Daniels out. Pawlenty in. Cain in. Gingrich in… pieces. Bachmann ready to jump. Christie hiding in New Jersey. Palin still on the fence. Romney still spinning. Huntsman still delusional. Johnson, Santorum, Thune, Fiddle and Faddle, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and would somebody please tell Ron Paul to sit down and shut up.
I think that about covers it.
Unfortunately, my boss would have my guts for garters if I handed in such a pithy but descriptive article on what’s happening with the Republican candidates for president as we swing into the last months of “the year before” the primaries and approach the “less than a year” designation. So, I guess I’m going to have to actually work for my bread and explain how the GOP is going to find a presidential candidate in this gaggle of ideologues, kooks, bomb throwers, party traitors, flip-floppers, and non-entities.
Way back when it was “two years before the election” there was a lot of conventional wisdom that said the GOP race would be among Romney, Huckabee, and Palin. Where are we now? Huckabee out. Palin a question mark. And Romney? If he ever stops doing back flips, handstands, and double somersaults to distract us from the fact that he embraces an individual mandate for health insurance, I’ll be sure to ask him.
So much for conventional wisdom.
The problem today is there’s no conventional wisdom to fall back on. There’s absolutely nothing conventional about the GOP field — and as for wisdom, well, that got off the bus years ago. Prudence, probity, frugality, truthfulness — all those civic virtues the Romans believed were necessary for the leadership of a republic are hard to discover when examining this bunch of Republicans.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some of the candidates have a lot on the ball. Herman Cain appears to be an immensely talented man, although why he would want to run for president is a mystery. Sarah Palin is a born politician, although why that would recommend her as chief executive, I am at a loss to say. Newt Gingrich is a very bright fellow who took a wrong turn in life 30 years ago and ended up on the hustings instead of in the classroom where people would have enjoyed his lectures rather than resent them.
There’s not much wrong with Tim Pawlenty. There’s not much right about him either. He is a colorless non-entity — a dollop of vanilla ice cream covered with vanilla frosting. If he ever wore a gray suit, he would blend in with the background. Presidential material he is not.
The Libertarian contingent of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson is the designated comedy relief for the campaign. Count on them to say something so outrageous that even ideologues in the Republican Party have to disavow it. Safe to say, they will be a non-factor except at debates where Paulbots and Johnson Zombies will try to stuff the online ballot boxes in order to give their man a “victory.”
Given the paucity of talent, experience, and ability, the GOP might do better holding a “cattle call” for candidates. They do the same thing on Broadway to cast musical comedies and it seems to work out OK for them. Send out a notice to every agent in the city or simply put an ad in Variety about an open audition and hundreds of starving actors show up with dreams of glory in their heads.
Something similar could be figured out to find a decent GOP presidential candidate. An ad in the National Enquirer ought to bring in a few hundred applicants at least.
Wanted: Candidate to Run for President on the Republican Ticket. Experience in government desirable, but not required. Ability to communicate a must. Should be sensitive to right-wing social issues, hate taxes, despise government spending, and not like Muslims very much. Establishment types need not apply.
Who knows what a “cattle call” like this might drag in. Perhaps a rustic Reagan or some other diamond in the rough that, with a little polishing, a few minutes learning how to use a teleprompter, and some fine tuning, we might get ourselves a winner.