Oh, these Republican candidates for president — aren’t they a bunch? I try to tune them out, just to preserve my sanity, but they keep breaking through my defenses, and it’s absolutely painful. How did our country come to such a pass?
First it was Rick Perry who caught my attention with his celebrated inability to remember the third agency of the federal government he would abolish. I didn’t think it was a big deal at first — anyone can have a momentary brain freeze. I have them myself. I go upstairs to get something, and then I forget what it was I wanted, and I stand there like an idiot hoping my wife won’t notice.
But of course forgetting that I wanted my iPod is not the same as forgetting that I was going to abolish a piece of the federal government, and forgetting in one’s bedroom is not the same as forgetting on national television in front of millions of people, even if those people should have something better to do.
That’s what I thought when I read about this little contretemps of his, but then I broke down and watched it myself, on YouTube, and it was hilarious. It went on and on, and poor Rick Perry, the guy who prays for rain and consorts with the farthest-out religious crackpots that Texas has to offer, was stumped on what he himself thought. He didn’t know!
So now we have three reasons to vote against him. Number 1, his prayers for rain don’t get answered. Number 2, in a speech in New Hampshire he sounded like a junior-high goof-off carrying on in front of the yearbook club. And Number 3 ... let’s see, what’s Number 3? Oops, I can’t think of it right now.
That, of course, became the standard joke. Every comic in the country was right away positing three somethings and then not being able to remember the third one.
Then it was Herman “Hot Slice” Cain, accused first by one woman and then by another of groping and grabbing and being “inappropriate,” as mush-talk has it, all of which he flat-out denied in the manner of Clarence Thomas denying the allegations of Anita Hill — never happened, don’t know anything about it — until he started to remember just a little and then a little more.
Yes, Herman Cain, whose great contribution to the national weal up to this point had been the invention of the “hot slice” for Godfather’s Pizza, which helped bring that chain back to profitability.
So he was a joke, too, and an embarrassing one. A hard-nosed businessman who couldn’t control his own libido and apparently lied about it.
And then what? Then he got interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on videotape, and got asked an innocent little question about Libya, and — oh, no! — another blank for another candidate.
Libya? Um, well, let’s see. That’s in Australia, right?
It was painful to watch, and like Perry’s brain-freeze, it went on and on.
Where do these guys come from who have absolutely nothing to recommend them as presidential material except the required ideology? They hate government, they love business, they love Jesus, and that’s about it.
Look at Michelle Bachmann, another beauty, an alumna of the now-defunct law school at Oral Roberts University, founded by and named for one of the tawdriest hucksters ever to work the Bible circuit. Yes, a law school whose stated mission was to “restore law to its historical roots in the Bible,” thereby demonstrating ignorance of both the law and the Bible. (Imagine looking for the roots of either civil or criminal law in ancient Hebrew taboos, or in the Sermon on the Mount, for that matter.)
Or look at Mitt Romney — a Mormon! I know there’s not supposed to be a religious test for public office, per Article 6 of the Constitution, but there is one anyway. You have to believe, or least pretend to believe, there’s an invisible man up in the sky who cares about us, or you wouldn’t have a chance.
But even beyond that, you have to be conventionally religious, and Mormonism is anything but conventional. The more roostery of Christian evangelicals, like Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, who endorsed Perry, say it isn’t even Christianity, it’s a cult. All those golden tablets and ersatz angels and phony-baloney lost tribes and magic underwear.
Can you imagine the president of the United States wearing magic underwear, so-called temple garments, to ward off evil? You can imagine him making the sign of the cross to keep the devil at bay, or wearing a yarmulke, or even talking in tongues, perhaps, but a secret suit of sawed-off longjohns?
And then, finally, there was Newt Gingrich, Mr. Conservative himself, the great bulwark against big government — and he looks like a bulwark, doesn’t he? — defender of family values, who was carrying on an extra-marital affair at the same time he was denouncing Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky business.
What was he up to this time? Well, if you didn’t hear it the first time around, you won’t believe it, but Mr. Conservative was on the payroll of that great bugbear of American conservatism, the government-supported mortgage lender Freddie Mac. Yes, to the tune of between $1.6 million and $1.8 million, as reported by Bloomberg.
Can you believe it? The party line is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the great economic collapse we have experienced, which is how conservatives divert attention from the plundering and profiteering of the big Wall Street banks with which they forever snuggle.
It wasn’t the free market run amok, they say. It was the distortion of the free market perpetrated by those Democrat-backed mortgage lenders trying to make homeowners out of hopeless low-lifes. That’s what caused the collapse.
And now it turns out that Mr. Conservative was in on it.
I won’t even mention Ron Paul, the kookier-than-thou candidate whose animosity toward government does not end with taxes and welfare but also extends to the torture of prisoners, which other Jesus-praising conservatives happily support.
He’s too lurchy to keep in step with this field, I estimate.
But tell me, how did it happen that what used to be called the lunatic fringe is now the mainstream? That’s what I don’t understand.
And one more thing: Did you notice that the guy who fired an assault rifle at the White House the other day declared that President Obama was the anti-Christ and that’s why he wanted to kill him?
Ha-ha, you say, another lunatic.
But whether Obama is the anti-Christ is a question that the lovable Glenn Beck asked Texas preacher John Hagee (endorser of presidential candidate John McCain) on his television show when Obama was elected.
It’s a lively question on the crackpot right, which gets much of its inspiration from the Book of Revelation, and you can take what comfort you may from Hagee’s having answered Beck that there was “no chance.”