Why does someone run for President when they have to know they will never win? That is the question I asked myself when I heard that former New York Governor George Pataki announced he was running for the Republican nomination. George who? I went looking, trying to find out where he has been hiding since retiring from public office nine years ago. So I did what we all do: I went to LinkedIn. Apparently, he has been a lawyer for Chadbourne & Parke LLP and founded The Pataki-Cahill Group, a vague company with even vaguer client testimonials.
Who is this guy? What is he thinking? No one outside of New York knows who he is. He has been out of the spotlight since December 31, 2006! For reasons known only to him, he feels that after an almost decade-long absence from public life, he is the one to save this country.
And why not? It seems every Republican over the age of 35 is running for President. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been so much in Iowa and New Hampshire that there are no doubts as to his future plans, and none of them involve actually governing New Jersey.
South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham gave a stirring speech in his hometown, Central, where he reminded us first of all the reasons to be freaked out and frightened of the world and then, without giving us solutions, waved and left the stage. Here is a classic fear-mongering quote from him:
I want to be president to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us. Not just penalize or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them.
And this one:
I’ve come to conclude we will never enjoy peaceful co-existence with radical Islam, because its followers intend to destroy our way of life. However, America can be and will be secure only if we have strength. Security through strength will protect us.
According to one source, 31 Republicans who want to be President. Or 25. Or 685. It all depends on who has officially “declared” so they can legally start campaigning and who has formed an “exploratory committee,” which means they are thisclose to announcing anyway. The exploratory explorers include, of course, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Texas governor Rick Perry, and current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and, of course, Christie. Is there a debate stage large enough for all these people?
I really sat up when the increasingly strident and homophobic former Pennsylvania senator. Rick Santorum, decided to run again, because what this country really wants is a fanatical, bigoted, hard-right, fundamentalist Christian in charge. I struggle to understand where he gets this idea that the U.S. is turning more right when a recent Gallup poll found the opposite.
Santorum suffers from cognitive dissonance — the confused mental condition resulting from holding incongruous, often mutually contradictory beliefs at the same time. And he wants to run this country. Whatever you do, do not google him.
Then there are names on the GOP slate unknown to me or anyone outside their families. They’re on the GOP Tinder that no one will hook up with: Kerry Bowers, Dale Christensen, Skip Andrews (self-described as “Army child and business owner”), John Dummett, Jr., Mark Everson, Chris Hill, Michael Kinlaw, Michael Petyo. And Dennis Michael Lynch — or DML, as he prefers to be called — a successful entrepreneur and media personality! I mean, who are these guys and why would they think they had a chance of winning…my heart? Meet Michael Bickelmeyer, a “Creative Dreamer.” OMG, me too! Oh, and that 35-year-old Brian Russell — just a humble entrepreneur, innovator and limited-government advocate who longs to be Commander-in-Chief and take long walks on the beach.
I almost forgot that perennial jester among fools, Donald Trump, who is simply wasting everyone’s time.
Even Dr. Ben Carson, the brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon and completely insane homophobe, must know that he is doomed to become the new Herman Cain.
I believe all these men (and Carly Fiorina) have an absolute right to run for President. I love that there is a big pack of Republicans jockeying for position. I think it’s healthy and supremely American to let anyone into the ring. But at what point does it turn from a busload of clowns screaming to be heard to a solid handful of serious candidates with thoughtful plans for the country? The Republican and Democratic nominees will have to raise close to $2 billion. Does DML think he can climb that mountain? Can Bickelmeyer ever dream that big?
Not for a minute do I think that any of these unknowns think that they can win. So yes, it’s all about landing a Fox News gig. After all, DML is already a “media personality,” which is the actual job description of all hosts on Fox. Or it’s about making their voices and positions heard: limited government, fiscal conservatism, turning back the clock on women’s reproductive health, hatred of Obamacare (yet having no real alternative), sending all brown people back across the border. Or gaining name recognition for future campaigns and selling books, lining up paid speaking engagements, getting Mike Huckabee’s old time slot at Fox, satisfying their last bullet point on their bucket list, or promoting their terrible TV show The Apprentice or maybe they’re bored with golf.
The next 17 months will be tough, hard and very, very expensive. Most of these folks will drop out of the race so that the inevitable five or six real contenders can duke it out for the prize of losing to the Democrat. I write that because no matter who the Democratic nominee is, they will have run a more center-left campaign than the GOP candidate who, to win the primary, will have swung so far right they will never tack back.
Most Americans will never hear of DML or his cohort. The media doesn’t care about them and not even Fox will look past the recognizable names. DML, Bickelmeyer — they will never sit with The Five. But I do hope the media let us meet you before you inevitably go home to rail against the tyranny of the big government you wanted to lead. I like when politicians have to fight for their job, so don’t make it easy for the so-called front-runners. I hope you have fun, but I won’t miss you when you and your brand of right-wing crazy are gone and the real campaigns can begin.