By Lynn Paris
I’m no fan, trust me, but as an observer I’d say it’s time to get serious if you really want to win the White House. It’s one thing to be all negative and obstructionist while you’re in Congress or taking shots from the sidelines, but you guys actually should have a huge opportunity in 2012. After all, we DO have a lousy economy, regardless of who’s really to blame for that, and someone other than the incumbent almost always wins if the American voters can’t answer “Yes” when asked if they’re better off today than they were four years ago. It’s your time, guys, but you sure seem to be blowing it.
So my advice would be to get serious, and by that I mean to put forth a credible candidate. Like immediately. Because, really (and I hate giving you any advice right now) your current slate of candidates is a joke. In fact, there have been times when I couldn’t tell if I was watching a parody on Saturday Night Live or an actual Republican debate, with the real debate winning only because it was even more absurd than anything SNL could come up with.
Although some of you who I know personally walk around with self-satisfied little grins on your faces, trying hard to pretend that any of your candidates would be better than Obama, don’t forget I know you, and I’m sure you’re smarter than that. You may be trying to project confidence, but I know you know deep down inside that you’re in trouble. That would explain why approximately 60 percent of you have still not decided who you’d support, either in the primary or in the general election. Any of them would be better, you insist, but you don’t really like any of them, do you.
Let’s just take a look at your candidates, shall we? It will help explain your predicament. Now, I’m trying to recall who your first “darling” was . . . you know, the one most of you got behind and considered the frontrunner for the nomination. I may be wrong on this, because the frontrunner has changed so many times, but I think it was Michelle Bachmann. A whole lot of you thought she was the perfect candidate, maybe the thinking person’s Sarah Palin, right? But then all that crazy stuff came out about her husband curing gays (which I must admit was probably much funnier to progressives than to you conservatives who think gayness can be cured) and her silly flub about being from John Wayne’s hometown, when in fact it was the hometown of serial killer John Wayne Gacey.
All that aside, however, it has really been her lies that have been most off-putting. (By the way, I have no problem calling a lie a lie, unlike most reporters and journalists out there who seem so reluctant to point them out.) For example, saying that she and her husband had never gotten a penny from her father-in-law’s farm, when in fact, in her financial disclosures, it was obvious that she held an interest in the farm worth between $100,000 and $250,000. Of course, that wasn’t why she lied; she lied because she and her husband received federal crop and disaster subsidies to the tune of about $300,000. No big deal, except that Bachmann and her fellow tea-partiers abhor taking anything from the federal government; it’s a Big No-No. (Well, as it turns out, they all abhor anyone but them, or their state, taking anything from the federal government, but that’s another column!)
Then there were lies about Obama releasing all the oil from the strategic oil reserve, when in fact Obama had released about four percent of the reserves, or that under the Obama administration only one new drilling permit had been issued, when in fact more than 200 had been issued.
But even the lies have paled in comparison to the “just plain stupidity” comments made by Bachmann. They go all the way back to her ridiculous statement that “the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery” (displaying a grasp of history scarily similar to Palin’s) to the HPV vaccine causing mental retardation (because a friend told her that) or her most recent gaffe that she wouldn’t have a U.S. embassy in Iran if she were president, ignoring the fact, or being unaware of it, that we haven’t had one since the 1980s. I’m imagining that this small sampling of her comments that must have turned most of you off, because she soon lost her status as the “darling” to Texas Governor Rick Perry.
And how darling was he? So good looking, with that good hair, cute drawl and twinkle in his eyes, the real man’s Mitt Romney leading the big red state of Texas for so many years. Great employment numbers, super-conservative bona fides . . . he became your instant frontrunner the moment he entered the race.
Of course, those employment numbers were inflated by a combination of incredibly low- wage jobs and jobs created from federal stimulus funds that Perry condemned with his right hand while grabbing for them with his left. But that’s not what derailed Rick. You can call social security a Ponzi scheme, suggest that Ben Bernanke be lynched or say climate change is a phony mess and still hang on fairly easily to the average tea-party voter. In fact, you can announce proudly that your state has executed 234 people and get applause (yes, hoops and hollers of admiration) from a conservative audience.
But Perry’s conservative cred got badly damaged when he actually displayed his heart when dealing with illegal immigrants. That must have really annoyed you; after all, what good conservative can display even a moment of compassion? But what really derailed Perry was all that national TV exposure: the more exposure he got, the dumber he looked, until he began to look as dumb as a rock. (Generally, being dumb as a rock doesn’t in and of itself disqualify a good conservative, but I guess even you guys have a line you won’t cross). Especially when the rock happens to have the “N’ word written on it.
So Perry tanked as quickly as he rose and along came your new frontrunner, Cain. Herman Cain, the tea party’s answer to the accusation that some of your criticism of Obama has been racist. Not possible, you countered; we have Cain, King of Pizza! Now I don’t really know if anyone in the Republican party would have actually supported Cain if it looked like he had a chance of getting the nomination. I mean, I can’t help but believe that no one ever took him seriously. Fact is, he was supremely unqualified . . . very entertaining, but unqualified. My bet is that there was a huge sigh of relief among the majority of you when news of Cain’s various sexual transgressions started coming out. Never mind that he couldn’t answer a question about Libya, because that would have been okay with the tea party. (See Palin, Bachmann and Perry). But the immorality stuff doesn’t fly real well with the family values folk. So, that relieved you of having to deal with the embarrassment of Cain any longer than necessary to prove you’d gladly welcome a black candidate. (And by the way, if I were a conspiracy theorist, which I’m certainly not, I wouldn’t blame the media or the Democrats for the leaks that exposed Cain’s past. Which leaves? Never mind.)
Your latest frontrunner is Newt. That’s right, the ex-speaker of the House whose campaign imploded in its first month, only to be born again, bigger than probably even the egotistical Gingrich could have imagined. Or maybe he took stock of the combined intelligence quotient of the Republican slate and decided to wait it out. I’ll get back to him in a minute, but first I am compelled to address the other candidates, the ones no one seems to think have a shot and the one who may actually get the nomination.
First of all, I feel sorry for Tim Pawlenty, who, had he known what a roller coaster this whole process would be might have hung around a little longer too. But he was cursed with being deemed boring, and that’s about as bad as it gets. Same thing for the still hanging around Hunstman, who seems like the most intelligent of the lot to me, but doesn’t have enough charisma to beat Obama (according to pundits and those of you who respond to polls.) Let’s see. Who else is there? Oh, right, there’s Ron Paul, who really isn’t a Republican so although he has good numbers and a loyal base, he doesn’t really count. (Until the national election, when he could be a viable third-party candidate.) And Rick Santorum, who is as experienced and ultra-conservative as they get, which should be a great tea party combo, except he too is considered boring, plus you just can’t get behind a guy with his last name (google it) without being the butt of way too many jokes to be taken seriously by anybody.
So, that leaves you with Mitt Romney, who has held steady at around 23 percent of the voters. The theme of Mitt’ campaign should be “Why don’t they like me?” Poor guy. The answers to that question could take up another page, so I can’t list them all. His Mormonism WAS the biggest problem, at least with the evangelical right who consider that a cult. His plastic-like personality was another. But lately, his radical changes on major issues have taken center stage. How can the same person be both for and against gun control, climate change, abortion, health care mandates etc., depending on when and where he’s running? This isn’t evolving and changing one’s mind. This is politics of expediency which makes him awfully hard for you to trust. If I were a Republican voter, I certainly wouldn’t.
Which brings me back to Gingrich. Yes, he has the most experience. He’s a true conservative. And he’s definitely not stupid. He may be the best you guys have at the moment. But he has a ton of baggage, including three marriages and an affair (dubious morality) his relationship to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, his flip-flops on some pretty core issues himself and his well-known ego and tendency to self-destruct. He may hold on and take it. But if I were you, I’d be worried about putting him up against Obama.
So I’m back to my original premise, which is jeez . . . is that really the best you can do? There MUST be a truly viable Republican candidate out there you can convince to run, even at this late date. Because otherwise, (and it’s really no skin off my nose because I find it rather amusing, but still) . . . you guys are blowing it big time. Get serious, Republicans!