We know (or think we know) who’s representing the blue team in the 2012 presidential race, but have no idea who’s representing the red team. And every day another Republican wannabe is either forming an exploratory committee or issuing an unconvincing denial. Sheesh, this is turning into a game of 43 Man Squamish.
We could wait while the process plays out. But that’s no fun. Instead, let’s find out the answer right now. Just as the NCAA uses a playoff format to determine the college basketball champion, we’ll use the same methodology to predict the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate. We will even improve on the NCAA system by creating brackets composed of similar types of candidates. (It is sorta like the NCAA had one bracket for tall teams, one for fast teams, one for teams John Calipari has or will get put on NCAA probation, etc.)
Let’s give it a try. Today I will lay out the four brackets. Then each week during April, we will select the top candidate from a bracket. The winners will form our final four, then we will have a play-off.
It’s not going to be easy to pick, because we can be sure the Republicans will select the most odious candidate, and as the sports pundits would say, “This year’s pool is particularly deep and odious.”
And you can participate. Each week I will ask your thoughts on one of the brackets and you can use the comments section to make your case for who will emerge from that bracket. At the end of the week, you’ll get to vote. Of course, like the NCAA, your votes may or may not count. But heh, faux democracy is better than no democracy at all I say (actually, Dick Cheney says that, but you get my point.)
Each bracket includes three candidates and one entertainer. Don’t laugh. On average, entertainers stand a better chance than politicians in a Republican contest. The conservatives have never been particularly skilled at discerning legitimate leaders from those who play them in the movies, a trend that started with Ronald the Over-rated and continued with the Governator.
So, without further ado, here are the brackets.
The Strother Martin Bracket: Those competing in this bracket must be old white men with bad accents with at least three chins. The four competitors are:
- Haley “Imperial Wizard” Barbour
- Newt “The Salamander” Gingrich
- Mike Huckabee (Is Huckabee fat or skinny now? Oh well, he’ll be fat again at some point. Close enough.)
- Rush “Do you want to sit on my lap, sonny?” Limbaugh
The Barney Fife Bracket: Those selected in this bracket must be earnest twerps, whose pompous attitude and lack of self-awareness make them totally ridiculous.
- Mitt “Gel-man” Romney
- Herman “Didn’t-I-learn-anything-from-the-Michael-Steele-fiasco?” Cain
- Bobby “I look like Don Knotts. Does that count?” Jindal
- Bill “Brainfart” O’Reilly
Neidermeyer Bracket: Those selected in this bracket must be young, handsome, clean looking and an absolutely lock to have a Mark Sanford/Mark Foley-type meltdown at some point during the process.
- Tim “Ya, it’s me” Pawlenty
- Rick “Don’t make me sit next to that creep Limbaugh, OK?” Santorum
- John “South Dakota is too a real place!” Thune
- Sean “Rhymes with Insanity” Hannity
Cruella Deville Bracket: I don’t really need to explain this one, do I?
- Sarah “Dumb” Palin
- Michelle “And dumber” Bachmann
- Nikki “Convenient Christian” Haley
- Laura “Take that Ann Coulter!” Ingraham
It’s going to be a great tournament, folks!
But what would any bracket be without a list of competitors who should be in the field, but aren’t? In this case, that list includes: Bush 3.0, John Huntsman, Buddy Roemer, John Bolton, George Pataki, Mitch Daniels, Donald Trump and of course, Glenn Beck.
In fairness, Bolton and Roemer would have made the field had there been a bracket for delusional, since their chances of winning are about the same as my chance of sleeping with a super-model. Beck might also have made it, but we don’t know if he will be back from Bizarro-earth in time. But hang in there, boys. With the trajectory the Republican Party is on, your time is a-coming. [Cue gospel choir.]
The readers of this blog probably don’t need judging criteria, but just in case you do, here are the four I am using to constitute my RNI (Republican Nominatability Index.)
1. Policy positions. Of course, the answer will be cut taxes, re-introduce public stoning for adultery, and winking, but there may be nuances between positions. (Who am I kidding?)
2. Qualifications. I really debated putting this one in since it doesn’t seem to matter much to conservatives or progressives. But I’m going with tradition here.
3. Personal history. As a rule, the more like a TV reality show the candidate’s home life, the better they play with the “base.” So Newt Gingrich should be the runaway victor here. But I am an optimist, and when you turn over rocks, particularly Republican rocks, you never know what you will find. I have my fingers crossed that there’s a Larry Craig or Duke Cunningham in this bunch somewhere.
4. Hypocrisy factor—Let’s be honest. Hypocrisy is essential for a politician. You have to be able to spin on a dime and walk away from well-documented positions and life-long friends without glancing back. Just ask our guy, Barrack “Jeremiah Who?” Obama. The more hypocritical the candidate, the more likely they are to win their party’s nomination, and of course when Republicans are hypocritical, the better for us. (It’s comforting to know most have no intention of putting in place all that crazy stuff they’re going to promise in Iowa.) Now there are two types of hypocrisy. There’s hypocrisy around public positions, like a recent governor from Alaska who railed against “money from Washington,” conveniently forgetting that without “money from Washington” her state would empty out like a keg at a frat party. Then there’s private hypocrisy, like John “Oozing Puss” Edwards. The more you have of both, the better from a nominability standpoint.
Well that’s it. Time to weigh in.
To help you get started, here is the thumbnail scouting report for the Strother Martin bracket.
Haley Barbour. Governor of Mississippi. Before current gig most famous as top lobbyist for tobacco companies. Like many Southern politicians, known for his sensitivity to racial issues. Once he scolded a subordinate who used the word “coons” by saying if he kept it up, he’d be “reincarnated as a watermelon and put at the mercy of blacks.” However, he’s not to be taken lightly. He was very successful as head of the RNC and is a big time Republican money man. Bottom line: Not a lot of speed or quickness, but a great inside power game.
Newt Gingrich. Formerly Speaker of the House. Unlike Barbour, who comes from Yazoo City royalty, Gingrich comes from humble roots. His successful rise from child of a single mom living in an apartment above a computer store to small time university professor to big time politico and intellectual engine behind the Republican renaissance can be attributed to his formidable intellect. A mesmerizing speaker, he’d probably be president already were it not for the fact that he is a womanizing slug who attracts ethics violations the way a black coat attracts lint. Bottom line: Probably the most talented competitor in this bracket, but streaky and undisciplined. Prone to foul trouble.
Mike Huckabee. Former Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate in 2008, now host of a Fox TV program. Rare for a Republican candidate, Huckabee is a solid family man without a whiff of scandal. He’s smart, funny, self-deprecating, impossible not to like, and reasonably competent. He is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister and the most religiously intense candidate since Jimmy Carter, which scares the Dickens out of everyone who is not a Southern Baptist. Bottom line: This bracket’s sleeper. Has made a career of being underestimated. Smart and solid. Well coached.
Rush Limbaugh. Radio host and Republican superstar. Has built huge following by being willing to say things people were thinking, but had too much decency to say out loud—has taken shots at minorities, the infirm (Michael J. Fox,) and the recently dead (Jerry Garcia.) Most famous for his casual attachment to facts and accuracy. Multiple marriages and well-documented addictions, as well as voluminous on-the-record comments, raise questions as to whether he could withstand the scrutiny of a campaign. Bottom line: Great offense, capable of scoring lots of points in short period of time. Defensive lapses make deep tourney run unlikely.
Now do your own research, hit the comments section and let me know what you think—who will come out of this bracket and why?
Comments will close next Thursday at noon and the polls will open. (I live in Chicago—of course you can vote more than once.) The winner of this bracket will be announced at 5 p.m. mountain time next Friday.
At that time, I will also provide thumbnail scouting reports on the competitors in the next bracket and open comments.
As Dickie V would say, “It’s time to play, baby!”