Say it ain't so, Donald.
This is so depressing. I was actively looking forward to following the Trump For President crazy train for at least a few weeks longer, if not more. You couldn't stay in long enough to participate in one debate, Donald? It would have been the show of the year. “Birth certificates the blacks love me derp derp derp…” All lost forever now. The hairpiece has moved on.
I know, I know, it was a joke campaign, a ploy to get people to watch some stupid reality show I am proud to say I've never even peeked at once. But you have to understand my perspective here: the quintessential excellence of Trump's absurd pre-candidacy was the fact that it dragged the fundamental derangement of the GOP base into the light for all to see. After Mr. Obama gelded Trump with the birth certificate release, the explosion of nonsense from the hedgerows of the far right took on an almost mythical quality, and editorial cartoonists from sea to shining sea had great sport portraying Trump and his followers as tinfoil-wearing brain donors.
This is what I'm going to miss. But I guess you can't have everything, and besides, there is plenty here to play with until the race begins in earnest.
Take Mitt Romney, for instance. Here is a man who, by any meaningful measure, should be the runaway favorite to be the Republican nominee…until, once again, you take the berserkers of the GOP base into account. They are going to be the largest voting bloc in the Republican primaries, and they consider Mormonism a cult (which cracks me up, given the cultish nature of that crew). Add to that the fact that Romney chopped his own legs off last week trying to explain away the fact that he wrote the blueprint for “Obamacare,” which is roundly despised by the party base. E.J. Dionne nailed the crux of Romney's dilemma in a Sunday column for the Washington Post:
The candidates appear much smaller than they are because the party's primary voters and core interest groups insist upon cutting them down to size. To win a Republican nomination, a candidate has to move right, recant absolutely any past position that violates the current conservative catechism and never dare to speak the truth that solving our deficit problem will require new revenue – a.k.a. taxes.
Thus we have Mitt Romney defending the individual mandate to buy insurance that was part of the health plan he championed in Massachusetts but then denouncing President Obama for imposing a similar mandate at the national level. This shuffle wasn't good enough for the guardians of conservative orthodoxy. It ruled that Romney will merit salvation only by fully repudiating his greatest achievement as governor.
And then there's Newt. I literally jumped for joy when he announced his candidacy. Trump was more entertaining, but Newt will do. Straight out of the gate, he blasted the Paul Ryan plan to destroy Medicare with both barrels, calling it “social engineering,” a loaded phrase for anyone on the far right, especially since the Tea Party freshmen in the House are going to try and roll the plan out again this week. There were perhaps ten beats of silence after Gingrich delivered his broadside before his people scrambled to walk back his comments with the predictable “The liberal media misinterpreted him” claim. Expect many more moments like this as the election approaches; one of these days, Newt is going to open his mouth too wide and fall right in.
Ron Paul is in the race, which should be an effective sop for those in the GOP base who pine for Donald Trump and his bright ideas. Paul is, after all, the fellow who voted against sending federal aid money to New Orleans after the Katrina disaster, and just recently told people along the flooding Mississippi River to build their own levees, because the federal government is too big and too controlling in his opinion. Yet this is the same fellow who wants to pass laws that will charge anyone who gets an abortion with first-degree murder. This is just the kind of obnoxious, witless, false libertarianism the GOP base can really sink it's teeth into.
And then, of course, there are Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann to consider. Neither are in it yet – Palin has all but disappeared from public view after covering herself in sackcloth and ashes when Gabrielle Giffords was shot – but one can dream. The bottom of the insanity barrel has not yet been found; there is already a self-described vampire named Jonathon Sharkey running for the Republican nomination, speaking of sinking your teeth in.
How can this not be fun?