To continue that thought:
In 1996 they nominated Bob Dole, long time senator, war hero, statesman. A person eminently qualified to be president of the United States. His running mate was Jack Kemp, also a long time D.C. figure known for thoughtful policies, also unquestionably qualified to be president.
In 2000 they nominated George W. Bush. Best known for being the son of a president. Questionable business career. But was elected and re-elected Governor of a large state. Although that state has a constitutionally weak governorship and his results were murky, he did have that limited record of credibility to run on. Was propped up by master puppeteer, Karl Rove, who invented a bullshit compassionate conservatism to sell. Even so, had to get very lucky, lost the popular vote and handed presidency by Antonin Scalia. His qualifications to be president were debatable but the Beltway Kool Kids weren’t having it. He wasn’t Al Gore and that was good enough. His running mate was Satan, who should never be near the levers of power. But you couldn’t say he wasn’t qualified. Icky but qualified.
Bush got re-elected in another close, questionable race because we were at war. By the middle of his second term the entire country figured out they were rooked.
2008 they went back to a Bob Dole clone, John McCain, right down to the notoriously prickly personality and reputation for bawdy backroom sense of humor. Because he was losing to a black man he made what everyone regarded as a Hail Mary pass and nominated Sarah Palin as his VP. Do I have to go back and remind people of how crazy she was? The half term governor of a state with more bears than people? Not only wasn’t she qualified to be president by experience, she was also too arrogant and stupid to acknowledge it and compensate by trying to be worthy. Picking her invalidated John McCain’s credibility.
2012 they picked an actor who pretended to be a politician of weight and stature. Mitt Romney was phony down to his name. He has just two years more public service on his record than Palin did – one full term as a governor – but pretended that his success in business and having hung around politics all his life was a qualification. Actually, if you count being Mayor of Wasilla, AK (pop. 10,000) Palin had more public service experience than Romney. Again, it kind of wasn’t even part of the debate that he really wasn’t all that qualified to be president. Maybe if there was any question that he wasn’t going to be president it would have been? His running mate was Paul Ryan a personage for whom the line that was invented to describe Newt Gingrich is just as apt: “he’s a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person is like.” I suppose he was somewhat qualified to be president, if you squinted, but again, there really wasn’t a 5 minute period when there was a reasonable hope of him actually being VP, so why quibble?
It’s a natural progression to a consummate celebrity phony being given the keys to dad’s Porsche. He’ll wreck it. There’s no question it’s going in the drink, he has no license and has only ever pretended that he understands how a car works as others drove him around. But he says he’d be the best Formula 1 driver ever, he’s so smart, he’s got the best left turns, so of course he can handle it, right? I totally believe him.