Aha! My predictions are already coming good. In my first post in this series I said not to be surprised if the Republicans chose an entertainer for their candidate, because they can’t tell politicians and entertainers apart. And sure enough, Donald Trump has surged to the lead of the pack. No one in that party seems to notice that the last time Trump ran for president (Reform Party, 2000) he did so on a very socially liberal platform or that his personal life doesn’t seem too consistent with family values (but then, neither did Reagan’s or McCain’s).
Oh well, enough gloating. Back to work.
Sigh. This polling thing isn’t taking off quite like I hoped. I wonder if it’s bracket-exhaustion after basketball season or maybe people aren’t buying into my basic premise–that Republican candidates tend to fit into one of a handful of high school stereotypes: Eagle Scout-who-will-come-out-of-the-closet-freshman-year-at-college, slutty Cheerleader, overly-intense Student Council President, rowdy Athlete, etc. That is, all politicians are characters, but because of the low intelligence and sophistication of the “base” and the importance of the “base” to the primary process, Republican candidates have to make themselves into caricatures.
Then again, this thing won’t heat up for another few months. Maybe it’s just too early at the circus. The clowns always show up to warm up the crowd before the serious performers climb up to the rafters and grab the trapeze. And although it’s always a bit dicey separating the clowns from the main act at Republican Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, it’s pretty likely some of those out there this time really are clowns. Donald “Flip Top” Trump is making Palin look thoughtful and responsible. Maybe the serious candidates–Bush 3.0, Christie, Huntsman and Daniels–are still in the dressing room pulling on their tights. Honk honk.
Barney Fife Bracket
Romney. No, I still can’t believe he will win the whole thing. But he’s got some name recognition and a few semi-load’s full of cash, and that buys you some momentum in the primary process, so he should get through to the second round.
And for some strange reason, character flaws are like corporate earnings releases: they only cause problems when they are a surprise. If everybody knows this quarter’s earnings are going to suck, the stock doesn’t move. Last time around we were surprised to find out Romney was a chameleon. Now we’ve all had time to get comfortable with his, ahem, flexibility on the issues and perhaps it won’t be such a big deal this time. Remember the last Romney-like candidate, George Bush I? He was just as boring, just as qualified, and like Mitt his moral compass spun like a roulette wheel. He did 180s on, among other things, abortion rights and Reagan’s tax cuts (remember when he branded the supply side arguments upon which those cuts were based “voodoo economics”?) So there is a precedent. It’s a depressing precedent, but it’s a precedent. The only good news is that “manager” type presidents tend to be one termers.
Now, on to the Neidermeyer bracket.
Tim Pawlenty. A few nights ago Pawlenty appeared on Piers Morgan’s show on CNN, and Piers asked him if he was willing to be Donald Trump’s vice president. No fooling, Donald Trump’s vice president. How sad. That pretty much says it all. Despite virtually non-stop campaigning since the last election, his book never got above #1979 on Amazon and polls say two-thirds of Americans don’t even know who this guy is. Let this blog help. Q: Who is Pawlenty? A: A cross between Huckabee and Romney–a fiercely evangelical social conservative with some positions that could be problematic come election time–he’s said we need to cut Social Security to balance the budget, he cut doctor salaries in Min–nee–so–tah, and he forgot his free market principles entirely when the owners of Minneapolis’s pro sports franchises stuck their hands out. Unless there’s a Republicapolypse and all the other candidates get the plague, it’s hard to see this guy getting through.
Rick Santorum. Very strong social and fiscal conservative. On the social side, devout Catholic who’s blamed the priest sex scandal on the permissive cultural atmosphere in Boston and has tried to make teaching of Intelligent Design the law. He’s pro-himself, anti-immigrant, anti-homosexual (has compared gay sex to man-on-dog sex,) anti-Islam, and anti-just-about-everything-done-since-the-Inquisition. His track record is that he gets elected with great enthusiasm and high hopes, then sort of fades as people get to know him. (Unfortunately, as we former Obama supporters know, sometimes those “enthusiasm” guys get elected over more substantitive candidates.) Some ethics issues lurking. If you are one of the few people in American who hasn’t already done so, Google “Santorum.”
John Thune. Seriously, I have trouble telling these guys apart. Tall evangelical Christians who are anti-everything, blah, blah, blah. They even look a little bit alike. Huey, Dewey or Louie? Well, there’s a reason for the scary uniformity. Is it a coincidence that they were all born between 1958 and 1961, exactly as the book (1959) and movie (1962) Manchurian Candidate were popular? Probably not. These guys are part and parcel of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” created post-Nixon when the ultra-right realized they couldn’t win at the ballot box without disguising the fact that they are creepy old men. Recently said he’s not running, and people seem to believe him since no one outside of South Dakota has any clue who he is. Fun fact: More people live in Albequerque, New Mexico than in the entire state of South Dakota.
Luckily, in true Republican style, at least one (and probably all three) will turn out to be in one closet or another, and we can only guess what will be in that closet. Bestiality pornography, leather, chains, transgender dating sites (a la Chris Lee)? Remember, a few years ago Mark Sanford would have been on this list. The reason the Kochs had to manufacture so many of these robots is because they seem to have a design flaw: a built in self-destruct button that goes off at random times.
Sean Hannity. Got to be honest, Sean is authentic. When you take a not-so-bright hard-core Catholic bartender-slash-construction worker and give him one of the biggest TV platforms in the country, this is what you get: An opinionated loud mouth, Joe-the-Plumber with hair and eyes that are a little too close together. To give Hannity his due, though, he has proven very adept at making shit up. Fact checker at his show must be either the easiest job in the world or the most frustrating, depending on how you look at it. More seriously, some relatively serious ethics issues in his background of the type that are hard for those on the right to wave off (involving misuse of funds from concerts he sponsored for soldiers.)
And lest you think I’m paranoid, Hannity was born in 1960, the same time frame as Manchurian Candidates above him on the list.
OK, folks, weigh in. What do you think?