OK, so what’s in today’s edition of the I-Told-You-So Gazette?
As expected, Pawlenty put folks to sleep during the first debate, Newt’s slime, sleaze and sloth continues to give his opponents more than enough to work with, and the publicity-chasing lightweights (that’s you, Herman) continue to fall by the wayside.
Also, last time out we discussed cognitive dissonance, when facts don’t jibe with pre-existing beliefs and the holder of the beliefs simply changes the facts to match the beliefs. This week the Queen of Cognitive Dissonance, Sarah I, provides us an exceptional example. Recently, she botched her explanation of Paul Revere’s ride. But rather than admitting her mistake, her followers piled on Wikipedia and changed the entry to match her inane version of events. Thankfully, the Wiki folks changed it back again, but some of the more conservative history sites are now using the Palin version.
Oh well, if the wingnuts can arbitrarily change economics, geology, chemistry, paleontology, climatology, statistics and biology, as well as having a run at the value of pi, why should history be exempt?” You know, if the far right ever gets its wish and schools start teaching that gibberish they propose, I give it three generations max before our descendants live in huts and spend their time crouched beside streams trying to split atoms with sharp rocks.
Also, it seems the whole world is piling on this bracket idea. Ed Rollins, Bachmann’s new advisor has said that Bachmann will give Palin supporters an alternative if they want to vote for a “woman who’s attractive,” a uniquely Republican criteria for public office discussed here two posts ago. And in the time honored tradition of columnists everywhere when they run short of ideas (Mark Twain has a hilarious section on this in his first book, Roughing It) Joe Klein has decided to become a bracketologist.
But that’s more than enough gloating, I think. Let’s move on to the brackets. Last time out we had eight candidates still in the race: Gingrich, Santorum, Romney, Bachmann, Guliani, Christie, Bush and Paul. We’d already eliminated eight others, including Huckabee and Barbour (who ended up eliminating themselves), Palin and Pawlenty.
Eliminating Pawlenty was, and continues to be, controversial. There seems to be a continuing delusion in the media (and amongst readers of this blog) that Pawlenty stands a reasonable chance of emerging from this thing as the winner. The logic seems to be (1) as a bona fide evangelical nut case, he can survive the early season gauntlet of ideological states and (2) that he is acceptable to the money men of the Republican Party, who after the sturm und drang of the early primaries, have historically been the ones who have decided the party standard bearer. I remain unconvinced.
I remember reading somewhere that when you meet a movie star in person, what inevitably strikes you is that they absolutely ooze sex appeal. Politics is show biz. At some point, a candidate has to have some charisma. It’s not enough to have people not dislike you enough to vote against you, they have to like you (or what they think is you) enough to walk the street knocking on doors for you. I still don’t see it with Pawlenty. But then again, Paris Hilton gives me the creeps—maybe it’s me.
Anyway, let’s get to our bracket.
Santorum vs. Gingrich. In business, one thing you learn fast is that there are some guys you don’t need to argue with, all you have to do is nod and encourage them to keep talking, because sooner or later they will say something so profoundly stupid that everyone in the room will ignore them from that point forward. Gingrich is that guy. You don’t have to beat Newt, all you have to do is wait while he does something that takes him out of the running. Truth is, he’s probably already there. He has never really sold the religious right that he is one of them. He’s alienated the serious (sic) wing of the party with his attack on Paul Ryan Now he’s alienated his own staff with being a lazy, self-indulgent asshole. At least that’s the official reason his staff quit. Perhaps the real reason is that in the professional rat business, you quickly develop a sense for ships with leaky hulls. Santorum.
Bachmann vs. Romney. Bachmann is a surprisingly formidable candidate who should do well in the early going, particularly with her ties to Iowa and her Tea Party support base. However, Mitt is sitting on piles of money, and money goes a long way in national elections. Yes, he still flops like a perch on a lakeside dock, but the public tends to be more tolerant of character flaws once they’ve had a little time to get used to them. Sometimes they even become part of the legend, like Marion Barry. Zig Zag Zell Miller had the same problem as Romney, but eventually Georgia voters just got used to the idea that Zell had the backbone of garden slug and voted for him anyway. If life were fair, Huntsman would get this slot, since he’s exactly like Mitt (rich kid Mormon businessman), only with scruples. But it’s not. Nice try Michelle, but this time, it’s Romney.
Now the other side of the bracket is really interesting, since the “candidates” aren’t really even candidates, at least officially. Which raises a bigger point, the fact that everyone keeps suggesting new candidates for an already crowded field—Guliani, Bush, Christie, Pataki, Cher—means that absolutely no one thinks that any of the clowns already in the center ring can compete with Barrack Obama in the general election. Say what you will about Barry, and I say he’s been a huge disappointment, but he is a serious, serious campaigner. Romney (or whomever) will feel like they tried to shave with a weed whacker once the Obama machine gets hold of them.
Guliani vs. Christie. It would be a hoot to see Christie’s small time résumé put to the test on the national stage—think Palin, only fat and with back hair. But we probably won’t this time around. He’s young enough to be able to pick his fight and running against an incumbent is never a good bet. So Guliani.
Bush vs. Paul. This week Ron Paul and Barney Frank co-sponsored a bill to legalize marijuana. All of a sudden this makes SO-O-O-O-O much sense, like totally. You just know 20 years ago, Ron-Ron and Barnesy were sitting on the floor in Barney’s office in the Congressional Building with a towel up against the door, passing a joint back and forth, and Barnsey says, “Hey dude, do you think I could like be Speaker of the House, like someday?” And Ron-Ron looks back and says, “Well, like no, dude. You’re like totally gay.” Barnsey nods, holds in a big hit, and says, “Yeah, man, you’re right. I forgot.” Ron-Ron laughs. “You didn’t forget man, like your hand’s on my leg.” Barnesy moves his hand. Ron-Ron says, “You stand about as much chance of even hanging on to this gig as I do of being president.” They both collapse into giggles and fall sideways on the floor, scattering empty Twinkie wrappers everywhere. Bush.
Geoff Moore, the business writer, says that whenever a new technology emerges, you should never try to pick the company that will win and invest in them. He says that’s impossible. Instead, you should invest a tiny amount in every company in the space, because one of them is going to hit it big–you just can’t know which one. To some extent, putting Bush 3.0 into the brackets is a little disingenuous. It’s looking increasingly like he may actually sit this one out. But we can be sure that one of the Bush posse will run. For awhile it looked like Daniels, then Bush 3.0, now it looks like Rick “Big Slick” Perry has started making noises about being the guy. It makes sense, Perry is a great politician and has shown that he can line up the resources of the Texas good ol’ boy corruptocracy behind him. He is also an wingnut idiot who supports teaching of intelligent design and a liar, who’s pushed secession, claiming incorrectly that Texas has the Constitutional right, then insisting he really didn’t say that. But a dangerous idiot. His major achievement as governor has been to overturn a ban on executing the mentally retarded. Next time we will take a closer look at Big Slick and see if he will be the Chosen Texan.
So there’s the final four—Romney, Guliani, Bush (or a player to be named later) and Santorum. What a mess! But then again, these things often are.
Time to vote – who do you prefer?
Portraits by Paul Szep.