American Sauce: Political sincerity test
August 23rd, 2011
01:13 PM ET
10 years ago

American Sauce: Political sincerity test

(CNN) – Some 2012 candidates give out pies. Others label their speech location "the best place in the country". All of them eat corn dogs and insist they're not regular politicians. The cheese is getting thick in the presidential campaign.

So this week in our American Sauce podcast we ask, "Can we take any of these politicians seriously?" Listen here. It's a good show.

To help candidates and voters alike, we've crafted our own sort of political sincerity test, assigning a point value to each campaign cliché, moment of hokiness and high-cheese factor. Comment below with what you'd add. Keep reading to look or take the test.

Political Sincerity Test

Politicians, concerned that your campaign has gone over the top? That you are more candidate than actual person? Take the test below and count the number of points you've racked up.

1 pt – Each day you use the same stump speech.
1 pt – Red tie or power jacket.
1 pt – Answering question by starting with "Look…"

5 pts – Holding a baby you just met.
5 pts – Ignoring children and speaking only to people of voting age.
5 pts – Speaking within kicking distance of a bale of hay.
5 pts – Mentions local sports team.
5 pts – Playing country music at one of your appearances.
5 pts – Wearing jeans. (Extra 10 points if wears jeans with a jacket/sports coat.)
5 pts – Taking a single bite out of dish of food and commenting immediately on how good it is.
5 pts – Eating fried food in front of cameras.

10 pts – Eating fried food in front of cameras at a fair.
10 pts – Giving away food as a prize.
10 pts – Posing with an animal.
10 pts – Story about a family member.
10 pts – Blaming the media.
10 pts – Saying your spouse is your better half. (This includes stories about a spouse initially turning you down for dates or a proposal.)
10 pts – Stressing you like the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Elvis or otherwise musically pandering to Baby Boomers.
10 pts – Bus tour.
10 pts – Mentioning your humble roots.

15 pts – Using the phrase "humble roots"
15 pts – Insisting you're not a politician if you have ever been elected to another office.
15 pts – Listing your regular church attendance as a campaign event.
15 pts – Incorrectly quoting an American founding father or founding document.
15 pts – Saying place you're at is the best place in the state, country or world at something.

20 pts – Taking off your jacket mid-sentence or mid-event.
20 pts – Playing any song at your event which the artist requests you stop playing.
20 pts – Not answering a question.

30 pts – Not answering a question but insisting that you have.


0 – 100 points: Human. You are more human than political.

100-200 points: Cheesy and In Danger. You are at least highly cheesy and certainly are in danger of losing yourself to the campaign.

200+ points: Over The Top. You are a campaign addict and need to take a cold-turkey break from your consultants.

Want more on the staging, hype and dangers of the presidential campaign? Listen to our podcast here.   You can also listen to American Sauce on iTunes, Stitcher or subscribe to the podcast via RSS.

- CNN's Dan Szematowicz, Emma Lacey-Bordeaux and Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • American Sauce
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    I'm for the legalization of marijuana. I doubt if any of these candidates besides for Ron Paul will hit a doobie for my vote.

    August 23, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Linton

    250 pts – for saying: "Our country was founded on Christian principles" – (which it was not!)

    August 23, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I believe Fox is trying their darnest to dump Palin without firing her and Palin is trying her hardest to avoid debates. Fox has found out what an idiot Palin really is but she's not ready to give up that money. When you hear Karl Rove talk about Palin, they all know the way to get rid of her permently is for her to get in the campaign which she can't win, she's way out of her league.

    August 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. mbc

    How about we give a president 6-8 years in office with no second terms, and cut all this re-election BS out!

    August 23, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. ST

    What is Perry eating??? My goodness it does not show nice outside. This man since he joined other contenders, he doesn't present anything good. Am totaly pissed off with him! Sorry cowboy man!!

    August 23, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    Politics is what it is. Nothing more – nothing less. Even Jesus had to deal with lying, hypocritical, corrupt politicians.

    It doesn't matter what they eat or where they chose to be photographed – politicians lie. All of them. The trick is to find one who will at least implement policies to better this country and move us forward. That's the only thing that matters.

    August 23, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Silence Dogood

    What about eating a baby you just met, or is that just a Cheney thing?

    It's not incorrectly quoting a founding father or founding document if your followers change the Wikipedia entry to match your vision of events. (Especially if the follower cites multiple sources: 1) Your comments and 2) the televised report of your comments. See, two sources.)

    August 23, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Steve, New York City

    Political sincerity? Isn't that an oxymoron?

    The far left says that they're not trying to stoke class warfare (yeah right), the far right say they're opposed to Obama's policy, and not his skin color (does anyone believe that any congressman would have yelled "You Lie" at Carter or Clinton – and what about comments like "Tar Baby" – really?)? Both of these sides say "America first" (while they stuff their pockets with campaign contributions from big oil, the NRA, the AIPAC and Wall St). Sorry – no such thing as a sincere politician.

    August 23, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    I would add some items with negative point totals. If you wind up with a total in the negative, then you are safe bet to win.

    -10 = Correcting past misstatements.
    -20 = Quoting easily verifiable facts.
    -30 = Correctly giving credit where credit is due.
    -40 = Crying on the campaign trail. (Hey, it worked out great for Hillary.)

    August 23, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Slooooooow news day huh CNN?

    August 23, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    How about if you score more than 200 points in a three day period and then claim that you are in fact not even campaigning but just visiting a ( key swing ) state and listening to 'the people'. I think Obama should get an extra 100 points for trying to pull that off earlier this month.

    August 23, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. 100% ETH

    "Incorrectly quoting an American founding Father or founding documents".

    I bet everyone, no American Presidents and Government officials could quote the direct words that has been written or said in the 17th Century and before that.

    Even the HOLLY BIBLE we have now, has been re-written many times with new Words. Shame!
    The cover-up is, "The new Words are invented. The new generation cannot understand the old English Words".

    Remember, we could mis-interpreting the Bible, if we don't stick with the Original Words. It might not be Scientifically correct, but it is THEOLOGY and Religious Doctrine.

    August 23, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. RCH

    I love this quiz.

    August 23, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. justin

    That pic with pastor perry and the corndog.... i think people know where i;m going with this.

    August 23, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Plastic People

    All three pictures are of very plastic people – they look very un-comfrtable, and seeing them trying to be what they aren't is uncomfortable.

    August 23, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Max

    Hi Republicians, did you feel the quakes? Palin, Bachmann, Perry, West, Cain, stop the sillies, I believe someone is trying to tell you something!

    August 23, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    No such thing as sincerity in politics.

    Anyone who would actually be good at the job, would NOT want the job.

    August 23, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. C. Howe Yulikit

    Wow, Perry's only been in for a few weeks and his score is 6,012.

    August 23, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    250 pts – Being confronted with contrary facts/evidence during an interview and yet still insisting without citing any supporting facts/evidence that the party-line ideological stance is an absolute truth of the universe, such as regurgitating trickle-down economis talking opints or 'tax cuts create jobs," denying climate change/evolution or questioning a person's birth certificate.

    And yes, those 250 points are meant to to fit squarely within the point scale above.

    August 23, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Yes, I think it is safe to say that today is a very slow news day on the Ticker! Come on CNN, surely Sarah Palin must have said or done SOMETHING you can put up on the Ticker. I sense a lack of red meat in the diet of the lefty bloggers out there.

    August 23, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. boocat

    It's called pandering...they all do it....the only one who doesn't is Ron Paul.

    August 23, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Ron , West Coast

    Rick Perry looks funny with that Wiener in his mouth .

    August 23, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Andrew

    You forgot two biggies: Consistently flip-flopping on issues and dissing the President for anything and everything.

    August 23, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Russ

    They are all a bunch of lying hypocrites. Making all kinds of promises that they can't keep and they know it. Sad part is there are certain groups of people in this country that go, "You betcha, he be our man, he'll hep us get this here country back. Yessiree. I'm ma votin' for him/her."

    August 23, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Jaywing

    By this measure, practically the entire GOP field has already failed - and failed miserably. In geek terms - Epic Fail! What's so funny is that Perry's done so in less than a week. At least Bachmann and Palin took a month to do so; but then, they're well beyond fail at this point in the campaign. My guess is that the best scenario for any of these candidtaes is to use Palin's strategy to Not run and hope that people forget you're a right-wing fundamentalist whiner, wacko, loser, quiter and serial liar. Nah... ain't gonna work!

    August 23, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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