Monday, November 14, 2011

Confederacy of Dunces

I have a premise. I’ve spent months working on it while riveted to the television and internet, watching the 2012 Presidential campaign develop like an origami snake - one pointed crease and sharp fold at a time.

I’m certainly not the first person to ask themselves what vicious trick Fortuna is playing on us now. It can’t just be me who watches these GOP debates and thinks that scraping the bottom of the Republican barrel doesn’t even come close to describing what we are witnessing as a Nation.

I cringe when I imagine what the world at large thinks of the line-up of Unusual Suspects vying to be President of the United States. It’s that same feeling I had every time George W. Bush came out to the podium to speak during his two terms in office. I wasn’t sure what gaffe he would commit next, how many times in one conversation he’d mispronounce the word ‘nuclear’ and on which foreign land he’d declare war next. I just knew that anything was possible and I spent eight years popping Tums.

He seemed, to me, a shelter puppy who'd suddenly found himself in a new home with lots of carpet to pee on; wide-eyed, shocked to be there, and ready to rip into a juicy bone. Good thing for him he had multiple puppet-masters like Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney - who clearly played the part of middle finger.

I’ve had to break out the chewable antacid pills again as I ponder the current crop of GOP contenders and consider the possibility that one of them could eventually become President of the United States.

Consider Rick Perry: from his disturbing and seemingly drunken, rambling speech in New Hampshire, to his debate performance in Michigan where he drew a blank while trying to name the third federal agency he would abolish if elected president. It was painful to watch. I felt sorry for the guy, but I’m sure pity isn’t the emotion he was going for. Just trying to imagine this guy in talks with foreign officials gives me heart palpitations.

Then there’s Herman Cain; the King of the ridiculous 9-9-9 plan that would assure the top 1% will continue to benefit while the rest of us 99%’ers would be pushed further to the bottom of the pile. Now the former pizza magnate and motivational speaker - who is backed by the strong arm of the Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity - is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. But despite the drip, drip, drip of accusers, Herman continues to operate from atop a pedestal of righteous indignation.

I’m going to skip right over Ron Paul and Rick Santorum because while Ron has that crazy Grandpappy vibe and I sort of enjoy him, Rick is so far to the right he’s almost invisible at this point. There’s no way in Hades either of these guys will get anywhere close to being the nominee and they both know it. It seems they’re just there for the free food in the many media green room pit-stops. Or perhaps they both enjoy hearing themselves speak.

I can think of no other reasonable explanation for them continuing to travel the country, flushing contributor dollars down the toilet by the fist-full. My suggestion to both of them is to throw in the towel and donate the rest of the cash in their coffers to their favorite charities. It would do far more good in the grand scheme of things.

Michelle Bachmann continually rails against entitlements and big government, but she and her family have benefited greatly from land subsidies and federal monies for her business. That is disingenuous at best... insidious at worst. And consider this statement: “Our nation needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves. Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat.”

I wonder what she’d say to one of her constituents who relies on food stamps as the only thing standing between him and starvation because he was laid off a year ago and cannot find a job in this economy. Ditto the other 13.9 million people like him, all trying to scoop water off the bow of the Titanic with soup spoons.

I further wonder why nobody has the cahones to publicly call her on this statement. At not one of these debates do the moderators seem intent on actually holding these debaters feet to the fire. Repeatedly, the GOP contenders are asked a question and repeatedly they do not answer that question, but circle around to their talking point of the day, which invariably begins with them waxing poetic about feeling our collective pain regarding the economic disaster and massive job loss, and ending with Obama’s failed policies being the cause of it all. No mention, of course, of how that pile of guano ended up on the President’s desk in the first place. Nor have any of them suggested that the GOP stranglehold via their Congressional amigos might have something to do with our inability to rectify the jobs situation.

Why are these debate moderators and media pundits not asking direct questions and demanding they get a direct answers? At this point the word debate has become a joke, along with most of the media coverage - and all one has to do to see that is spend a little time on Twitter, Facebook, and any number of social networking sites and blogs.

The general consensus: there is no debate going on. It’s a recurring sideshow-esque reality show featuring actors with virtually no accountability - and in some cases, no conscience.

But the sideshow continues…

Newt Gingrich and Mitt “Flip Flop” Romney appear to be the least problematic of the bunch, politically speaking, though neither of these men meet with anything other than tepid reactions from possible voters, pundits, and their own GOP party members. Probably because they’ve both been around long enough for everyone to have decided they’re not anyone's first choice. Or even their second one... both in his own way like a document run through the photocopier one too many times; a tired image of what might have been… if only. And there are a lot of “if onlys” for both men.

Which brings me to my premise.

What I’ve outlined above is a collection of undesirable contenders no more able to successfully lead this nation than my albino frog, Humbert Humbert.

We must also take into account all of the forces behind the scenes: the Brothers Koch pulling the purse strings of Herman Cain as well as plunging their grubby paws into any political fight that serves them personally; Grover Norquist holding an entire governing body of lawmakers hostage due to a Tax Reform pledge penned and signed over a decade ago.

For heaven’s sake, Grover. I have a kid who’s gone from diapers to big boy undies and is almost out of elementary school in that amount time. Am I to assume that I shouldn’t adjust the particulars of his daily care and rearing based on the circumstances of today rather than ten years ago when he surfed out of my who-ha on a tidal wave of amniotic fluid and only required a clean nappy and a bottle milk to keep him content?

Cue the gaggle of Grand Ole’ Partiers like Mitch McConnell and his cronies, all bent on seeing our sitting president as a one-termer, and what we have is a recipe for a bilious stew of governmental gridlock; self-sustaining dysfunction with no end in sight.

But perhaps that’s the intent. At least from the perspective of the congressional GOP. Imagine, for a moment, if there was effectively no pesky POTUS to get in the way of the daily Senate and House shenanigans. Imagine a United States where the President was a puppet for Congress; a figurehead bought and paid for to do their bidding. A leader who was just ineffective enough to bow to every demand of whichever party held the most seats in Congress - a group of lawmakers who change the rules when it’s convenient for them; when it’s politically convenient and skirts around silly little issues like simple majority votes cast.

I don’t see anyone in the current line up of Republican contenders who, if President, would have the mettle to effectively do the job, or stones big enough to stand up to Congress when the need arose.

And I suspect that certain members of the House and Senate don’t either. Only to them, that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, we, the American people are strapped to Fortuna’s wheel and can only hope she does not crush us beneath her spokes.