Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Republican Pantomime Season

There are just five weeks to go before the Republican primary season begins in earnest, though many must feel that the race for the Republican nomination has been going on for a life-time. Things are now getting serious. By the end of January, the race will have slimmed and the real candidates will be in the frame.

Gone will be Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain and John Huntsman. The first two will get the message that this is not a Christmas pantomime and we don’t need a “Widow Twankey” and a “Buttons” character playing the stage for comedic effect – it’s not Puss in Boots. Huntsman, who is the serious candidate and probably the most mindful of the entire cast of characters currently on stage, will not be able to raise the funds to continue.

Other candidates will survive the first act of the drama of the primaries, but will not make the final curtain. Ron Paul, a true conservative and, at 76, the oldest actor on stage, will not make the cut. The media all but ignore him and the judgment of the party overall will be that he could not beat Obama. Rick Perry will last for a time as the character who is both serious, funny and, at times, ridiculous. While he may be a solid Governor of Texas, he is not Presidential material. Never mind not being smart enough to remember his own lines, he doesn’t actually get the plot.

At the front of the stage will be Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, neither of whom will make great Presidents. Newt because he doesn’t know when to stop and think before he speaks (foot in mouth disease strikes him from time to time) and Romney because he flops, flips and flounders. While Romney is younger, smoother and less prone to fluffing his lines, he actually is a dull actor and a poor interpreter of the role. He doesn’t have much to say.

What would be wonderful is if the producers and directors of this drama – the Republican grandees – do what they did with Eisenhower. He was recruited to run part way through the season, since they soon realized that no one on the stage at the time could carry the performance and win an ovation at the end of the play. Then it was clear that Eisenhower was the actor they needed to fill the part no one way playing on stage. Now it is not at all clear who they could turn to. Serious, skillful, successful conservatives are hard to find. It may be time to call Rudi Giuliani, former Mayor of New York, into the theatre and say “want to join us in the third act?”.

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