As a resident of New Hampshire, it’s hard for me to miss the spastic surges of activity that precede the upcoming Republican primary. On the one hand, I find this year’s contest refreshing, since it’s one of the first years since 1976 (when, as an eager 11-year-old, I cheered on Reagan’s challenge to the torpid Gerald Ford) that the Republican contest doesn’t feel like something that party bosses had already chewed up and were leaning down to spit into the voters’ beaks. The debates, and with them the contests for the nomination, seem a whole lot more real, and the entire process could prove more authentically representative. Which would be a good thing, assuming we’re not a bunch of nuts—and that remains to be seen.
On the down side, the candidates are each profoundly flawed, and I worry that the outcome will be ugly: that we’ll end up with someone waving the party banner whose many problems will make it easy for the Democrats to re-elect their flaccid, bloodless bumbler, who will duly anoint two more appalling justices to the Court, who will use his authority to back still more assaults on religious liberty. So I’m at once edified, and worried. This suggests that it might be time for me to undertake a careful assessment of each candidate’s electability, character, and leadership qualities, and judiciously assess their proposed policies in the light of Catholic teaching and profane prudence.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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But I got bored even writing that sentence, and I’m sure your eyes glazed over while reading it. So instead, I elected to view the campaign through the colorful prism of two old friends whom readers may remember, Franz and Rayne.
Franz: So what do you think of the outcome of the Ethanol Caucuses?
Rayne: I am so sad for poor Michelle Bachmann. That woman impressed me on so many levels… she deserved to make a better showing.
Franz: Now that she has dropped out of the race, the debates will be a lot harder to look at.
Rayne: I know! Any woman who can have that many children, accomplish all that she has, and still look like that—ahem, without any surgery, thank you very much, Miss Alaska—wins my respect. She’s a role model for the rest of us.
Franz: And a beacon of hope for us men. Fertility need not turn you into a fertility goddess. Becoming the Venus of Willendorf (or Homer of Springfield) is a choice.
Rayne: And a disgraceful one if you ask me. But I digress. I was thrilled to see her rip out Rick Perry’s lungs over Gardasil and taxpayer funding of tuition for illegal immigrants. Living in Texas, I can tell you that keeping Rick Perry out of the White House is a service to our country that ought to win that woman a medal.
Franz: But she did go over the top by feeding into the paranoia some people already have about vaccines in general. That was a trip into black helicopter territory.
Rayne: But that wasn’t what killed her chances. I think it was that Newsweek cover where they caught her looking like a Stepford Wife whose programming had gone haywire, who was ready to wipe out the neighborhood.
Franz: Or it reminded them of her foreign policy, which amounts to “invade the whole Muslim world so they attack Israel and force Jesus to come again to protect it.” That didn’t help.
Rayne: Which ever photo editor picked that image really did put a stop to her rise in the polls, which taught me something about the voters.
Franz: What’s that?
Rayne: They’re even shallower than we are.
Rayne: But they’re not completely insane, which does explain Newt Gingrich’s fall from grace. Leave aside his private lives and public wives—people are all too forgiving of that sort of thing. Once voters figured out that he really did want to mine the moon at taxpayer expense, they realized he wasn’t exactly the next Ronald Reagan.
Franz: More like America’s answer to King Ludwig of Bavaria. Or Napoleon III.
Rayne: Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what the corn farmers of Iowa were thinking.
Franz: Gingrich is the only Republican nominee who could manage to lose to Obama by a landslide. Give that man a microphone for a few more months, and the crackpot ideas that will jump out of his mouth will scare so many conservatives into staying home, I doubt Gingrich would carry Highland Park or Staten Island.
Rayne: He’d drive all the Klansmen of New Jersey into writing in Ron Paul.
Franz: Speaking of which…. I was genuinely creeped out by what was published in those old newsletters. I’m not sure which is more unnerving—that he used to believe that racist claptrap, or that he was so disengaged from what was coming out under his name that he didn’t know about it.
Rayne: I think it was what it looks like: A stupidly short-sighted cynical ploy on the part of libertarians who worked for him to tap into anti-government sentiment on the part of rubes and eugenicists. For someone who seems almost crackbrained, he’s so principled, it is a very curious lapse.
Franz: Of course, we have a president who for 20 years went to church with a Commie, “kill-whitey,” pastor, Jeremiah Wright. But John McCain was too spooked by racial guilt to mention it, so it went down the Memory Hole.
Rayne: Those newsletters won’t. And Ron Paul brought this on himself when he accused other candidates of hating gays and Muslims. That’s not the card you play when you’ve got skinhead newsletters in your past.
Franz: It’s a pity, because on the issues Ron Paul is the only candidate remotely qualified to claim the mantle of Ronald Reagan. The greatest threat to the security of this country is our impending fiscal collapse, which he is the only candidate willing to look at honestly. It turns out, we really can’t afford to, simultaneously:
- Prepare for imminent war with the Soviet Union.
- Occupy and democratize the entire Muslim world.
- Use the Department of Education to equalize the test scores of every child in America.
- Bail out high-rolling banks for underwriting mortgages buying McMansions for people on food stamps.
- Fund every American’s retirement at age 65 to a gated community, cosmetic surgery, and monthly trips to Vegas.
- Outsource all our child-bearing, manual labor, and military service to immigrants.
- Borrow the money to fund all of this from the Chinese, while rattling sabers at them all across the Pacific Rim.
Ron Paul’s the only candidate who sees how insane all this is. So of course people write him off as crazy.
Rayne: Which he very well might be.
Franz: Agreed. But I’m still voting for him.
Rayne: What about Rick Santorum?
Franz: If we could vote for him as “President of the United States,” and not “Galactic Overlord,” I might consider it. But when he was out in the political wilderness after getting killed in his last Senate campaign, Santorum recovered his fortunes the same way Gingrich did: On the rubber-chicken warmonger circuit, running around telling neoconservatives how the U.S. needed to gird itself for imminent military action against…. fill in the blank. Iran. Venezuela. Quebec. While I deeply admire Santorum’s embrace of Natural Law principles, and his real understanding of the centrality of the family to society, I think that as a Catholic we have to consider him a dissenter: His policies really reject the Church’s teaching on Just War—which is not, sorry to say, “Just war… just because.”
Rayne: Any interest in the John Huntsman brand?
Franz: He seems to think he can win the nomination by carpeting New Hampshire with yard signs that look like logos for Abercrombie and Fitch….
Rayne: Every time he opens his mouth, he rolls his eyes or purses his lips. Before each statement, he might as well add on: “As I’ve been trying to tell you Neanderthals for months….”
Franz: Huntsman’s in the wrong race. He ought to be running for Duke of Burgundy.
Rayne: What about Mitt Romney? I don’t know if I could look at that hair for four long years.
Franz: I imagine I could hold my nose hard enough to vote for Romney against Obama, but only because I think he’s enough of an opportunist that he won’t betray us on social issues. He sold his soul to get elected in Massachusetts, and now it seems that we’ve outbid the liberals and bought it back. As president, would he put on it eBay again, and appoint pro-abortion judges to the Court? I really doubt it. His own church would disown him, and the Republicans in Congress would roast him slowly over the flames for the next several years.
Rayne: That’s not the only issue. What about the fact that he supported a legal mandate that everybody get health insurance?
Franz: That’s something we Tea Party types had better think about long and hard. Currently hospitals are legally forced to treat anybody who shows up—whether or not they can pay. That means the rest of us foot the bill. How exactly is that fair?
Rayne: I know several white trash, “$30,000 millionaires” who skip getting health insurance so they can spend the money on Botox. They know that if worse comes to worst, they’ll just go to the emergency ward, like all those illegal immigrants who get hurt on the job. Doesn’t cost their employers a dime.
Franz: So either we have to eliminate the legal mandate of care so deadbeats don’t get treated (except to keep them from dying) or we force people to buy insurance, or else we can go ahead and enslave all the doctors and nurses and make them work for free. Serious tort reform would also help, so lawyers like John Edwards stop seeing jurors in malpractice cases as the little numbered balls that pop up in the lottery. But it would probably be easier repealing the 13th Amendment, so maybe the medical enslavement option is the way to go.
Rayne: Or we can just keep on piling up our national debt—taxing our children so we can enjoy all our luxuries, and pretend we’re being generous to the poor.
Franz: Who are the only ones having children, so we can stick them with the bill. That sounds like a plan. No doubt that’s what will happen.
Rayne: I’ve got to go. The Real Housewives of Atlanta is coming on.
Franz: I’ll fire up Medieval Total War. That’s a crusade we can win.