There are a lot of reasons to run for president. Some people run for president because they want to marry Lil Wayne. Some people run for president because they like talking about old work e-mail. Some people run for president because they are legitimate candidates that have a real shot; some do it as a lark, because they're goofing around or are perhaps a bit emotionally unstable.
But then there's a middle ground — people who seem to actually think they might be able to somehow pull off the miracle that every first-grader is told is possible and every high school freshman realizes isn't: That they might be able to get elected despite no one ever having heard of them.
Meet Mark Everson.
Everson was commissioner of the IRS for four years under President George W. Bush, and the energy and charisma that job must have required is conveyed in the video announcing his presidential bid.
Let's talk about the video above for a second. If you haven't clicked play, you are encouraged to do so, at least for the first little bit. (Are we the only ones that think the desire of Web users to watch videos is vastly overstated? No?)
Here's what happens. Two affluent-looking women are moping around a nicely appointed house, talking about their Feelings About America, as one does. The mopier of the two frowns into her coffee mug. "Why even bother voting?" The other pulls out her pricey iPhone 6 Plus. "Here," she says. "Get inspired by this." A video plays, and some man that she has not heard of begins intoning about the constructive solutions our country needs. Starting with: Bold tax reform! Or, more accurately: bold tax reform.
No one on God's green Earth could fault a viewer of this video message for feeling a bit overstimulated.
Mark Everson will not be our next president. Mid-tier presidential campaigns — or, probably more accurately, just-above-bottom-tier campaigns — can often be attention-seeking plays more than anything, moves to try to land some other job or to bolster the value of an endorsement or whatever move to accumulate political capital is most appealing to the "candidate." But Everson went all out, with a nice Web site and a professionally produced introductory video. It cost money! What's the play?
Not to twist the knife, but Everson is also awfully forthright about some of the skeletons in his closet, right off the bat. Which detail do you think people who spend a lot of time on his Web site are more likely to point out to friends over a cup of coffee: His dryly delivered points about simplifying the tax code or the bit on his "Additional Issues" page where he mentions in passing that a former lover aborted a child of his and that his marriage failed (though he doesn't draw a line between the two). After he left the IRS, he ran the Red Cross — until an affair with a subordinate became public. That sort of thing might hobble a top-tier candidate, much less one that has as close a view of the top tier as we on Earth have of the planet Jupiter.
Democracy is an amazing system, and amazing things can happen. Telling small children that they too might be president is technically accurate and instills a sense of pride in a system that doesn't always warrant it. But democracy is also a heavily cratered battleground that constantly lures the vain to destruction. Run for president. But know that the reception will not necessarily be as warm as the one emoted by the actresses you hired.