Hugh Jidette (say it out loud and you’ll get it) is a fake presidential candidate. Not in the same sense that Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal are fake, but inasmuch that he doesn’t really exist. However, the ironic main plank to his platform isn’t fake. Perhaps it’s no less ironic than what really happens in Washington.
In one of the “campaign” commercials, Hugh Jidette says America should double or even triple its national debt, which as of this writing is approximately $13.7 trillion. He says to forget about it because our children will pay for it. Whereas real-life politicians dont talk about it, he talks about his disregard for the debt.
The Hugh Jidette fake campaign is a knock on Washington politicians and their fiscal shortsightedness and lack of leadership in light of their constant bids for re-election. Indeed, tackling such an issue as our deficit and national debt would be political suicide in the reality-TV political circus we have.
The campaign is an attempt at going viral with a message about the U.S. national debt. Like the Pickens Plan, it’s essentially a philanthropic billionaire making a run at saving the world with his fortune in the twilight of his life. Unlike T. Boone Pickens‘ plan, this one aims to go viral without showing the man (with the money) behind the curtain.
Peter G. Peterson, an investment banker, served as Richard Nixon‘s Secretary of Commerce in the late ’60s and early ’70s.He also served on the Bi-Partisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform in the ’90s, and was named to the commission by Bill Clinton.
Peterson is a fiscal conservative, which is why he has long identified himself with the Republican party. However, during the George W. Bush presidency, in which fiscal responsibility went out the window, Peterson started to push back against his own party. In a 2004 BusinessWeek article, he said “I remain a Republican, but the Republicans have become a far more theological, faith-directed party, not troubling with evidence.”
Peterson became a billionaire in 2007 when the investment management firm he co-founded called the Blackstone Group when public. Through the fortune he amassed there, he started working on philanthropic causes, and in August of this year, he made “The Giving Pledge,” like his billionaire peers Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
Now, through his foundation, he champions the cause of fiscal sustainability, and in a 2009 Newsweek article he wrote entitled Why I’m Giving Away $1 Billion, he said,
“For the first time in my memory, the majority of the American people join me in believing that, on our current course, our children will not do as well as we have. For years, I have been saying that the American government, and America itself, has to change its spending and borrowing policies: the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlements and promises, the dangerous dependence on foreign capital, our pitiful level of savings, the metastasizing health-care costs, our energy gluttony. These structural deficits are unsustainable. Herb Stein, who served alongside me in the Nixon White House as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, once drily observed, ‘If your horse dies, I suggest you dismount.’And yet, we keep trying to ride this horse.”
It’s hard to disagree with this man. Granted, as a billionaire, he will never see the same financial problems many of us do. But in this country we have to look long and hard at what our government does – and what we do in regards to our national spending habits. We are all culpable, and we can’t ignore $13 trillion in borrowed money like it doesn’t matter. We’re culpable because we want more and more, and we elect politicians who tell us what we want to hear. But in reality, they’re just singing us lullabies so we can sleep while they secure one of the 537 jobs in Washington that aren’t going anywhere…Rock-a-bye, baby…
But when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall… we all know how it ends.