industries who actually lobbied AGAINST Smoke Free Restaurants. This has been one of the few things our incompetent Congress has done in recent years that is GOOD for America. I am not a Nanny Stater, but I do enjoy taking my children out for breakfast and not being choked on second-hand smoke. No thanks to Mr. Herman Cain.

      And I am growing weary of his constant excuses for his gaffes: “My words were taken out of context.” “They misconstrued my words.” etc. No, Herman. We heard what you said! There is VIDEO of you saying it! No more lame excuses. You are playing in the Major League now. Perry caught holy heck for saying stupid things and now you should also be willing to take the flak. Just sayin’.

  • Roadmaster

    Yep, that pretty much sez it all, Bert. I’ve settled on Cain also, being a long time fan. I liked Romney against MuhCain, but he seems a bit too “oily” this year. Besides that, Obama is going to love painting him as a flip-flopper and it will stick. That’s what happens to “moderates” who shuck their principles trying to pander to as wide a swath of voters as possible. Reagan convinced people to change their minds to his way of thinking because he was solid in his beliefs. Cain is solidifying his support and message, but the dhimmicrat-media cabal is already gunning for him daily. I like how he responds to them in much the same manner as the Gipper did. We’ll see whether “they” can chose our candidate this time around. The electorate is pretty stirred up.

  • talers

    What a bunch of dribble. You claim Jon Huntsman’s problems are “myriad”, but you don’t list any of them except that he LOOKS “exactly like every villainous politician ever portrayed on ‘Law and Order’ whose corruption begins but doesn’t end with his having a bunch of chippies on his office staff.” WTF, Burt? Promiscuous young ladies? Do you really want to go there?

    Have you followed any candidate NOT in the debates? Such as Buddy Roemer, for example?

  • Professor

    I agree with Mr. Goldberg regarding these debates, which is why they haven’t been worth watching. Newt Gingrich is the sole exception within this field of lesser intellects. Mr. Gingrich has an earned PhD in History, one of the classic disciplines with substance. Unlike the bevy of ‘doctors’ being minted today by establishments such as ABC Bean-Counting Academy to those that turn out education Ed.D.’s who couldn’t teach a pig to love mud, Gingrich is a man of substance who has the wherewithal to lead. He’s learned the lessons of history because he respects the past, unlike the Obamaites, who despise wisdom in order to embrace a utopian fantasy. I would and will (if given the chance) vote for Newt Gingrich, despite the sins of his checkered past. If there is one lesson history teaches, it is that men do change, but not on their own. Any man or woman who embraces without holding back the God of Abraham and the Father of Jesus the Christ, that one has embraced at the same time a good future and a happy end. I would much rather have a real sinner saved by grace as my president, than any one else who constantly touts his and her credentials as a believer in order to be seen by others. There is a lesson here somewhere. Let those with eyes to see and ears to hear understand and take note.

  • therealguyfaux

    Rick Perry is an example of the Peter Principle (now I’m dating myself!) that everyone will eventually rise past their level of competence unless acted upon by an outside force or they develop a realistic self-assessment. That Clownie Boy is actually running and that some people supported his getting into the race tells you more about dislike of Romney than anything else. Herman Cain is the modern equivalent of the tax reformer Henry George running for mayor of New York City in 1886; George’s attitude was, I won’t win, Tammany will see to that, but I’ll have a lot of fun upsetting applecarts along the way. Paul too. Bachmann– too religiosa for me and a lot of people. Gingrich is a Republican version of Teddy Kennedy– a much more brilliant version to be sure, but one in the sense of a true commitment to the cause being overshadowed by personal baggage. Huntsman has failed to distinguish himself in any respect from his lookalike, sportscaster Colin Cowherd– Cowherd could show up with his hair dyed gray and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Which leaves us Willard M. Romney, who is the non-sociopathic and somewhat more conservative version of John Edwards; Mitt is that example of Churchill’s democracy, worst possible thing except for all others.

    • Sunnyr

      Excuse me, but did you ever pass a stringent test in Aerodynamics and Physics as Rick Perry did when he got his Pilot’s Wings in the U S Air Force? Your Peter Principle theory is bogus. Rick Perry has miles to go before he reaches that point. He plays classical Piano, Beethoven. Do you? He was an Eagle Scout as a very young man. Were you? And he was elected 3 times by the people of Texas to be their Leader. Not bad for someone who has reached their level of “incompetence” as you attest.

      Go Rick Perry – 2012 A REAL Leader with a record of achievement!

  • Lonesome George

    I have my clothes pin ready for next November when I vote for the Rebublican candidate. Just like I did when I voted for McCain.

  • Joseph Maloney

    Look no further than The “Stupid Committee” of 12. This was agreed to by the establishment of both parties of Congress. This gave them the room to now talk of how the DOD shouldn’t be singled out for budget cuts. The “triggers” can’t hear You!
    We need a real outsider, because politics as usual is destroying our country!

  • Gena Taylor

    Hate to say it, because it is a somewhat negative article, but I have to admit, I agree with you as usual. With the Republican party’s best chance to win the presidency since Carter, we do not have the best candidates in the running. Romney reminds me of a used car salesman, Perry is so arrogant as to be offensive, Cain is cool, seems to be a nice man, but has NO political experience, and we should have learned with Obama, you don’t want a person running the country learning the job OJT. I like the Newt, but unless he has had what I think is referred to as a “Come to Jesus” awakening, don’t really feel he can be trusted, although I sure would love to take one of his classes at whichever university he teaches at, bet he is a damn good teacher, and I love history classes with a good teacher. Huntsman and Paul are basically a joke, a distraction in these debates because they don’t have an iceberg’s chance in Hell of winning anything but straw polls.

  • samantha

    loving it.wow,i didn’t knw Gingrich’ past,now i knw why he isnt higher on da polls….Cain shud at least b vice president.

    • Gena Taylor

      I sure wish I had $500,000 to spend on anything, cannot imagine how a person could run up a bill like that in one jewelry store. Hope she bought a lot of good gold jewelry, might need the gold when our dollar becomes worthless. But if they have the money to buy that sort of stuff,they sure have the right to spend it however they wish. And it really is nobody else’s business.