Saturday, January 28, 2012

Send in the clowns

OK, it is not a strange at this point to hear the words circus and Republican primaries in the same sentence.

There was Herman Cain in his clown shoes, Rick Perry and jokes about his misstatements, Newt Gingrich and his amazing human canon ball act (I read that on an editorial online – I cannot do better) and Mitt Romney and his high wire juggling. Of course, as of writing this, with the exception of Romney and Gingrich, the others seem to have fallen by the wayside. In theory, Ron Paul is still in the race, but where is he? Santorum announced earlier today that he has no plans to end his campaign, but… he was going back home to Pennsylvania to do his taxes this weekend… In the middle of a campaign… are you serious? Well, I guess, if your campaign isn’t going anywhere, you might as well go home and do your taxes!

Unless… that was a sly reference to Romney – and his tax woes!

If there was any time this primary season Romney seemed off script, it was on the tax issue. First there was the refusal to release his return – he dropped the ball on that one. Then there was the faux pas of earning “little in speaking fees,” all little of $300,000 plus – another ball down. And then, there was the issue of paying taxes at the rate of 14% - man overboard, I should say! Of course, Gingrich got the best of that deal heading into the South Carolina primaries. He clearly came off smelling likes roses. He looked good in the debates and obviously did well at the polls.

The stars seemed to all align themselves just perfectly for the Newt! Romney’s fumble… and then the clowning performance of Juan Williams (Fox) and John King (CNN) just served to wind up the former House speaker. Williams’ charge of racism and King’s bringing up the ex-wife’s charges against Gingrich were clearly not objective and the debates offered him the perfect platform to blast them from. The former speaker realizing that lambasting the media scored points with the audience pushed his advantage the rest of the evening.

The entertainment value aside, this is the weakest slate presented by the Republican Party in my memory. I realize that the rise of the Tea Party and the din of partisan politics have made this all but inevitable, but I still think the party can offer better choices -- candidates who might have made for much more serious contenders come November. While not my personal choice, I think, certain high profile leaders from Florida and New Jersey would have been much more winnable choices on the Republican ballot. While there is much to be said about the party discipline of Republican voters, I cannot think of any among the present crop garnering a clear majority of unquestioned support from within the ranks of their own party. Throw a third party candidate into this mix and it could be even worse for Republicans.

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