The GOP Pre-Primary Hazing Ritual: Who’s Got Next?

(photo: mr. rollers)

I have bad news for all of you election/schadenfreude junkies out there… like all good things, Newt Gingrich Humiliation Week is drawing to a close.  Yes, there may be a few last sparks from whatever Sunday talkfest Newt is gracing with his presence this weekend, and he’ll continue trudging through the small towns of New Hampshire and other early primary/caucus states next week.  Between the media’s gnat-like attention span and a presumed (if woefully late) improvement in message discipline by Gingrich and his press secretary, though, most of the fun probably has already been had.

The good news, however, is that starting Monday, it will be Tim Pawlenty‘s turn in the barrel… with Michelle Bachmann lining up a possible announcement toward the end of the week, and Jon Huntsman claiming dibs for sometime in June.

It’s downright considerate for the Republican presidential wannabes to present themselves to the public like this — one after the other, close together but evenly spaced like… um, well, like the revolving ducks in a shooting gallery.

Which probably isn’t how they envisioned it, of course.  Given the amount of hubris involved in thinking one has a shot at the White House, the candidates and their staffs likely imagine it as more like scheduling the big opening weekend of a Hollywood movie.  You know, the kind of thing where you want to have the spotlight of public attention all to yourself.

Unfortunately, running for the GOP presidential nod isn’t quite like that.  It means subjecting yourself to the crossfire of multiple litmus tests, struggling to differentiate yourself from your competitors even as you all pander to the same interest groups, practicing your dog-whistle techniques… in short, advertising your unlimited affection for the fiercest lunacies of your party’s base (a group with more collective resentments than common sense) while trying to simultaneously hide it from any sane voters who may be watching.

No wonder it goes so badly for so many of them.

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