Associated Press
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., left, with his wife Franni holding the bible, takes his oath of office during a ceremonial swearing-in by Vice President Joe Biden on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, July 7, 2009, in Washington.

Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, a product of Hollywood, there has been a growing trend to "celebritize" our candidates with lightweights and entertainer types, who have generally had no previous political experience or background. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson and Al Franken are a few that come to mind.

I do not feel this is a healthy trend for our country. We used to consider our candidates for this high office based on their leadership qualities, their diplomatic skills, their ability to communicate effectively — not their popularity, or entertainment value. With an out of control deficit, our national security and numerous other critical issues at stake, we must keep in mind that we are not auditioning American Idol contestants, or finding replacements for Regis Philbin.

When we choose our candidates in the coming year, I would hope we don't base our decision, and our final votes, on the ones who tell the best jokes, were in movies and on TV shows or are the most popular talking heads or comedians.

We sometimes place a higher standard and criteria on who we select as board chairmen, and even school teachers, than we do for who will represent us as the highest leader in the free world for at least the next four years.

As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for". I hope we are learning from the mistakes of the past, and will elect those men and women who truly have the fire in their bellies and the innate ability, patriotism and dedication to get this great country back on course.

George H. Zinn

Salt Lake City