The Republican presidential primary season is upon us, and just as Aesop said a man is known by the company he keeps, politicians running for office are known by the endorsements they receive. And with pop singer Barry Manilow showing support for Rep. Ron Paul the other day, the "intellectual godfather" of the Tea Party's campaign may have seen its coffin finally nailed shut by the man who brought us the treacly "Mandy" and "Can't Smile Without You."
Manilow was on Capitol Hill Thursday, speaking at a briefing on atrial fibrillation, a heart disease that he has fought for over fifteen years. The sixty-eight-year-old Manilow was there to encourage lawmakers to support H.R. 295, a bill that would advance AFib research and education. Afterwards, asked about contributions he had made to Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2007, he told The Daily Caller, "I like him. I like what he says, I do. I like what he says. I think he's solid. I agree with just about everything he says. What can I tell you?"
The Manilow endorsement is bad enough, although a victory party at the newly-reopened Copacabana nightclub would have been something to see. But at least Manilow didn't compose any jingles about Austrian-school economics or eliminating the Federal Reserve System.
The phenomenon of celebrity endorsements of politicians goes back to the 1920 presidential campaign of Warren Harding, when the likes of Al Jolson, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford got behind the old stinker. Later, various "Rat Pack" members would endorse JFK, the kind of anti-Manilow cool you want associated with yourself. Then, a few years down the road, Frank Sinatra would flip and endorse Reagan. But the biggest celebrity endorsement ever would have to be Oprah's backing of Obama in 2007, which had an empirically identifiable influence on the election. There's just no such thing as a "Manilow effect."
Now, the Manilow coup de grace, along with another kiss-of-death endorsement of Mitt Romney by Jimmy Carter, could create a clear glidepath to the nomination for Rick Perry. But if the Texas governor continues his verbal Ponzi scheme (where he says something, you believe it, then it blows up in his face), and Michele Bachmann's courting of Sheriff Joe Arpaio backfires, Herman Cain could sneak in as the nominee. We know Papa John won't have his back, but if he can put a lid on the Muslim comments, and possibly land endorsements from Sandra Bullock and the Chilean Miners, we could see the upset of the century. It's getting interesting, folks.