Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seven Fake Candidates

I saw some of the fake debate* of the Republican contenders so far. It reminded me of a post I did the last time we went through the election cycle. So here's who you've got on the Republican side so far this time around...Meet the seven fake candidates:

Fake President
Fake smile and fake laughter!
Mitt Romney comported himself like he'd already won, literally acting like he was in charge. I kept hoping someone would turn to him and say "who died and made YOU President?" He's taking the Hillary Clinton path of just assuming he's already got the nomination. Remember how well that worked out for her?

Romney has the superficial qualities of a leader. But he's a shell, missing the internals - the drive and passion to lead. Romney doesn't want to lead, he wants to be President. These are different things. 

Someone truly Presidential wouldn't back away from past successes because they're unpopular now, and wouldn't constantly be trying to figure out what other people want his ideas to be. That's what a consultant would do, and that's what Romney is.

Fake Tough Guy
Tim Pawlenty made an early ad that was mocked for emulating an action movie trailer, with himself as the pseudo-action-hero:

During the debate, Tim Pawlenty proved to be the kind of person who talks smack behind people's backs but denies it and acts all buddy-buddy when confronted by it. In other words, a fake tough guy.

If Pawlenty can't stand up to the relatively unfrightening Mitt Romney, how can he possibly stand up to someone actually frightening like, say, Vladimir Putin? Or Mitch McConnell?

Fake Sarah Palin
Fake backdrop!
Michele Bachmann is a woman. She's got brown hair. She smiles. Midwestern accent. She hangs out with the common people. She's opportunistically hopping on the Tea Party bandwagon. And she's got some crazy, crazy ideas.

In other words, she's a lot like Sarah Palin...but missing Palin's literal and metaphorical killer instinct. 

Pros: Unlike Palin, she will actually serve out her complete elected office terms.

Cons: See above.

Fake Black Guy
I'm not saying Herman Cain is not black. I'm not even saying he's as awkward as Michael Steele when talking to young people or describing himself as "a streets guy". What I am saying is: Dude, you're a Republican. Take a good look around the next time you're hanging out with that crew and think about what they're saying and who they are.

Mr. Cain, it is really disturbing to see you be asked a question about having minorities (in this case Muslims) on your staff and have you answer to the effect that "they ain't all bad, and I wouldn't mind so long as I have one of the GOOD ones, you know what I mean?" We expect that from someone like Trent Lott or Strom Thurmond or Haley Barbour, not you.

Fake New Ideas
I don't know what bothers me more about Newt Gingrich - his cynical self-marketing disguised as a presidential campaign or his great "new" ideas which are a) awful and b) old.

Hearing Newt Gingrich pitch his legislative genius is like watching Aziz Ansari's Tom Haverford character on "Parks and Recreation" brainstorming business opportunities:
  • A baby tuxedo line
  • A department store with a guest list
  • White fur earmuffs for men
  • Contact lenses that display text messages
  • Invent a phone that smells good
  • Replace workers compensation with a rehab program that focuses on retraining people to do whatever they can with whatever they've got left. 
Pro Tip: While it may be "innovative" or "different" to try running a campaign without a campaign staff, it is probably not going to be successful.

On the plus side, if people buy Newt paraphernalia, that's less money they have to spend trying to get one of these clowns actually elected.

On the minus side, since Citizens United passed, this election is more or less officially owned by corporate interests anyhow.

Fake Small Government Guy
Probably fake books.
Rick Santorum likes to say things like "the bigger the government, the more repressed the individual". He is referring to Democrats, who, in his view, are "repressing" your freedoms with things like making sure you can afford healthcare, making sure your peanut butter doesn't contain E. Coli and feces, and presumably, having armed forces (since our government is basically an insurance company with an army).

But Santorum proudly proclaims himself a "social conservative". Social Conservatism isn't about small government. Social Conservatives believe "government has a role in encouraging or enforcing what they consider traditional values or behaviors."

In Santorum's "small government" world, your personal, private, intimate activities get regulated according to what the government considers "traditional" and "moral".

We're talking things like who you can marry (one man, one woman!), when you can have sex (only if married!), how you can have sex (no "sodomy"!),  how you can start or terminate a pregnancy (no premarital or extramarital sex, no abortion!), whether or not you have the right to choose when you die (you don't!), what you can do with your time (no gambling!), what you can watch or read (no porn! only "good" books like the Bible!), and what you can put in your body (no drugs!), and so forth.

If you think that Republicans or government in general should be making those types of decisions for you and everyone else, you want Santorum. He's your Fake Small Government candidate!

Fake Republican
Fake flag!
Ron Paul is a not a "real" Republican. He's a Libertarian. 

Since American politics only has 2 "different" parties, Ron Paul operates under the Republican flag. Because he can't pass as a Democrat, and as a Fake Republican he can get elected.

But he disagrees with the Republicans on a number of their key issues, agrees with Democrats on some of their key issues (which in and of itself gets you booted out of the Republican Yacht Club in 2011), and alienates most of mainstream America when asked about the usual Libertarian "gotcha"controversial topics like prostitution (fer it!), right-to-die (fer it!), gambling (fer it!), marriage equality (fer it!), and helping the needy and less fortunate (agin' it!)

...but sorry, ladies, still no abortion for you! (that might even make him a fake Libertarian...)

In some ways, he's the Anti-Santorum. But that doesn't make him pleasant. It's sort of like having to choose between your steak arriving covered with broken glass or covered with the E. Coli none of these fakers want government to regulate out of our food supply.

So there you have it. Your seven fake candidates so far. Let's see how long they last!

* It's a fake debate because there's no discussion, no back and forth, no argument, no investigation of ideas, and no intellectual challenge. Nobody calls anyone out on poor reasoning or sloppy thinking. It's basically a stilted, boring, utterly predictable interview.

They even had an absurd "This or That?" set of questions. If the questions were inane, the candidates' responses were worse. Most disappointing is the thought that there will be voters out there deciding to vote for or against one of these folks based on the answers they provided here.

Modern televised debates are somewhere between a Japanese tea ceremony and kabuki theater - it's a stylized ritual, and the "thrills", if there are any, come from waiting for some kind of breach of etiquette, a "gaffe", or a bad outfit. We have got to do better, people!

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