Simon Cowell for President

Published January 19, 2012

OK, I’m not seriously suggesting that, of course. For one thing, he’s not a U.S. citizen. But I’m convinced we need a Republican presidential candidate with the “X Factor” he promotes and embodies.

Cowell, for those living on another planet, is the British music mogul who has been a power behind the scenes in that industry for several decades. He has become famous more recently, however, as a judge on singing competition shows here and in the U.K.

He started as a judge withAmerican Idol in 2002, leaving in 2010. He produces and judges on The X Factor in Britain. This fall he brought The X Factor to the United States, again as producer and a judge.

American Idol was interesting at first. It aired hilarious outtakes from unsuccessful candidates who, all evidence to the contrary, think they can sing. Their screeching was followed by Cowell’s withering and politically incorrect putdowns, such as, “That’s bloody awful.” Somehow, his British accent gave his comments more weight. The “bloody” part was particularly influential.

I almost—but not quite—felt sorry for these poor kids. Cowell diced and sliced their lack of talent, exposing the totally unwarranted nature of their previous nurturing in high self-esteem. They had been given high praise for paltry vocal talents, ultimately leading them to public humiliation at the hands of Cowell. It was sad.

But America loved it.

And so did I.

Despite Cowell, the show got boring after a while. Winning American Idol was just a popularity contest. Nothing real was at stake.

Plus, the contestants were all twenty-somethings. The females were beautiful/cute or potentially beautiful/cute, though many of them had unbecoming body piercings and whole-body tattoos. The males were usually sensitive-looking, typically lacking anything virile like hair on their chests or a five-o’clock shadow. Males nevertheless almost always won in the end, reportedly because voting (by social media) was mostly done by young females indoctrinated to view Justin Bieber types as the epitome of maledom.

Then, while channel-surfing one evening for an alternative to yet another Republican presidential contenders’ debate, I found The X Factor USA on the Fox Network.

It was immediately interesting, because the lower age was 13 and there was no upper age limit. Viewers met the charming and talented Rachel Crow and Drew Ryniewicz, both age 13, and LeRoy Bell, who sang with a golden voice at age 60. It was fascinating to watch Melanie Amaro, 19, an overweight and frankly frumpy college student, transformed into a beauty as the competition continued.

They were all incredibly different and incredibly talented. I was addicted. And there was Josh Krajcik, 30, who certainly did not lack body hair and crooned songs like “Wild Horses” with a voice sounding harshed by cigarettes and alcohol. His day job was “slinging burritos.” Yet he and the others survived elimination, nearing the first prize, a $5 million record contract. Amaro won, but other contenders will have the chance to become recording stars. The embodiment of the American dream.

Cowell at first disqualified Amaro from the competition. A day later, he flew to her Florida home and apologized, saying he was wrong. He brought her back into the competition.

He later accepted responsibility for enabling Ryniewicz to continue her interesting but bland yodeling of ballads, to which the other X Factorjudges objected as boring and sent her home. It’s my fault, not hers, Cowell said. Don’t eliminate her because of me. Wow! Barack Obama would never do that.

So by then I was all-in.

I wondered about Cowell’s history and googled him. To my shock, I found an editorial he wrote in 2010, published in The Sun, supporting conservative principles in the U.K. and David Cameron for prime minister. He wrote, in part:

I have always hated celebrities lecturing people on politics. So forgive me. But I am passionate about this country. I am equally passionate about the potential of the people who live here. . . .

It should be everyone’s birthright to get the chance to fulfill their dream. Yes, for some it’s being a pop star. But for many more hard-working Brits, it’s something far less flash—it’s starting your own business.

That’s what it was for me. But that’s harder in our country now than it has been for a long time and that really has to change.

It’s not just that the banks won’t lend. The masses of red tape, regulation and political correctness have tied us all up in knots.

It’s the government’s job to encourage entrepreneurialism and investment. Most importantly, it’s the government’s duty to inspire confidence.

It should give hope to the younger generation to build on our wonderful heritage. It should inspire us to get out there and create and invent.

And then it should get right out of the way.


And here is why I say, “Simon Cowell for President.” Or someone like him.

First, when he is wrong, he admits it and apologizes. President Obama would never do this. But Americans embrace such candor.

And one can just hear him saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Mitt Romney, the Ken-doll Republican presidential contender, is too polite to say so. And that is exactly why Americans won’t enthusiastically embrace his candidacy.

And one cannot envision Cowell sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi and embracing anthropogenic global warming catastrophe claims. “Complete and utter rubbish,” he would say.

In a debate with President Obama, he might just say (as he did to a contestant on one of his shows), “I am sick to death of you.”

Cowell undoubtedly has the X Factor. I want a presidential candidate just like him.

Maureen Martin ([email protected]) is senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute.