Send Out the Clowns
The circus train chugs off into oblivion, its clown car stuffed with one-hit-wonders morosely studying the bills they’ve racked up in town. The tent – which turned out to be very small indeed – has been folded and packed; the concession stands remain, forlorn and abandoned, a few raggedy sweater vests and moldy pizza slices and copies of Ellis the Elephant left on their shelves, hoping for a stray purchaser. Yes, some folks wander through the dismantled circus looking for any remnant of the hilarious entertainment they had enjoyed. All they see is a confused man, still sporting clown makeup, staring at a ringmaster’s top hat, as if wondering whether to substitute it for his dusty red fright wig.
The Republican Primary season is over.
Gone are fractious debates during which audience members sit on whoopee cushions, pooting out inappropriate boos and yelps. Gone are outrageous charges and ridiculous claims delivered with gotcha joy buzzers. Gone are super-sized gaffes begging for a cream-pie-in-the-kisser response. Gone are medieval chastity dumb-shows accompanied by suggestively squirting flowers.
Gone are Texas cowboy-clowns, 9-9-9 (turn it upside down! Hah!) clowns, non-blinking Palin-wanna-be clowns, tycoons-who–look-like-sunburned-badgers clowns, Mandarin-speaking ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m-associating-with-these-people’ clowns, and sex-obsessed angry zealot clowns. Also gone are balloon-headed moon-suited clowns and isolationist gold-standard clowns, although they dream of a Tampa Big Top where they could still wow the crowd. Yowza!
The circus has departed. We’re left with Mitt Romney. And he’s left covered with stale sawdust and greasepaint. On the one hand, he’s got a lot of cleanup ahead of him. On the other hand, the more he cleans up, the less fun it is for the circus’s patrons, who’ve grown accustomed to being greatly amused by this year’s epic Republican Side Show.
Is there no hope? Will Punchinello morph back into Mr. Roboto, draining all the merriment from the upcoming Presidential campaign?
Don’t despair, circus fans. There’s still: the Vice Presidential Pick!
Think of the wondrous possibilities. Any of the previous contenders could be chosen: they’re all crazy, and they’re all liable to go off-script, big time, ad-libbing their way to uproarious disaster for the ticket, their clown-shoe-sized egos making it impossible for them to be useful team players. Not to mention that the fastidious presumptive presidential candidate would rather face a major IRS audit than be in the same room with any of them.
Another possibility is a ‘safe’ vice presidential pick. Rob Portman, who presided over the Bush II economic disaster? Mitch Daniels, whose charisma quotient beats the pre-Christmas-Future Ebenezer Scrooge’s (and who has some odd family ghosts in his closet)? Tim Pawlenty, who’s so spineless he cried uncle up before it became evident that ANY REPUBLICAN could be front-runner-for-a-day?
This would be like entering a funhouse in which all the mirrors were . . . just . . . mirrors. Funny in a lukewarm postmodern sort of way.
Then there’re the ‘semi-safes.’ Paul Ryan, a double-down on the Mephistophelian budget he wrote and Romney embraces. Chris Christie, the escapee from a Sopranos episode who would upstage Romney at every turn. Marco Rubio, a bilingual Dan Quayle who might also upstage Romney. Bob McDonnell, aka Governor Vaginal Probe. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire’s own enhanced interrogation technique enthusiast.
There’s yet a final possibility, one that promises to delight circus fans. It’s ‘going rogue’ – picking a vice presidential candidate who’s off the radar and out to lunch. It worked out so well in 2008; why not try it again? Bowl me over with naughty librarian glasses: Sarah Palin’s been the most outspoken advocate of this approach.
Her suggestion? One backed by not-my-time-yet-and-my-state-hates-me South Carolina governor Nikki Haley? And by the Hermanator? And by the irrepressible I’ll-say-anything-to-sell-my-books-and-tapes ‘big thinker,’ Newt Gingrich?
The Tea-Party darling, the caller-out-of-card-carrying-commies-in-Congress, the believer that Joseph Goebbels “would be very proud of the Democrats,” one of the truly irresponsible, not to mention insane, members of the House of Representatives . . . ALLEN WEST. What a treasure he would be on a national ticket. Summa cum laude from Clown College!
I fear Allen West will not be chosen. Romney has a buttoned-up earnestness that blinds him to the exhilaratingly absurd dimensions of the primary he’s been a successful part of. If I had to bet today (and I am a betting woman), I’d put my money on Marco Rubio for Romney’s VP. (With a side bet on Rob Portman.)
Ho. Hum. Let’s check Rubio’s boxes.
‘Latino’ (whatever that means – Romney does not seem to understand that ‘Latino’ encompasses many culturally, economically, and politically disparate groups). Swing State’ (true enough, but the fact that Rubio has lied about the circumstances surrounding his family’s emigration to the United States, reshaping a nice-enough let’s-try-for-better-opportunity-story into a fallacious let’s-escape-an-evil-Communist-dictator story may come back to bite one’s campaigning butt). ‘ Tea-Party Favorite’ (evidently, but the Tea Party’s cachet is much less piquant than it was two years ago).
Checked all the boxes? Absolutemente!
The best hope for a clown show, in this scenario, is that the ringmeister might be so satisfied with his VP choice that he/his campaign (presuming Romney drags in some real professionals) ignores Rubio once he’s tapped as running mate. That could set the stage for some real comedy. Rubio certainly has some significant political skills – but they’ve been demonstrated in the only state where Cuban-Americans have considerable sway – he’s very young – and he doesn’t come across as dazzlingly bright. Left to his own devices, Rubio might become an SNL favorite as he tries to toe a party line strewn with banana peels.
I can foresee all sorts of risible bladder-bops about immigration (Rubio has been a bit more progressive about matters such as the Dream Act than has the newly self-deportation and electrified-fence-committed Romney) and religion (Rubio was a Mormon before he converted to Roman Catholicism . . . I don’t think I need to tease out the possible fun oddities of these faith convergences and divergences). Further, Rubio has had mortgage and student loan payment problems, which play nicely with a campaign emphasizing fiscal responsibility.
Whoever is ultimately the Republican Vice Presidential choice, s/he (‘s/he’ reminds us of the always awesome hope that Palin might be chosen – AGAIN) has an inspiring potential for infinite amusement.
Send out the clowns? Send them back in!