As a veteran political reporter I’m always excited for the Republican presidential primaries. You like candy, right? The bright packaging and sugar rush. Let us say you combined the candy of Halloween and Easter, and threw in some edible underwear from Valentine’s Day. That’s a lot of candy, sweetness. Then instead of a kid in a candy store you had a bunch of meth-addled armed guerrillas in a candy store. And then you changed that word from CANDY to CRAZY. Then you have the Republican primaries.

The primaries for nomination against an incumbent make 2012 even sweeter. True, the bloodsport of 2008 was delicious in its gladiatorial rage, but ultimately the Democratic primaries are a little boring. You have a bunch of stiff suits, all terrified that they’ll be painted as more liberal than Dennis Kucinich, plus Dennis Kucinich, whom I want to run for president every year because of his hot, hot wife.

There is no crazy in the liberal wing of Democratic presidential candidates to compare to the sheer asinine conservatism of Ayn Rand acolytes you’ll find among the Republican candidates. If you don’t believe me then point out one mainstream Democratic candidate in the last twenty years who a) is an atheist, b) promised to completely dismantle the Department of Defense and the armed forces, c) wants to raise the capital gains tax to 95% (the Eisenhower threshold) d) will strip tax-exempt status from all religious organizations AND e) supports fully equal gay marriage and adoption. There certainly politicians this liberal, Bernie Saunders, I’m looking at you, but they don’t run for President.

But when the Republicans run they want you to see the crazy. In the name of placating the base they hide nothing, and they all position themselves to out-crazy the guy before them. The spectrum looks something like this:

Candidate One: I am against abortion.
Candidate Two: I am against abortion even in the case of rape and incest.
Candidate Three: I believe incest should be legal like it is in my home state.
Candidate Four: I believe we should allow people to take loaded, concealed weapons to town hall meetings while we debate these issues.
Candidate Five: Why are we letting these liberals in Warshington prevent me from finding a mate, clubbing her unconscious and dragging her back to my cave by her hair?

These people won’t last very long in the process, and have almost no hope of being elected. I’m not predicting an Obama reelection because of the death of Osama Bin Laden – remember George H W Bush kicked the crap out of Noriega AND Saddam Hussein but lost in 1992 because of the economy and Ross Perot? But since the economy is slowly improving I imagine Obama will win a tight reelection, though the Dems in the Senate will get their august asses handed to them.

Most of the possible Republican presidential candidates aren’t really running for President. They are running for the position of Fox News Talk Show host. Since these candidates will not be around for ever, because they’ll run out of money and their passes out of the asylum will expire, so I’d like to preview my total fascination of the awesome and totally unhinged lunatic fringe that appeared in South Carolina for the first Fox News Presidential Debate.

Rick Santorum
Rick, I’m so glad you’re going to be in the news again. Actually, can I call you Dick? It’s better than what Dan Savage calls you (NSFW but OMFG LOL). Dick’s a member of the arch conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, which Dan Brown made look like a bunch of cub scouts in the DaVinci Code, he happily equates homosexuality with incest AND he possibly plagiarized a Langston Hughes poem for his campaign slogan.

A gem of a line came this winter, when Santorum described he didn’t understand President Obama’s position on abortion: “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, ‘we’re going to decide who are people and who are not people.'”

Because I’m a racist who is secretly inside the brain of black people, like Mel Gibson in What Women Want.

He also takes a firm position on entitlements: “Close your eyes, like you’re listening to a drug dealer outside a school yard. They see entitlements as a way to make you dependent, weaker, less of a person than you are, drugging you into submission to a government who promises a high to take care of you.”

Santorum home-schools his seven children and thinks that he is entitled to government vouchers. Fair enough.

Ron Paul
Last year in Tennessee, a local fire department sat and watched as a family’s home burned to the ground, because mom and dad hadn’t paid the annual fee to pay for the local fire department. This is the libertarian dream. Libertarians are a fantasy baseball team with all sorts of unintended consequences. Sure they’ll legalize weed, but you wouldn’t be able to drive to your dealer’s house because the government will stop building roads.

Here’s one of Congressman Paul’s quotes:

“The most basic principle to being a free American is the notion that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions. We do not have the right to rob our neighbors to make up for our mistakes, neither does our neighbor have any right to tell us how to live, so long as we aren’t infringing on their rights. Freedom to make bad decisions is inherent in the freedom to make good ones. If we are only free to make good decisions, we are not really free.”

Which makes sense that he’s pro-life, because you aren’t really free until you give the government the freedom to make your choices for you. Freely.

Herman Cain
This is a black Republican businessman who was happy to be on stage in a state where they still fly the Confederate flag over the statehouse. Also, according to this Fox News screenshot, his birthplace is “Republican,” which should clear up any problems people might have with his birth certificate, which is bound to come up if you’re a black man running for national office.

Gary Johnson
He’s a libertarian, former governor of New Mexico who climbed Mount Everest and is for legalization of marijuana. So he’s like Ron Paul, but with no name recognition. Don’t expect him to ascend Mount Rushmore anytime soon.

Tim Pawlenty
Pawlenty was the only A-list candidate to appear for the South Carolina debate. He is the Mitt Romney of Minnesota, that is the boring right-of-center Republican who isn’t a Mormon former governor of the most liberal state in the universe. This should take him far. Tim is your typical conservative: against Obamacare, pro-life, pro-defense, blah blah blah wake me up when he runs out of money.

He also calls himself T-paw, which is what you get when you cross a rapper with a squirrel.

The No-Shows

Several prominent names are missing from the debate. They are often called “likely front runners,” “presumptive front runners,” or, in the case of Newt Gingrich, “a festering sore.” They want to watch the back bench tear each other apart from a safe distance.

Michele Bachmann
You might say that Sarah Palin is the thinking man’s Michele Bachmann. Let that sink into your brain. Then cry, then vomit, then cry again.

She makes Sarah Palin look like Hillary Clinton. If you search her online, you are going to get a whopping number of hits for “Craziest things Michele Bachmann ever said.” And those quotes won’t necessarily overlap.

Bachmann is as close as you can to winning the trifecta of conservative values: Tea Party darling, Birther, and Biblical fundamentalist:

“So, I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I’m not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.”

The Presidency is a demanding job, that’s for sure. But does it require a deep thinker?

Sarah Palin
Plenty of ink has been shed on behalf of Sarah Palin. Remember: just because her daughter, an unwed teen mother, has received over a quarter of a million dollars to speak about abstinence, does not mean you get to talk about her family. The family that regularly appeared on her reality show. About her family.

Donald Trump

The Donald’s most serious success is that he’s gotten the state of Hawaii to produce the President’s long form birth certificate, both confirming what most regular people believed and taking away ammunition from the Birther fringe.

The problem with Trump is he’s a flip-flopper. First he was going to run an Indy 500 pace car, now he isn’t? First you’re for dangerously fast death traps and now you’re against them?

Newt Gingrich
Newt is a lot like my step-father*: he hasn’t had a new idea since before there was an Internet. I give Newt credit for serving his first wife divorce papers while she was hospitalized for cancer, but people have been pulling that stunt forever.

*totally kidding Mom!

Mitt Romney
Aside from the fact that he’s hysterically running away from his record, having created in Massachusetts a working, successful model for Obamacare, on the stump in 2008 he bolstered his conservative cred with a story about being on a road trip and strapping his dog’s cage to the roof of his car for twelve hours, where the panicked animal repeatedly soiled itself, obviously pandering to Michael Vick fans.

I don’t wish to discount Mitt Romney’s chances but no matter how hard he tacks to the right, the evangelical Christian base of the Republican party isn’t going to go for a guy who believes in an angel called Moroni. It sounds so… ethnic?

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G. XAVIER ROBILLARD is a comedy writer, performer and novelist. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, Comedy Central and on NPR. Robillard is the author of the comic novel Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth, Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves (Harper Collins), and producer/writer/performer of the comedy album G is for Gangsta. You may entertain yourself with more of him at All Day Coffee and on Twitter.

28 responses to “Blood in the Sand: the 2012 Republican Primary Candidates”

  1. Caleb Powell says:

    Very funny. Where’s Huckabee? He’s always good for a laugh.

    Bring on 2012.

    • I was going to mention Huckabee but I ran out of room. I think he’s actually not serious about 2012, but I can’t confirm. Plus I like him. I can’t explain why. He just seems like the kind of whack job I’d really like to have a beer with.

      • Caleb Powell says:

        Yeah, Huckabee’s likable, a lot of these guys might be good company, even George Bush might be worth a round. Heck, my dad’s politics make Limbaugh’s seem liberal, but I can hang with my dad.

  2. Art Edwards says:

    “Most of the possible Republican presidential candidates aren’t really running for President. They are running for the position of Fox News Talk Show host.”

    Yes, the flip side of actually getting on television as a presidential candidate is pretty sweet. I call it the Sharpton Method.

  3. Art Edwards says:

    “Most of the possible Republican presidential candidates aren’t really running for President. They are running for the position of Fox News Talk Show host.”

    Yes, the flip side of actually getting on television as a presidential candidate is pretty sweet. I call it the Sharpton Ascension.

  4. Gloria says:

    I just had to Google “Dennis Kucinich wife.” Holy mackerel. She’s foxy!

  5. Greg Olear says:

    Nice round-up.

    By the fall of 2012, the economy will be much improved, both (all three?) wars should be winding down, taxes will still not be increased for most Americans, and Osama Bin Laden will still be dead.

    They don’t have a prayer, and they know it, which is why anyone who might actually win (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush) is waiting this one out. In 2012, the Republican John Kerry will run. I thought it’d be Mitt, but he’s done now, apparently.

  6. Stock in tinfoil hats soared when this debate began.

  7. The upside of a likely Obama win does indeed also mean the downside of the GOP floating one of its loopier candidates as a sacrificial lamb, making for another year and a half of listening to Obama field more questions about Bill Ayers and whether or not a fist bump means he drinks goat’s blood.

    But I hear that Cain performed well in the debate thanks to his “straight talk,” there’s a phrase any Republican should snatch up and run with.

  8. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    Thanks for that line-up. Hard to get excited, though. As to Presidential debates, Trump and Palin make for the best reality-TV, but the specter of one of them really winning…

  9. Zara Potts says:

    Excellent read!
    Very funny in a awfully scary way.
    People really are nutbars, aren’t they?
    Particularly politicians…

  10. What!? I thought the “stop the socialist fire departments” movement was a joke! It’s not a joke?

    I’d comment further on this hilarious (and scary) run-down, but I’m taking Pillow’s unstated suggestion and twisting my tinfoil hat into shape … right … now ….

    • The fire department story in Tennessee shows the very best of libertarianism. Because of course the people next door had paid their fire department subscription, but with the ultimate poetic metaphor describing the interconnected nature of society, their house caught fire anyway.

  11. dwoz says:

    Libertarians are like your co-worker that goes out to the pub after work on friday, pours from the pitchers himself, but doesn’t want to buy a pitcher himself.

    Imagine being that neighbor of the guy who hadn’t paid his fire dept surcharge, standing there watching his neighbor’s house burn.

    I wonder if he thought of maybe starting a bucket brigade or perhaps turning on his garden hose?

  12. This was absolutely hilarious. I love your criteria for Republican candidates. It’s true, and it’s probably why Trump is so popular right now. I was reading an article a couple of days ago that basically claimed that the reason he’s so popular is that he’s saying all the things Republicans want to say, but which some are even too afraid to say. Which is scary if true.

  13. I SO enjoyed this piece. Except the part about Michele Bachmann, where I was crying, then vomiting, then crying again. Actually, that’s a lie, all ten frontrunners listed in the Republican Traveling Carnival of Dumbf***ery made me a little teary and throw-up-y. A+ piece, dude.

  14. dwoz says:

    Today is the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby.

    If these republicans were horses, running the Derby, we’d be seeing a pack of braying donkeys, with feed bags strapped on their noses, being whipped by bankers, chasing a long-shot bay stallion and eating his dust.

  15. Paul Clayton says:

    In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Two Minutes’ Hate is a daily period in which Party members of the society of Oceania must watch a film depicting The Party’s enemies… and express their hatred for them and the principles of democracy. – this from Wikepedia (don’t want to thumb through my novel). Anyway, Party on!

  16. “plus Dennis Kucinich, whom I want to run for president every year because of his hot, hot wife.”

    Heh.

    Well-played, Robillard.

  17. Mark Russell says:

    I don’t think you’re qualified to run for President as a Republican until you have completed at least one full season of a reality TV show.

  18. Rachel Selin says:

    hysterical, Greg. I think I wanna get all my political news from you now on.

  19. Richard Cox says:

    This is hilarious. You funny man, Robillard.

    I also Googled pictures of Dennis Kucinich wife. In any photograph where they’re standing side by side, he looks like a ventriloquist doll.

  20. I got people to Google Elizabeth Kucinich. I’d say my work is done here but hey: due to your overwhelming wonderful feedback I think I’m going to make this a recurring column… Stay tuned.

  21. […] Since we last met there have been some minor changes to the field. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are definitely in, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump are out. […]

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