News & Politics

The GOP's Lame Presidential Candidates: Are They Crazy Enough for the Right-Wing Screamers?

Most of the GOP favorites have certain critical flaws that could cripple their chances of winning over the Limbaugh-Fox News-Malkin axis of the GOP base.

There was a time when Rush Limbaugh fans would happily trot to the ballot box and vote for soulless corporate lackeys like Bob Dole simply because they represented that last bulwark defending Real America from Hitlerly KKKlinton’s mandatory castration program.

But times have changed and nowadays Rush and his fellow right-wing media shriekers are far more demanding. As the nominations of Sharon Angle, Joe Miller, Carl Paladino and Christine O’Donnell demonstrate, Limbaugh and his like-minded allies have inspired their audience to thumb their nose at the Republican establishment by supporting candidates who not only protect them from Democrats but who also speak to their deeply held cultural values.

Oftentimes, these values take the form of a checklist of key issues: Does the candidate want to privatize Medicare? Do they want to start wars with multiple Middle Eastern countries? Do they properly relish punishing teachers, policemen and firefighters for daring to seek higher wages? And most importantly, do they oppose any efforts to encourage children to exercise and eat vegetables?

Unfortunately, most of the 2012 Republican favorites all have certain critical flaws that could cripple their chances of winning over the Limbaugh-Fox News-Malkin axis of the GOP base. In this piece we’ll break down the major 2012 contenders and see how they stack up to the conservative media howlers’ ideals of misanthropy, bloodlust and authoritarianism.

-Candidate #1: Mitt Romney

Romney is the classic type of plastic corporatist puppet that the Republican Party has proudly nominated for decades. He has perfect hair, chiseled looks and a business background that would typically make him an ideal candidate in any Republican primary.

But there’s a major problem with Mitt: He started his political career in Massachusetts, which ranks somewhere between North Korea and Mordor in the eyes of talk radio personalities. While running for and serving in public office in Massachusetts, Mitt made a number of statements that are standard fare for Bay State politicians but that sound like chants from the Satanic Bible to the Limbaugh-Beck axis. For instance, in 2003, then-Governor Romney said he’d support a nationwide gas tax hike. He also worked very hard to establish his pro-choice credentials by filling out a (gulp!) Planned Parenthood questionnaire on reproductive rights. Oh, and he also once said during a debate with Ted Kennedy that “we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.” Uh-oh!

But the very worst thing Romney did while governor or Mordorchusetts was to help people get access to health care. It didn’t matter that Romney did so in a corporatist manner that enlarged the take-home pay for insurance company boards – his efforts to get people in Massachusetts health insurance may well doom him in the coming election. You see, helping people get health care is the one of the most horrific crimes against humanity according to Fox News and friends largely because… well we’re not sure, but helping people get health care seems to be the worst thing any Republican governor can do.

The point is, many conservatives have called on Romney to apologize for helping people get health care, even though he touted it as one of his signature strengths while running for president in 2008. And for a candidate whose persistent flip-flops have led Dittohead guru Erick Erickson to brand him as “Multiple Choice Mitt,” another reversal on health care could be deadly.

Romneycare should be a lesson to all Republicans everywhere: Do not touch health care at all unless it involves privatizing Medicare or slashing health benefits for veterans. The GOP’s Limbaugh faction will stand for nothing less.

-Candidate 2: Mitch Daniels

Daniels is a favorite of Beltway Republicans, who are enamored with the fact that he seemingly knows how to count. Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson best summed up his love for the dweeby Indiana bean-counter when he wrote that “Daniels's appeal is not ideological; it is mathematical.”

Since memories of calculus classes are not appealing to very many people, Gerson elaborated: “The passions aroused by ideology, in his view, hamper the ability of political adults to deal rationally with disturbing budget numbers.”

OK, so he’s a union-busting version of Michael Dukakis. Big whoop.

You would think that such an uninspiring figure would elicit apathy from conservative bloggers, who typically don’t devote much energy to reading over policy papers or parsing wonky budget speeches.

Unfortunately for Daniels, though, his blandness hasn’t inoculated him from the ire of the Nutteratti, since he’s committed multiple sins against conservative orthodoxy during his time as governor of Indiana. First of all, as Jennifer Rubin has noted, Daniels has assiduously avoided kissing the collective asses of our conservative overlords and has instead been courting (shudder!) people in that godforsaken hellhole known as “New York City.”

“Daniels didn’t go to the Tea Partyers or to the National Rifle Association for a testing-the-waters confab,” cries Rubin. “Instead, he went to Manhattan.”

You see, before any Republican candidate can win over the Limbaugh axis, they have to engage in a thoroughly humiliating round of ass-kissing where they pretend that Sean Hannity is the most courageous and inspiring journalist since Edward R. Murrow. It doesn’t matter if the candidate supports exciting policies such as mandatory castration for all men who make less than $30,000 a year: without rampant ass-kissing, the candidate stands no chance of winning over Fox News.

Daniels’ second big problem is that, like Mitt Romney before him, he tried to help people get health care. As Michael Cannon writes in the National Review, “Daniels expanded Indiana’s Medicaid program to families of four earning $44,000.” What’s more, Daniels implemented a set of policies known as the “Healthy Indiana Plan” that Cannon says “offers high-deductible coverage combined with a taxpayer-funded health savings account” that not only “hands out coverage plus something a lot like cash.” The bottom line is that Republicans who have national ambitions should never under any circumstances try to help people get health care. It will always come back to bite them in the behind.

Daniels’ final sin could be his worst one of all, however: Apparently Muslims actually like him. In fact, Daniels’ ties with Sharia Law are apparently so strong that he even received an award from the American Arab Institute. For conservative activist Pam Geller, this was the final straw.

“Notorious Jew hater James Zogby is the co-founder and President of the Arab Institute,” Geller howled. “Mitch Daniels has been involved (sic) with this nototrious (sic) anti-Israel Israel (sic) organization (sic) for 25 years. How repulsive.”

Candidate #3: Newt Gingrich

Yes, we all know about Newt’s multiple marriages and past infidelities and we know that might make him unpalatable for social conservatives. And I may be wrong but I don’t think many evangelicals will be convinced by Newt’s assertion that he cheated on his wife because he was “driven by how passionately I felt about this country” and thus “worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

But Newt’s past naughtiness is actually just a tiny part of an even larger problem that has dogged Gingrich for decades now: That he is shockingly full of shit on just about everything, not just marriage.

Newt’s core problem is that he’s perpetually torn between being a classic conservative bomb-thrower and being a cultivated “Man of Ideas” who wins respect from the mainstream press. So while Newt scores points with the Limbaugh axis by deriding Barack Obama’s supposed “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior,” he loses many more potential mega-dittos with his “I’m-a-serious-problem-solver” shtick.

To cite one classic example, Gingrich’s desire to be considered a Serious Intellectual back in 2008 led him to speak a major right-wing heresy by acknowledging the existence of global warming. In fact, Gingrich’s desire to be taken seriously on climate change even led to him cutting an advertisement with (shudder!) then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

 

From a right-wing media shrieker perspective, Newt might as well have cut an ad with Osama bin Laden and said, “We may not agree on much, but we do agree on the need to provide America’s children with mandatory prayer rugs. Allahu akbar!”

And like Mitt Romney, Gingrich has a long history of supporting an individual mandate to purchase health insurance. You see, the conservative position on health care used to be that we needed to mandate that people buy private health insurance to avoid a socialistic single-payer system like the ones in communist hellholes like Canada. But with the rise of the Tea Party in 2009, Republican candidates had to shift their views away from individual mandates and toward a system where people are left to die in the streets, just as they did in the days of the Founders. So statements such as “you have a responsibility to buy insurance” and “we need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured” from Gingrich’s 2005 book “Winning the Future” just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Newt’s full-of-shit-about-everything problem is particularly magnified in the age of YouTube, where videos showing past contradictions can be plastered all over Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. You saw this crop up during the Gingrich campaign’s comically awful first week, which saw Newt denounce Paul Ryan’s insane neo-Social Darwinist budget before hastily retreating in the face of conservative backlash. Newt predictably went full-bore in an attack against the Lamestream Media and even said that it was now out of bounds to accurately quote his past statements.

“Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate,” Gingrich howled.
After just one week, the Gingrich campaign became so bloodied that it had been reduced to releasing epic poems that portrayed Newt as a conquering hero who would dispel all doubters and outsiders in good time.

“A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught,” wrote Gingrich flack Rick Tyler. “But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.”

This inspired me to try penning my own Newt epic, based on Tennyson’s classic “Ulysses”:

“Newtlysses”

It little profits that an idle former House Speaker,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged third wife, I mete and dole
Bombs and predator drones unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and have a Kenyan anti-colonial mindset, and know not me.

You get the idea.

The good thing about being perpetually full of shit about everything is that it’s easier to make people forget all about your past positions. People who actually feel slightly guilty about bullshitting people don’t have that same luxury. So if Newt can manage to get some – any! – message discipline over the next few months he could turn out OK.

Candidate #4: Tim Pawlenty

I tried to do some research about Tim Pawlenty. Then I got bored. Like, really, really, really bored.

Chances of winning over Dittohead Nation: Meh. Pawlenty is a straight-laced Midwestern conservative who gets check-marks on all the major issues but who doesn’t generate all that much excitement among the Limbaugh crowd. For even though Pawlenty is staunchly anti-abortion and has received an “A” on fiscal management from the Cato Institute, his dry demeanor fails to provide Fox News fans with the emotional gratification that comes from angrily screeching at your adversaries as loud as you possibly can. Oh, and he apparently doesn’t hate Muslims, or something. The bottom line is that conservative media shriekers will support him but not enthusiastically so.

Candidate #5: Sarah Palin

Palin is seemingly the perfect candidate for the conservative screamer movement largely because she’s one of them herself. Let’s review the facts: She kisses Sean Hannity’s ass, she doesn’t care about governing, she works for Fox News, she’s never helped people get health care, she’s never filmed a video with Nancy Pelosi and she cries like a baby grizzly whenever anyone says anything the least bit uncomplimentary toward her. Indeed, Palin’s extreme sensitivity to criticism of any sort has led to her start more pointless feuds than anyone this side of 50 Cent.

And yet… well, here’s the problem with Sarah Palin: She would lose to Obama, big-time. And no, it doesn’t matter if Barack Obama replaced the stars-and-stripes with his Muslim prayer rug on the White House flagpole. Every single poll has shown that Palin is widely disliked by the American public and that nominating her would result in a 20-point defeat for the Republican Party.

And to paraphrase George Patton, “Conservative screamers love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” The same will eventually prove true of current Dittohead favorite Herman Cain, the pizza magnate and Tea Party activist whose lone attempt to run for public office ended in a humiliating defeat to current Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson in a 2004 GOP primary. And if you can’t campaign well on wingnuttery in Georgia, there’s no way you’ll be able to campaign on wingnuttery nationwide.

That means the Fox News axis will likely have to bring a fresh face onto the scene that will shake up the primary race. A fresh face such as…

Candidate #6: Somali Warlord Musa Sudi Yalahow

As you can see, none of the big-name Republican candidates really lives up to the high standards set by Fox News screamers. This is why I predict the Right’s leading lights will embark on a campaign to draft a dark-horse candidate to shake up the race. And there’s no better candidate to rally support on the Right than Somali warlord Musa Sudi Yalahow.

First of all, just think about how well Somalia fits in with modern conservative ideals of how society should be run. There ain’t no gubmint bureaucrats tellin’ you that you can’t own a gun in Somalia! The right to bear arms in that country is so sacrosanct that they don’t even need a Constitutional amendment to make it a reality!

Similarly, there ain’t no gubmint bureaucrats in Somalia tellin’ you that you gotta buy health insurance. In fact, according to Doctors Without Borders, people in Somalia don’t have to suffer under the tyranny of having health insurance at all! Check out an excerpt from this report:

“For many years Somalis have endured violence, displacement, malnutrition, and lack of access to adequate health care. […] Over the course of the year, the gap between critical needs in Somalia, particularly in and around Mogadishu, and the level of humanitarian response grew even larger, mainly due to aid agencies’ extremely limited capacity to deliver assistance in this highly insecure and volatile environment.”

You can just smell the freedom and liberty all the way across the ocean, can’t you?

Next, consider the kind of man Mr. Yalahow is. According to his Wikipedia page, Yalahow was part of an America-backed warlord coalition to fight Islamist extremists in the country back in early 2006. In other words, he has a lot more real-world experience fighting terrorists than the Kenyan Kommie currently occupying the White House ever will. And when many of his fellow warlords agreed to stop fighting and voluntarily disarm their militias, Yalahow instead issued veiled threats to revolt if the new government didn’t live up to its promises.

Now that’s the kind of fightin’ spirit that Fox News could get behind – maybe Yalahow could pick Sharon Angle as his running mate to form a Second Amendment Remedies Dream Ticket?

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.
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