First off. . . holy hell, has Osama bin Laden really been dead for a whole month? I guess time flies when you’re having fun.
Or maybe I should start calling him Usama bin Laden again? Fox News certainly has, and I found that a bit odd. I mean, for years the government (especially the FBI and the CIA) referred to him as Usama bin Laden, and often truncated that to just “UBL” for short. And then after 9/11, we all just agreed to call him Osama, though it would take another year or two for us to decide how to spell al-Qaeda. But now, immediately after his death, Fox (and only Fox) went back to Usama.
I actually prefer the FBI’s spelling, since in my mind he will always by UBL. But I have to wonder why Fox, the network that practically invented and most definitely mainstreamed the classic Obama/Osama verbal swap, is suddenly going with the alternate spelling. Maybe they were afraid their frothing blowhards and fanatically unserious Serious People wouldn’t be able to get through a whole story without conflating the names a dozen times. Perhaps changing the spelling and pronunciation was a way to make it easier for the Life Support Systems For Hair (Shep Smith excluded) that dominate their broadcast day.
So, mental time capsuling and grammatical conspiracy theories not withstanding, I suppose it’s time to spend a few embarrassing and loathsome minutes talking about the 2012 GOP field. And before you suggest that words like embarrassing or loathsome are poisoning the well, I might direct you to the Pew Poll recently conducted that asked respondents to come up with a single word that best described their impression of the candidates running for the Republican nomination.
First, let me get the personal grievances out of the way. I’d say that the most embarrassing thing on this list is that “not good” is two words, but the fact that some people chose the word “republican” to describe Republican candidates for President should tell you most of what you need to know about our electorate. I am a bit unclear on why “disappointed” is flagged as a neutral comment, other than perhaps as a balancing concession (and it should be noted that “disappointed” is the most popular of all the supposedly neutral responses).
So nit-picking not withstanding, this is where we are, folks. Most of the flakes, fakers and phonies have finally worn out their media welcomes. Donald Trump, who in his own head would never want to run for the office of the President because he is convinced that the office of The Donald is already a step or two above god, has finally gone back to being a hack-ass reality television star. Mitch Daniels, who was the most serious candidate that no one knew about, had the common sense to not run. Chris Christie, who ran for Governor for the specific purpose of building an asinine conservative-friendly executive record and assured us the other month that he could easily beat Obama, is also not going to run.
Newt Gingrich entered the race, promptly set his own hair on fire by telling the truth (which didn’t make sense because that’s clearly not Newt’s strong suit), and then invited the entire D.C. punditocracy to take turns putting that fire out by punching him in the head. He is a victim of the nasty, backstabbing culture he helped create in Washington, and his abject failures couldn’t have happened to a slimier guy. What’s sad is that in this weak field, his complete implosion still doesn’t put him completely out of the running.
Herman Cain is the new Donald Trump. That’s all.
Michele Bachman is the old Michele Bachman. That’s also all.
And of course, there is Sarah Palin. There is always Sarah Palin, isn’t there? Hell, I’ve typed that name so many times that the keystrokes themselves almost feel familiar, and there’s a good chance that if you’re reading my blog right now, it’s because of Sarah Palin in the first place. Apparently she’s on some kind of supporter funded vacation that is in no way a campaign tour, despite having strumpeted her Totally Not A Tour Bus up in so much jingoistic schlock that the exhaust fumes actually spell out Joe McCarthy in cartoon bubble letters when the engine starts up.
I’ve never believed she actually has the drive or the determination to run for President, at least not on a major party ticket. I’m open to the possibility of her running as a Tea Party candidate spoiler, but I think even she realizes that if she Nader’ed a Presidential election she’d lose some of her loyal followers. So no, I don’t thinks he will run for President, and while I’m perfectly happy to be wrong (dear god, let that woman run), I don’t think I am.
I think she’d run for Vice President again, though. Because I think she thinks she could beat Biden this time around. And she’s always more than happy to let someone else do a bunch of work for her while she smiles and takes all the publicity. Just ask the organizers of Rolling Thunder. She also loves having someone else to blame for her failures. And I think that a guy like, say, Mitt Romney, who has a decent chance at winning the primary only because everyone else’s chances also suck, would happily hitch his hopes to the horrific harpy if he thought it would put him in the White House. So don’t be stunned if, a year from now, we’re all looking at Romney/Palin stickers. It really wouldn’t be much different than the McCain/Palin stickers. Or the McCain/Palin campaign, really.
And Romney is finally positioning himself, playing on the only aspects of his personality that appeal to his base. Basically his campaign boils down to “I’m A Really Rich Guy And I Have Presidenting Hair“. Which, when you think about it, is twice as much as Reagan had to run on. Of course, Romney will never be Reagan, no matter how much he’s going to have to sniff The Gipper’s crap and declare it to be chocolate over the next year or so. And Romney is maneuverable, absurdly flexible, and actually much smarter than the dolt he plays on television. So no, I don’t think RomneyCare or his infinite flip-floppery will keep him from the nomination. It’s much more likely that his religion will. That and he’s a creepy little freak.
And finally Tim Pawlenty. Tim Pawlenty. Maybe if I just type his name over and over I’ll remember anything about him. Other than the fact that he calls himself T-Paw with a straight face (hell, the guy probably has sex with a straight face) and is so bad at attack politics that he practically called himself a doofus without meaning to. Actually, the best thing he has to run on is that no one really remembers anything about him. Maybe that’s his plan, hoping that voters will get into the ballot box and be so disgusted with everyone else that they’ll vote for that Tim Paw-Something guy that they’ve heard mentioned on television.
But in spite of his charisma deficiency, it’s important to note that Tim Pawlenty (jeez, I can’t even spell his name without forgetting what I’m typing) is a short sighted bullet point generating idiot. And to prove my point, here are his brilliant thoughts on how to reform (and by reform I mean eradicate) Medicare. “It will include something called performance pay. We will begin to move providers from getting paid not just for the volume of procedures they crank out, but whether people are actually getting healthier and getting better.”
Now, any of you out there that are actual medical professionals are probably extracting your fists from your computer monitors right now, but I’ll explain the problem for those of you that aren’t already frothing at the mouth. The very reason that Medicare is both so expensive and so necessary is that it universally covers people at an age where no other insurance carrier would want them enrolled. At an age when medical costs skyrocket and when injuries and illnesses become more common, more dangerous, and infinitely more complex.
Any system that “rewards success” by its very nature punishes failure. A “performance pay” Medicare system would force providers to question what impact certain procedures and even certain patients will have on their success rate. That sure does sound a whole freaking lot like “putting government bureaucrats between people and their doctors” to me. Which, of course, is incredibly bad.
Unless a Republican does it.