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Buggins of the GOP

Why are Americans so sure President Obama can’t get re-elected?

When I look at how the Republican Party is going about retaking the White House next year, I wonder how Obama can possibly lose.

The Grand Old Party’s presidential candidates may be philosophically a diverse bunch but they all share a singular characteristic: they all appear to be devotees of Mr. Buggins.  Like Buggins, they take turns.  Each steps forward in turn to Save The Party and each finds a new way to crash and burn.  Some crashed and burned even before we got to know them.  Others waited until they’d scared us half to death before plunging in flames.   

This week’s champion political flamer is Herman Cain, a straight-talking pizza-parlour millionaire, and until last week the very surprising front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination.  Having achieved this lofty status, he promptly came up with some madcap ‘economic master-plan’ based on the three nines: a nine percent income tax, a nine percent sales tax and…. well I seem to have forgotten the third one.  If the scheme had any merit at all it was to lead people to believe that Cain might be, if nothing else, an Innovative Thinker, a New Man and a New Broom.  Any such notions were dashed when a ten-year old sexual harassment allegation started making the rounds.   Cain immediately set out to prove that he’s just a regular politico after all, first by covering up the story, and then trying to cover up the cover-up.  When that didn’t work he reverted to that old standby, dirty play by his rivals. 

Before Cain there was Rick Perry.  The Texas governor, a big man with a big personality, a shit-kicking huckster from America’s biggest state, burst onto the scene as the man to rescue the GOP from Mitt Romney, his Massachusetts counterpart, a dull fellow hamstrung on the right of the party by his approval of a state health plan and on the left by his adherence to one of the nuttier religions, Mormonism.  Perry’s problem was that, in making Romney seem pedestrian, he merely made himself seem flash.  It didn’t help that, under scrutiny, his knowledge of geography and world history proved to be, shall we say, sparse.        

And preceding Perry there was Michele Bachmann.  Michele who?   You remember her – the pint-sized evangelical, gay-busting darling of the Tea Party movement.  Michele didn’t so much crash and burn as drop off the radar screen, without trace, a kind of political Amelia Earheart.  Michele, apparently like Amelia, was uncertain where things were in the world.  She didn’t know Libya was in Africa.    

The only other party stalwarts with a following of sorts, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and Governor What’s-His-Name of New Jersey, wisely declined to follow their colleagues in self-immolation.   

The party debates continue, and a standard-bearer may yet emerge.  There are other candidates, though I can’t for the life of me remember their names.  And to date, far from providing a forum for a potential nominee, the debates have proved to be a fatal obstacle course for the unwary.  Actually, for the unqualified.

Obama’s critics say he hasn’t lost enough sleep worrying about the economy.  Right now there isn’t much reason to lose it over the Republican Party.  

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