The field of Republican candidates seeking their party’s presidential nomination, and the right to take on President Obama in November 2012, is already taking a turn for the bizarre. As each hopeful tries to move further to the right than the other, and claim to be the legitimate standard-bearer of conservative ideals, the rhetoric is already sounding worn. From the obtuse Donald Trump to the new and improved Newt Gingrich, with former mistress now wife in tow, the Republican Party is beginning to resemble a not to funny caricature of a not too funny reality. If this were the Apollo Theater, these wannabe nominees would have been run off the stage already.
It’s as if the debacle of 2008 had not taken place and we did not witness the implosion of the McCain-Palin ticket; a train wreck that left us with a robotic former Alaskan governor with an off switch that seemingly does not work. Worse, it spawned a mutant strain in the form of the Tea Party, a group of supposed “Patriots” invested in their colonial fantasy of an idyllic America where the states supersede federal authority, a gun is as convenient as a stick of gum, the survival of the fittest is the ruling principle, and Blacks and other racial minorities know their place. This toxic brew has created the Godzilla of political candidates, Donald Trump, hulking over the electorate like the monster in the harbor prepared to inflict major damage upon Tokyo. The whole lot of Republican candidates looks like rejects from Trump’s reality television show, “The Apprentice.”
This past week was really one for the books with Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who once had a tantrum because he was asked to use the rear exit to depart Air Force One, attempting to show how hip a white haired, near senior citizen white male can be by declaring his candidacy on the cool corner of the Internet called Twitter. Next, Mitt Romney, the privileged Republican son of a moderate blue-collar Republican governor, came out to declare health care reform evil despite pushing an eerily similar plan when he was governor of Massachusetts, and signed into law with the late Senator Edward Kennedy, champion for national health care, at his side. His efforts to bring affordable health care to the people of Massachusetts had been a point of pride for Romney but now he backtracks, arguing that what’s good for his state is not good for the nation. Now it seems Romney thinks health care reform is a matter solely for states to take up and not the “socialized” prescription that the Republican script calls for all candidates to denounce.
As if this sideshow were not enough, we have the likes of Rep. Michele Bachmann, who makes up American history as she goes along, Rep. Ron Paul, the anti-government candidate who is such a libertarian he had to serve in a government position to prove it, former Senator Rick “Why Am I Doing This” Santorum and the party’s own contribution to racial quotas, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. There is enough material here to keep Saturday Night Live buzzing for months. And you thought Ross Perot was entertaining?
It would all be funny except for the fact that there is a strain of the electorate that is hell bent on knocking President Obama out of office. Despite, or perhaps because of, one of the most engaged first terms of a President in recent memory, the reelection of this President is far from a sure thing. Simmering below the surface of much discontent with President Obama is anger rooted in racism. It’s a point not even worth debating at this juncture. It is what it is. Knowing this though, the White House must make headway on the economic recovery and clarify its principles for the deployment of U.S. troops overseas. With the tab running for two major conflicts, there has been little left in the government’s coffers for this President to implement his agenda. And with the Fox News Channel ready to give the GOP field an open mic, the path to reelection is far more treacherous for President Obama than has been the case with previous White House incumbents.
This is not to suggest that the President does not still have some work to do. I’m still hopeful an economic recovery means Black people recover too, and that the President will expedite the end of our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan; bringing our troops home and ending the run on our treasury. Still, from what I see of the GOP field thus far, the Republican Party is simply rolling the dice and hoping to come up a winner.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com