GOP Madness 2012: the Niedermeyer and Cruella de Ville brackets

I wish the Republicans would slow down. It’s no fun being prescient when you’re proved right as soon as you hit the “publish post” button.

  • In this case, in earlier editions of GOP Madness, I suggested Pawlenty would have some trouble getting away from previous positions of his, and sure enough I saw him on TV a few days ago, admitting he’d made mistakes and begging for a mulligan. Well, the latest polls are out and it looks like the voters will give him a mulligan, but they ain’t gonna elect him president. As expected, he’s dragging up the rear, way behind Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee and the real contenders.
  • I also suggested that Trump was the clown in a little car sent out to warm up the crowd before the real acts entered the ring. Sure enough, the Republicans finally realized they were being punked, and dumped him straight to the bottom of the polls. I am not sure they ever would have gotten it if Obama had not eviscerated him at the White House Correspondents dinner.  But they are smart enough to know that Obama is smart enough that he’s not going to give his real competitors any free advertising. (Yes, Tim, he did mention you. You too, Michelle.)
  • And finally, Slimy Newt decided to clean up his image of being a philandering adulterous slug by trotting out his third wife, a devout Catholic with whom he had an affair with while he was married to someone else. Even as we speak the needles on the irony-meters located in the secret Sandia Laboratories deep beneath the New Mexico desert are pegged into the red zone.

Whee! What fun, and the beer cart hasn’t even come around yet.

Ahem, but this is a serious blog site and there is serious business to be done here. First, the Niedermeyer Bracket results. Pawlenty or Santorum or Thune or Hannity?

Now this is a toughie, not just because they are all clones of each other, but because the right answer is probably “none of the above.” I am going to go with a bit of an upset here and say Santorum.

I just can’t see how to market Pawlenty. Brands matter in politics and there are established brands that always play well. McCain: Feisty war hero who’s not afraid to tell the truth no matter what it costs him. Palin: Uneducated but lots of common sense maverick from the backwoods. No matter that neither brand was exactly true, or that both were ripped off from the movies– Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart respectively. Their brands enabled you to put them into neat slots in your brain, exactly as branding is intended to do. What slot does Pawlenty go into? Gray? Day old oatmeal? Mittens?

Santorum has a brand, one borrowed from the Inquisition, but a brand: Scourge of the morally loose, e.g., gays .

So Santorum, in a mudslide.

The Cruella De Ville Bracket

Finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Drum roll please. Palin or Bachmann or Haley or Ingraham?

Before we get started, there’s something we need to deal with. In June of 2009, Guy Cimbalo wrote an article for Playboy on the top 10 Republican women he’d like to have “hatesex” with. Most readers on both sides of the political spectrum interpreted “hatesex” as a euphemism for rape, and Playboy immediately pulled the article and put the editor who approved it into witness protection. Unfortunately, because Cimbalo let his inner teenage asshole get too close to the keyboard, everyone missed that he was making a pretty interesting point: Prominent Republican women are, in the main, exceptionally attractive and play to that attractiveness. (The picture that accompanies this blog is Michelle Malkin delivering political commentary dressed as a teen cheerleader.)

Let’s be honest, it’s not that easy to name ten attractive political figures in any genre:

  • Republican men—well, there’s Scott Brown and then there’s…. How old is Arnold now?
  • Democrat men—Obama and…… Hmmm. How about John-John? He’s dead? Darn. Well, then. Hey, is Scott Brown a Democrat? Are you sure?
  • Democrat women?

YOU try it. Make a list of ten well-known calendar-worthy politicians or political types of any cut. It’s impossible. Except for Republican women.

A disproportionate share of female Republican political types are not just nice looking, but are head snapping, pheromone triggering, tie-straightening attractive. The obvious hypothesis is that Republican manhood is threatened by any woman that does not conform to rigid and well-defined stereotypes, and in essence, women who would succeed on the right must disguise themselves to be successful. Or maybe, due to a strange warp in the space time continuum, serious Republican women have more hours in the day than Democrat women. For some reason, they can balance career, family, church, analysis of policy documents, and still have four hours a day to spend in the gym and at the beauty parlor. Nah, I am going with the manhood hypothesis.

There’s a doctoral thesis or two in there somewhere.

But no time for that. On to the candidate capsules.

Sarah Palin. If you’ve read other blog posts of mine, you know by now that I am not a Sarah fan. It comes down to a species thing. One of us is a dog and the other a cat. I call myself meritocratic, which is a nice way of saying I believe the world should be run by the intelligent elite. Were her vocabulary up to it, Sarah probably would also consider herself a meritocrat, with merit defined as evangelical faith paired with “common sense,” which is a nice way of saying superstitious ignorance. Still, there’s a lot to admire about this woman. She’s tough, tenacious, and courageous enough to bring a Down ’s Syndrome baby into the world. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she left the governorship in the middle of it, but come on: If your choice was to live in Wasilla wearing longjohns in June and selling snowmobiles or be on TV in LA and make a gazillion dollars, what would you do? I thought so. Here’s the line for the tourney: Lot of baggage here, but she’s surprised us before.

Michele Bachmann. Superficially, Bachmann seems a lot like Sarah — Tea Party, strident, dumb, insanely ambitious, and prone to say stuff that is batshit crazy. In fact, though, these two are pretty different. Bachmann is educated, has a long track record of public service, is deep in the issues, and appears to come at many of her policy positions at least as much from an political or ideological logic as from a religious one. (Other positions, like her take on climate disruption, she gets from sitting at a Ouija board with her Labrador retriever.) She should be pretty darn formidable as a candidate. And would be, if she weren’t a loud-mouthed microphone-grabber hated even by those on her own side. Not as young as she looks (or nearly as young as Sarah,) there’s the faint reek of desperation about the current run. Time and gravity are not kind to the beautiful. The tournament line: Hard to see her playing well outside the Tea Party base. Too many stupid quotes in the public domain. Will also suffer from being seen as a Nissan to Sarah’s Toyota.

Nikki Haley. Most American ship owners do not register their ships in the U.S., but instead use Panama or Liberia or the Marshall Islands as “flags of convenience.” It’s easy to envisage Indian-American politicians like Piyush Jindal and Nikki Haley studying late in their rooms during high school, reading about flags of convenience, and light bulbs going on above their ambitious little heads. Or maybe it’s just coincidence that their parents are Hindu and Sikh while Piyush and Nikki are Catholic and Christian, respectively, the same as the voters in the states where they run for office. Oh well, they’re not the first—Nikki could also have gotten the idea from Harry Reid. Tourney line: Dangerous but untested. Too new to have baggage. Beautiful, young, smart by right wing standards. Still goes to Sikh religious ceremonies, which wasn’t a problem in S.C., but could be an issue up against some Christian candidates.

Laura Ingraham. To beat a dead horse, Ingraham is of a type. In this case, that type is a late forties Ivy League undergrad, public law school blond Connecticut firebrand who used to date Dinesh D’Souza and is famous for saying outrageous and untrue things on her radio show. Just like Ann Coulter. Of course, there are subtle differences. Coulter got her start with unfounded attacks on liberals, while Ingraham got hers outing “Sodomites,” secretly taping kids who belonged to a gay rights organization and sending the recordings to their parents. Although, people who live in walk-in closets shouldn’t throw shoes, and it’s been widely speculated that Ingraham has some issues of her own. Perhaps that’s why she has now toned the gay-bashing down, but she is still known as the “high priestess of hate radio.” At least Rush, Sean and Glenn can fall back on the excuse that they are uneducated louts and don’t really know any better. Ingraham can’t. Maybe education in this country really is failing. Line: Too nasty for even the Republicans. Her parents probably hug her with tongs.

All rightee then. Does Sarah have staying power? Can Michelle ride her Tea Party horse out of Sarah’s long shadow? Is Nikki ready for the big time? Could Laura hold herself together through the stress of a campaign or would she implode like a beach ball at a porcupine party?

It’s time to vote!

Which candidate do you favor in the GOP Madness 2012 Cruella DeVille bracket?Market Research

9 replies »

  1. Otherwise, you’ve posed an excellent point about the attractiveness of politicians outside of some prominent Republican women. I plan on investigating this matter further. I hope to share my results.

  2. @Samuel–Andrew Sullivan has made a pretty compelling case that it’s not. But if not Sarah’s, then who’s? A ten (or whatever) year old Bristol? As the old joke about Hollywood agents goes, “Hello,” he lied. We know the Palin’s lie often and unnecessarily (see Bristol’s medically necessary cheekbone implants) so I don’t necessarily believe them, just not sure the alternative is compelling. By the way, as a parent of two non-Down’s kids, I think it is just as courageous to agree to care for a Down’s child for life as it is to concieve and birth one. So my compliment stands, although I am gagging as I type that.

    @Tom–that would be so cool. Come up with the lists and circle back. I will try to help you do something with it if you like.

  3. Sam, I think you reveal a lot when you wrote “I believe the world should be run by the intelligent elite”. Not everyone wants to be ruled, even by “the intelligent elite”. Some of us prefer individual freedoms and liberties but acknowledge that some government is necessary to protect others from usurping our civil rights. But as power corrupts… it’s best to minimize the power we grant to others to “run” our world. Given freedom, we may make what appears to be a ‘dumb’ choice with our lives, but it’s our life, and we each need to take that responsibility. Having government to protect you from my right to extend my fist into your face is important, but not to dictate how and when I extend my fist for “the greater good”. Plenty of evil has been done in the name of the “greater good” by the “intelligent elite” throughout history.

    • John: This is perhaps true, but that comment doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is, by definition, comparative. So we have to ask ourselves how much evil has been done by a well-intentioned intelligent elite vs. how much has been done, and is likely to be done, by an uneducated mob? And then vs. a cynical, oligarchic elite. And then, vs. an uneducated mob being puppetmastered by a cynical, oligarchic elite, which is the condition we have now and which we are getting more of by the day.

      I’ll take my chances with the meritocratic elite.

    • John, would you rather be ruled by those who were lucky enough to be born smarter or to be born with money because an ancestor three generations ago got lucky and struck oil, or would you rather be ruled by people who understand how people are, how the world works, what needs to be done, and who have committed to maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives for all vs. for a tiny, wealthy, lucky minority?

      Because you and everyone else is going to be ruled one way or another. At least in Otherwise’s meritocratic world you have a chance for yourself and your family – in your preferred world we’d end up with nobles and peasants. Actually, we already have that – your world would make American Feudalism even worse, with the lucky rich living above and apart from the masses in a dystopian nightmare a la Blade Runner or The Handmaid’s Tale.

  4. A keen analysis. But where’s the doper bracket, i.e. the libertarians? I’m a Gary Johnson fan myself. As for the Republican women, maybe conservatives are just less PC: liberals are so insistent that women’s value transcends sex that sexuality itself becomes a disqualifier. Or it could be a random cluster effect. In any event, the vicious sexual nature of some of the attacks on Palin ought to knock the liberals pretty definitely off the high moral ground in this regard. Apparently rape fantasies are only bad when conservatives have them.