The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    It's Been Fun. But Seriously, Folks, It's The Presidency.

    Since at least the turn of the 21st Century it's been a time-honored tradition to bring in the clowns and have some fun with the quest for the highest job in the nation.  You would think the duties and obligations of the presidency of the United States would cause most people to turn and run and keep on running, but every four years the most unlikely characters come out of the woodwork, shouting, "Hey, I could be president!  Why not?  How hard could it be?"


    Photo:  Richard Drew/Getty Images
     
    It's like the first weeks of every new season of "American Idol".  Singers?  You want singers?  Be patient, we'll get to that. First we need to haul out the phonies and the almost-singers and pretend they're really auditioning because it's not just about finding the best singer in America, it's about the show, the whole show, and nothing but the show.

    I would say the Republicans have outdone themselves this cycle, but I'm still quivering (could have been laughter; could have been dread) over the potential 2012 lineup:  Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Thaddeus McCotter. etc.--remember

    Early on, Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul won the Iowa straw poll, but not before some high hilarity at an Iowa fairground, where blow-up slides, corn-dog obscenities, and fights over the size of their tents took center stage.

    Earlier still, pizza guy Herman Cain ran as a non-politician who was pretty sure there was a lot wrong with the government.  His qualifications for the presidency included a vast knowledge of pizza ingredients, a build-up of a chain of pizzerias, and an economic plan that included the numbers "999"--a plan so brilliantly obtuse it shot him to number one in the polls for what seemed like a really long time for a pizza guy wanting to be president.  (Sort of like Sanjaya on American Idol.  Some things are beyond understanding.)

    The Democrats haven't been immune to the silly season, either. In January, 2012, just before the New Hampshire primaries, C-Span broadcast The Great Debate of the Lesser-Knowns, a two-hour show where both Republican and Democratic wannabees had a chance to present their credentials and give reasons why America should vote for them. Among them was a wizard named "Vermin", a guy who visited all 1712 US counties and found that "people aren't happy", and a guy who had been in Real Estate but was now out of a job so he figured what the hell?  (It may have been the most fun I've ever had writing a blog.)

    So here it is, 2015, less than a year away from our next presidential election and the silly season is upon us.  The Republicans, as usual, are outshining the Democrats, who, to be fair, only have three candidates in the running, all bona fide politicians.  They're way too boring for the pundits, who, if they were honest, would admit what they really want is a burlesque show.  Show us some skin!  We want pratfalls! Where are the comics?

    Contrast the Democrats with the Republicans who, as of this writing, have 10 candidates running in the main, three or four relegated to the debate night kid's table, and several, including Lindsey Graham--a real, honest-to-goodness long-time politician--on the outside looking in.

    Knowing they have nothing to offer their followers, the GOP keeps coming up with irrelevant attention-getters, hoping nobody will notice.  Donald Trump is a snarly, puffed-up businessman hawking his celebrity in place of actual policy.  Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon whose utterances conjure up Peter Sellers as Chance the gardener in "Being There".  Day after day, they're polling as the front-runners.  Neither of them has any political experience--an obvious asset for a party hoping for another chance to stop the damn governing already!

    So last week the two Republican front-runners made political news again.  Ben Carson, because some of his words ended up forming actual sentences, was forced to hold a news conference defending his veracity.  He was accused of lying about stabbing a friend and in order to maintain some semblance of credibility (because he's running for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES), he had to insist that he was telling the truth.  Oh, yes I did!  I did stab him!  I swear!

    And Donald Trump managed for yet another week to keep himself at the top of the pundit dance cards. (Thus never having to spend a dime of his own money promoting his candidacy.)  Much to the delight of the press, he took a break from the hard work of pretending to be a politician to become the first active presidential candidate ever to host NBC's "Saturday Night Live".  He was able to do this even after NBC had kinda sorta fired him from his own show, "The Apprentice" and showed at least outward signs of not being pleased when he insulted Mexicans and dissed Univision, the Hispanic network that refused to air Trump's own personal beauty contest.

    The Democrats made it to the news cycle last week, too, for a few brief moments.  On Friday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow hosted the "First in the South" Democratic Forum in South Carolina.  The two-hour program gave the top three candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley, a chance to answer questions without interruptions or attempts to one-up each other. They even had some fun--Bernie laughed out loud--but there was no doubt they are serious applicants for the job--repeat, the job--of President of the United States.

    I don't see that yet in either Donald Trump or Ben Carson.  Trump is busy building his brand, so to him Situation Room angst is for losers. And Carson is--I don't know--selling a book?

    Meanwhile, there are real Republican politicians like Lindsey Graham, and even Jeb Bush, who don't stand a chance against this need by the media to keep politics so highly entertaining there's no danger of the dreaded channel-surfing.

    Photo:  Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons
     
    Someday soon we're going to have to stop looking for the fun part of politics and start cramming for the hard stuff.  We're going to have to be the grown-ups. We don't let children vote for a reason.  It's because they're not equipped to read, to study, to analyze, to decide.  We are.  They don't understand the difference between showmanship and statesmanship.  We do.  They feel no sense of obligation toward establishing a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. As the grown-ups in control, we do and we must. 
     
     
    (Also appearing at Ramona's Voices and Crooks and Liars)
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    Comments

    That's weird - I used the Chauncey Gardener analogy earlier today - over on Daily Howler. Maybe an internet meme we're picking up on, except I didn't recall one.


    I think it's Ben Carson himself that makes the connection so obvious!  I'm going to be really pissed if I find out he can walk on water.


    I was thinking about Chauncey the other day.

    Carson is Chauncey in my mind anyway.

    What in the hell is he doing in the 'top tier' anyway?

     Carson scares the hell out me more than anyone else except for Cruz?


    Good one, Ramona. Last time around in November, I think, ​ the R's were moving from Cain to Gingrich, who attacked the moderators, was backed by Adelson and went on to win the S.C. primary at the first of the year.


    Oh, yes, Gingrich.  Haven't seen him in a while and haven't missed him.  Wonder why he didn't try to run this time?  What does he know that they don't know?


    Maybe Sheldon gave him a consulting assignment on the condition that he stay out. The repeat grifters---well, Huck, Santorum, etc. What a lifestyle.i​


    You have to admit, though--these are the kinds of things dreams are made of.  A bunch of nobodies going nowhere while we watch and wait.


    Are you planning to watch the debate tonight? I would normally watch both tiers, but unfortunately (can't help myself) I don't get FBN and am unable to stream it. Ah, well ... I'm sure the most jaw-droppingly stupid moments will live on!


    There are comments at DK (just saw a tweet from Wolfrum).


    I'll check that out, too.  I'm looking at FB and Twitter, but I have to admit I'm not really that interested--all of the good stuff will be replayed, I'm sure!


    I'm watching The Voice, but I'll switch over during commercials.  I'm sure they'll be doing a play-by-play on every news channel tomorrow.


    It is a job.  We can be proud of the Democrats this cycle for running people who could credibly be president. That includes O'Malley and Webb and Lessig as well as Clinton and Sanders.

    Now, I have to say, on the Republican side, that I can't ever hate a system that will let a Trump be a front runner, or a Carson, or any of the other unlikely sorts.  I like a system where a group of people can make Rand Paul into a Senator and Ron Paul into a congressman, not because I like Rand and Ron but because if I'm in a system where that can't happen, I call shenanigans. The fix is in.  You know, what Buckley said about preferring to be ruled by a random selection from the Boston phone book than the professors of Harvard makes some sense.  Put another way, I want a lot more direct democracy in our system, even if it means that we'll have Kim and Kanye in Congress.

    So far, the people have weeded out the improbables when it comes to the Oval Office.  The worst president in my lifetime, George W. Bush, would not even have been president in a more direct democracy -- he did lose the popular vote, after all.

    I think you're right... the people toy with some fantasies before they select their idol.

    And Chauncey Gardiner... movie Chauncey or book Chauncey?  It's one of those cases where the book is as good as the movie but that the book, short as it is, gives you a gardener who is a bit more of a funhouse mirror and who might well have a place in this and every election.

     


    STOP HILLARY !  Get your bumper sticker at the Republican National Committee link.

    As if 8 years of Stop Obama wasn't enough......hindrance, obstruction, idiocy, legislative impairment and a wreaking of havoc on democracy, our nation and our future.

    BTW, the GOP has no STOP BERNIE petition or bumper sticker.


    (It's their Wi-Fi password for media tonight, too. hee, hee.)


    Can they stop Hillary and still stop Obama? Obama has been running roughshod over them so they must have given up on stopping  him. 

    Got news for them. 'STOP'  won't work with Hillary either.


    If the Democrat illuminati are, this early in the race, demanding that their troops  get serious there must be trouble brewing already in the HillBilly Hotel. Too many base Democrats are following Bernie and i wonder if many of them will shed their disgust for HRC when he withdraws especially if HRC and her supporters get serious and dig into their bag of dirty tricks as has happened before.

    I think the fun is just beginning, the serious fun, because this is the ultimate popularity contest and the serious issues are for those who don't know how to have fun or really understand our society. HRC is popular among many Democrats and some independents but many in those groups can't stand her or what she represents, they may just stay home election day.

    Trump has played  this game expertly knowing a lot about popularity contests and reality programming something no politician could or would do and when he actually starts to spend money there will be panic in funland.

    Trump may even be able to draw many people who don't vote back to the system just to insure that a Clinton doesn't soil the White House linen ever again.

     


    You know, Peter, you have an interestingly entertaining way of playing with words that the writer in me appreciates. I can't argue substance, though, because you don't present any.


    Peter patter and the report from funland. 


    Contrary to what we see here the overwhelming reports I've read about Sanders speeches and other campaign events is that Sanders supporters are not angry and they like Hillary. That could change if the fight turns ugly but atm it seems both Sanders and Hillary are acceptable to most supporters from both sides.


    Really?


    Aside from her being a deceptive genocidal lesbo tri-lateralist shill who's trying to destroy the environment while funneling money to her hedge fund son-in-law, sure - better than a Republican, dontcha think? Now, about those Benghazi emails...


    I haven't been to a Sanders rally so I don't know. I've read several articles that claim there's kinda a hippie vibe and most people there seem ready to support Hillary if/when Sanders loses.


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