It’s a presidential primary as docu-comedy. Some talking jumping beans mount the debate stages and the talk shows and tell us, one after the other, that he or she must be our next president if the Republic is to be saved. Begging the question, from what exactly?
Seriously? Newt Gingrich says Palestinians are an invented people. Rick Perry can’t count to three, but he thinks there are eight Supreme Court justices. Mitt Romney offered a $10,000 bet to Perry during Saturday’s debate. Perry didn’t take the bet. At least Herman Cain now appears to be sticking to something he knows: selling pizza.
Perry’s making an obvious play for the right-wing Christian vote in Iowa with a TV ad that’s says children in public schools can’t celebrate Christmas. He seems to have forgotten that Christmas is, universally, a public school holiday, something that can’t be said for Ramadan or Hanukkah. I’d say that was quite a nice tip of the hat to Christendom by a religiously diverse, secular society.
Of course, in Perry’s mind all of America’s problems will be solved if we will just dishonorably discharge gays from the military. So much for his commitment to jobs.
This is the kind of stuff we get when the ambitious believe authority to be the supreme value. They get giddy. Nothing but power really matters to them. They can say and do anything so long as it advances the cause of their own power. Their clownishness is no obstacle. It gets them attention.
Congressional Republicans have willfully blocked all efforts to improve the economy so they can improve their chances of re-taking the White House in 2012. They are no more committed to controlling the deficit than a regular old basket of jumping beans is. They look foolish, but that’s fine with them.
The Obama presidency has accomplished one thing even detractors must admit: it has pulled back the curtain on the little comic authoritarian that lives inside many contemporary conservatives.
Many years ago George Lakoff wrote of the moral worldviews of conservatives and progressives, noting that we mapped onto politics moral styles of family life. Progressives tend towards an egalitarianism born of empathy and care for one another. Conservatives tend towards the authoritarian, favoring discipline, obedience and hierarchy.
Maintaining authority is the top moral concern of conservatives. Whatever it takes, authority must rule. This has some terrible consequences, of course. One of those consequences is that sooner or later tyrants and would-be tyrants begin to look and act rather batty.
History has seen plenty of kooky tyrants, from Caligula to Idi Amin to Muammar Gaddafi. Lord Acton might have missed something. Power certainly corrupts, and absolutely power certainly corrupts absolutely. But power also seems to fill its lovers with helium. They begin talking funny and eventually float away from the earth.
The 2012 Republican Presidential Primary really should be called the Real Pols of Cuckooville in homage to all those TV shows featuring real housewives and real bounty hunters and real storage locker wars. High definition TV does tend to show more blemishes. But it’s not so much the flat screens of the GOP show. It’s the flat-lined EEG’s of the cast.
There’s never really been anything like this particular political season. It’s making the late comedian Pat Paulsen’s satirical presidential campaigns look sober. Paulsen once said, “I’ve upped my standards. Now up yours.” That’s Ciceronian compared to the mutterings of this year’s GOP field. It’s also exactly what voters should say to these clowns.
It’s so bad I think the mainstream press is actually having some difficulty maintaining their illusion of serious political concern. They had to notice sooner or later that what they thought was a contest about the future of American turns out to be talking beans jumping on their plates.
The scary thing is, one of the Le Goons (pardon) might actually become president. Their inanity doesn’t make their insanity any less dangerous.