Not to be confused with, say, “deer season” or “duck season”, the flopping open of the great 2012 A.D. calendar prompts the quadrennial U.S. cultural extravaganza known as the “presidential campaign season”. Of course there are other bi-annual national elections for various House seats and that portion of the Senate who take time out from counting their money to stand for re-election every six years (sexennially; I’m not making this up) but these off-year election cycles are clearly the minor leagues, Ted Turner’s Goodwill Games as compared to the Olympics.
This year, the Democrats have a qualified incumbent running for President so there is no need for a Democratic presidential primary. There is, however, still a question of the President’s qualification to run because of continuing uncertainty regarding his place of birth. This embarrassing situation has prompted ballot challenges in at least six states by those uncertain citizen known as “birthers” (these folks are the primary source of the embarrassment). I am proud to report that Georgia is one of those states where a ballot challenge has been filed. Can Kansas be far behind?
Notwithstanding this birther caveat, it is only the Republican Party that is treating its members and the remainder of the country to the spectacle of a presidential primary. Already, and 2012 is barely a month old and still in those adorable diapers, the Republicans have asked their party members in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and now Nevada to vote on who should be their standard-bearer come November.
The process, and it’s been in all the papers, has been grueling, some would say vicious even. I’m not one of those people. No, I’m one of those people who call the process entertaining and, more importantly, fodder.
To date, many of the initial entrants into the contest have succumbed to the primary campaign meat-grinder. These also-rans lost their individual mojos by revealing quirks, weaknesses, delusions, paranoia, lack of money, comb-overs and, in the case of Herman Cain, his 9-9-9 (although a woman in north Atlanta disputes these numbers).
Lest we forgets these brave but fallen aspirants to the presidency, bless their hearts, here they are for you to recall and perhaps lament. Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, the aforementioned Mr. Cain, Buddy Roemer, Fred Karger, Tim Pawlenty, Gary Johnson and several members of the Harlem Globetrotters.* I think that we can all agree that what this group may have lacked in quality was hedged with quantity.
The remaining four candidates are locked in a ideological battle for the hearts and some would claim the minds of the Republican party. At this early stage, the front-runner is Willard Mitt Romney. Willard chooses to be known as “Mitt” so as not to be confused with any fat weathermen in the main stream media. The Republicans hate the main stream media. Legend has it that Mr. Romney’s father chose his son’s middle name in honor of his favorite piece of sports equipment. This often happens among Mormons as it was said to be written in their sacred texts, which are buried somewhere in Missouri, so no one really knows for sure. Anyway, “Mitt” is way better than “Protective Cup” so it could be worse.
Trailing Mr. Romney, and none too happy about it, is Gingrich the Newt. This candidate first emerged from the primordial ooze of Georgia politics in 1978 when he finally, after several failed attempts, won a congressional house seat and went to Washington to “kick ass and take names”. Since that time, the Newt has single-handedly given an otherwise pleasant and non-threatening amphibian a terrible reputation. Even other slimy and disgusting pond dwellers now shun newts in ponds nationwide and many innocent newts are dependent on anti-depressants. Gingrich the Newt considers himself an intellectual, a “grandiose thinker”, the “Churchill of our time” and claims that he can run a 9.4 100 meters if “Mitt would just get out of the way”. Those closest to the Newt are somewhat concerned that he may actually explode during future debates as his ego has a self-priming but not well-regulated pump.
Also still in the race, but with what Texans would call a piss-poor chance, are Ron Paul and Rick Santorum . Mr. Paul, a Texas libertarian, is thrashing around inside the Republican primaries in hopes that he can corner enough delegates to force the eventual nominee to include a return to the gold standard in the party’s platform. Mr. Paul appears to be the Ralph Nader of the Republican process. His eventual legacy, if the whole gold standard deal falls through, may be his son, Senator Rand Paul, whose economic ideology is a direct result of being named after Ayn Rand, one of the 2oth century’s certifiably libertarian authors who eventually accepted Social Security and Medicare benefits just to chap-off her fans.
Rick Santorum has (so far) based his candidacy on appealing to “common men”, those who routinely wear sweater vests. Apparently this strategy has failed to ignite the targeted electorate and in the remaining caucuses and primaries Mr. Santorum is rumored to be considering an appeal to those millions of Americans who still have a “used-only-once” fondu pot in the front hall closet. This, I think, is a far superior strategy. It is clear, however, that Mr. Santorum cannot count on garnering votes from that subset of Americans whom he lumps together: gays, lesbians and those (mostly men) who prefer the intimate company of farm animals.
Reviewing the roster of recent and current Republican candidates, I can’t help but imagine how proud their former party leaders would have been with such a unique collection. I can envision a small caucus, including Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, Earl Warren, Dwight Eisenhower and Margaret Chase Smith, peering down from God’s private balcony, their hearts swelling with pride. Well, maybe not “swelling”. Experiencing arrhythmia would probably be a better description. Although, even that is often just acute indigestion.
*No Harlem Globetrotters have actually entered the Republican primaries. This is a standard “cheap shot” exaggeration, frequently used by writers to break up the monotony of writing about politics and politicians. It was first used by Mark Twain which makes the practice O.K.
Observoid of the Day: The face of a candidate can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.