Okay, then, the presidential election. It’s only a year away, after all.
Let’s start with the Republicans, who are ever so much more fun than the dour Democrats. (They’re next.)
Remember when Republicans were dour? This was back when there was an actual Republican Party, everyone wanted to be Speaker of the House, and Republicans cared most passionately about small taxes, big armies, plus lots of taxpayer subsidies for big business. Things seemed so much simpler then. Admittedly, when Republican lawmakers embraced theism and magical thinking as strategies for governing, politics perked right up.
A bedazzling group of Republicans have selflessly presented themselves for our inspection. Yet when a party fields this many contenders, you’re entitled to wonder if it really has an electable candidate. To sort themselves out, the candidates must clarify what they’re against.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the first prominent casualty, was against unions. (On the plus side, he did seem to support building the Great Wall of Canada.)
You might think Walker dropped out because it dawned on him that making war on workers isn’t likely to resonate as a campaign strategy in a nation where most voters’ wages have stagnated. Wrong. Walker quit because this purported fiscal conservative was profligate with his campaign funds. Oh, never mind.
Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon with an inspiring personal story, reminds us why we mustn’t mistake medical skill for political competence.
Carson’s against Medicare, gun control and Obamacare — “… the worst thing to happen in this nation since slavery,” says he. A denier of human-caused climate change, Carson credits Satan with our understanding of evolution. Alas, when this soft-spoken surgeon opened his mouth on the public stage, out popped an excellent imitation of an ignorant bigot with an alarmingly shaky grasp of science, history, politics and laws of the land. Oops.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, an earnest libertarian, ophthalmologist and Tea Party co-founder, is against the Patriot Act. He toils in the Senate against over-reaching government surveillance of me and thee. Stay the course.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was once the most egotistical blowhard in the race. He’s against increasing the minimum wage, Black Lives Matter and … ummm, well … pigs. He vetoed a measure favored by most of his constituents to ban cruel, cramped gestation cages for pregnant pigs imprisoned in New Jersey’s industrial piggeries. Toughie!
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is a well-spoken Cuban American who has falsely claimed his parents fled Castro’s Cuba. Also a denier of human-caused climate change, he’s against Roe vs. Wade, Obamacare and background checks for gun purchasers but reportedly favors immigration reform. Picture the cherubic Rubio going mano-a-mano against Vladimir Putin, people. More seasoning, please.
Carly Fiorina opposes Planned Parenthood. She speaks crisply, to far better effect than the male candidates, though with glaring indifference to facts, as befits the ardent self-promoter and marketer she is.
Fiorina was the first woman to head a Fortune 500 corporation. But the company she led tanked, 30,000 workers were laid off and she was fired. Then she reportedly refused to pay struggling small business vendors to whom she owed thousands of dollars after her subsequent failed U.S. Senate campaign — though she did repay loans to herself. Nice.
Isn’t former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush supposed to be the smart brother? Hello? Say what? It’s hard to grasp what Bush really is against, “for crying out loud.” Maybe he’s more coherent in Spanish?
Billionaire Donald Trump is against losers, Mexicans and ugly women. His fact-free candidacy is laughable. If you can’t govern your mouth, you cannot govern the country. But this infantile, narcissistic buffoon’s free-floating insults make you wonder: Is Trump afflicted with some undiagnosed personality disorder? Or was he sent here by space aliens to show us that democracy is doomed to failure?
Trump’s campaign is about one thing only: how much smarter he is than you. The Ugly American poster boy, Trump’s unfettered, delusional self-regard has turned his American Dream into our American Nightmare.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas bears close watching. Born in Canada — with, ahem, dual citizenship — he has an impressive resume: magna cum laude Harvard law school grad, clerk to Chief U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, stints at the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department, skilled debater, splendid record of wins as a litigator before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The most strategically cunning of the lot, Cruz, like Trump, also spouts hyperbolic nonsense to get attention. A zealous anti-government demagogue, Cruz is adamantly against the basic requirement for any democracy: compromise. He’s widely reviled by Republican colleagues for self-aggrandizing stunts such as trying to shut down the government. Sen. John McCain calls him a “wacko-bird,” Speaker of the House John Boehner calls him “a jackass.” I’ll settle for anarchist.
Still piteously clamoring for attention are Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal and John Kasich.
My favorite? Sen. Lindsey Graham, the irascible hawk from South Carolina. He’s against the Tea Party. He argues that political parties have to work together if the United States is to remain a functioning democracy. Duh!
Among the first things Graham will do when president? Get together with the opposition for an adult beverage. “We’re going to drink more,” he promises.
I’ll drink to that. We’ll need all the drinks we can get.
Solveig Torvik, former Washington, D.C., political correspondent for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, lives in Winthrop.