Sunday, November 27, 2011

Send In The Clowns

I first became interested in politics in 1960, as a twelve year old kid growing up in Montreal. That was the year Jean Lesage defeated Antonio Barrette and the remnants of Maurice Duplessis' Union Nationale. That was also the year John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon. Sitting north of the border, I had no voice in that election. But I was for Kennedy. I distrusted Nixon. And he lived down to everything I suspected.

In 1964, the Republicans chose Barry Goldwater as their candidate, and it has been downhill ever since. The advent of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush merely confirmed what I believed fifty years ago: Republicans are clowns.

The present batch of Republican candidates illustrates that claim in spades. Jeffrey Simpson has correctly assessed the modern Republican Party: "the Republican Party is an angry, boiling, roiling mess, throwing up a gaggle of second-and third-rate would-be candidates."

It appears that, after watching each of their saviours -- Bachmann, Perry and Cain -- implode, the choice for Republicans comes down to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Simpson writes:

Mr. Romney, slick, packaged and rich, has changed positions on key issues more times than Jennifer Aniston has changed boyfriends. No matter how much he tries to pander to religious Republicans, Tea Party frothers, antigovernment ideologues, isolationists and the close-the-border crowd, they just don’t see him as a True Believer.

And Gingrich, who smugly condemned  the Occupy Protestors -- because, he said, they lacked a moral centre and needed a bath -- should never have come back from the dead:

Earlier in the campaign, those who know Mr. Gingrich best – his entire top political staff – resigned en masse. They saw arrogance when none was warranted, insufferable wordiness, political immaturity and a candidate who would listen to no one but himself.

From where I sit -- still north of the 49th parallel -- not much has changed. When it comes to both candidates and presidents, the Republican Party keeps sending in the clowns.

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