Well, that was edifying, wasn’t it? Last night, CNN gathered a bunch of rich assholes together to pretend that Barack Obama is Stalin reincarnated and to explain in vague terms about how they would restore America to its vanished glory by taking medical care away from women and poor people and declaring war on someone. Just like everyone else you muted on Twitter, I watched the whole thing, and here’s my scorecard of the overprivileged, nationalistic clowns who want us to pick them to ruin the country for the next four years. More later on the ‘meaning’ of the current front-runners, but for now, enjoy!
JEB BUSH, a.k.a. “The Flabby Prince”, unemployed legacy and former Florida governor.
Qualifications: Blood relation of two former U.S. presidents.
Platform: “You voted for my wussy dad and idiot brother, why not vote for me?”.
Performance: At this point Jeb is just running on the fumes of being part of the Bush family, but that may just be enough to get him the nod. Scored a big cheer from the crowd, and a bitter laugh from the rest of America, by claiming his brother “kept America safe”. Has terrible views on everything and zero personal charisma (he is a 62-year-old man who is terrified that his mother found out he smoked pot), but has the backing of the G.O.P. establishment and is bland enough to keep failing upwards.
BEN CARSON, a.k.a. “The Black Guy”, unemployed neurosurgeon.
Qualifications: Fills the “African-American conservative” token spot so badly needed for Republicans to claim they aren’t racist formerly held by Herman Cain and Alan Keyes.
Platform: “I’m really smart, where am I, what is happening”.
Performance: Carson, who always looks like he just woke up from a long nap, has absolutely nothing worthwhile to say about anything and is basically just there to perform the same function as Elroy Patashnik. In a perfect illustration of how degraded Republican politics are in the 2010s, allowed himself, as a fucking pediatric neurosurgeon, to be drawn into a debate about whether or not vaccines give children autism. Will follow Cain and Keyes into rich-black-conservative obscurity within weeks.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, a.k.a. “Tubby Soprano”, governor of New Jersey.
Qualifications: Able to wrap himself in working-class Jersey mystique while being an otherwise typically corrupt G.O.P. hack who ignores the will of the people and collects crony kickback.
Platform: “I will punch America’s problems in the face”.
Performance: Came across as an actual human being who can communicate and display recognizable emotions, which is a victory of sorts for this crowd, but generally laid down the reasons he is totally unelectable by overplaying his phony tough-guy act. His 9/11 credentials fooled nobody, his defense of the working man is a joke in light of his constant looting of union pensions, and it’s unthinkable to imagine him carrying on a conversation with a foreign dignitary. Will bow out far too late.
TED CRUZ, a.k.a. “The White Latino”, U.S. senator from Texas.
Qualifications: Has assessed the political mood of the conservative citizenry of Texas and has applied it ruthlessly.
Platform: “Fuck Everybody”.
Performance: Cruz’s relentless lunacy will turn all but the most extreme voters off, and those people already have Trump. It was kind of fun to watch him contort his weird face and try to make everyone worry that ISIS was about to cross the Oklahoma border and that he’s the only one who can stop them, but in terms of electability, he’s dead in the water. He even looks ridiculous in comparison to Rick Perry, who isn’t even in the race anymore.
CARLY FIORINA, a.k.a. “The Female”, former Hewlett-Packard Executive.
Qualifications: Made a bunch of money as a tech company CEO despite running company into the ground.
Platform: “Innovation and potential”.
Performance: Fiorina did pretty well all things considered, just by getting to say things in a room full of Republican men. She got off at least one zinger against Donald Trump, and she picked up most of the night’s big cheer lines by merely acknowledging the existence of women as a political bloc. That said, she said absolutely nothing of substance, made a lot of sour faces, and pushed the same ultra-bland corporate blather that the G.O.P. has spewed for the last 70 years. She’d be a lock if she didn’t have a vagina.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, a.k.a. “Swingin’ Single”, U.S. senator from South Carolina.
Qualifications: Is going for a kind of freewheeling, obnoxious-but-fun-loving Bruce Willis kind of thing.
Platform: “Be the only person on your block to vote for me”.
Performance: Graham has been the most hopeless of the G.O.P. candidates ever since he announced, and even at the kid’s-table preliminaries last night he seemed hopelessly out of his depth. It was pretty fun watching him chase the extreme right in desperate hopes of getting someone, anyone, to vote for him, and he provided some severely delusional moments of fear-mongering and terror-panic, but he’ll be back to shuffling around Columbia soon enough, looking for something to do.
MIKE HUCKABEE, a.k.a. “The Original Grandpa Jesus”, unemployed religious huckster.
Qualifications: Caters to the decreasing number of Americans who enjoy heartless right-wing politics but want to inflict suffering on poor minorities in the name of Jesus instead of profit.
Platform: “God gets the deciding vote on the Supreme Court”.
Performance: Huckabee didn’t engage the voters in 2012, and he’s engaging them even less now. His brand of folksy theocratic authoritarianism was already wearing thin twenty years ago, and he has no chance of drawing votes in any big cities or even populous counties outside the middle west. His entertainment value is limited to contortions about how the Constitution says what God tell us it does.
BOBBY JINDAL, a.k.a. “Piyush”, governor of Louisiana.
Qualifications: Somehow managed to make Louisiana even worse after Hurricane Katrina.
Platform: “Please notice me”.
Performance: We’re all going to miss Bobby when he’s gone. His policies have turned Louisiana into an open sewer, he’s an opportunistic and craven panderer, he has no ideas that aren’t both unoriginal and bad, his desperate need to be popular and accepted are hilariously incompatible with his odorous personality, and his decision to make a name for himself by taking on Donald Trump has been truly entertaining. His career will be over exactly five seconds after he leaves office, but man, was he fun.
JOHN KASICH, a.k.a. “The Anti-Dennis Kucinich”, governor of Ohio.
Qualifications: Relatively scandal-free governor of largish midwestern state, making him pretty much a lock for the vice-presidency if he doesn’t get caught fucking a dead cow.
Platform: “A dull man for exciting times”.
Performance: Kasich won a lot of admirers last time out by dint of not coming across as a complete idiot; while his policies are still rotten, he at least seems like someone who has bothered to familiarize himself with the issues, even if he has the wrong solutions to them. However, he’s also very, very boring; he looks like he should be doing your taxes, and his pandering isn’t base enough to win voters just as his business centrism isn’t stolid enough to win over the party kingmakers.
GEORGE PATAKI, a.k.a. “Pati-Cakes”, unemployed former governor of New York.
Qualifications: Is the most exciting person named George currently running for President.
Platform: “Vote for the Governor of 9/11”.
Performance: Pataki’s truly pitiful campaign was doomed from the beginning, and while he’s staked out a position as the most reasonable, least offensive Republican running for president, that still makes him the least rabies-infected wolf in the pack. His sad-sack droning at the kid’s table was almost as snore-inducing as listening to Ben Carson try to think up an idea, and his attempt to position himself as a hero of 9/11 is even less believable than Chris Christie’s. Should take up shuffleboard any day now.
RAND PAUL, a.k.a. “rEVOLution Jr.”, U.S. senator from Kentucky.
Qualifications: Jheri-curled offspring of beloved Libertarian.
Platform: “Slightly less racist and monomaniacal than my dad”.
Performance: Rand Paul is hopeless. When he tries to be an ideologically pure libertarian, the voters turn him down, because he’s not the kind of warmongering, bloodthirsty law & order type they crave, but when he tries to pander, he’s way out of his depth and flails around, quoting Latin and using irony. Too smart to get nominated and too stupid to be President if he was.
MARCO RUBIO, a.k.a. “The Hispanic Latino”, U.S. senator from Florida.
Qualifications: Presents the acceptable face of Latino Americans by being successful, articulate, and conservative.
Platform: “Ronald Reagan”.
Performance: After being ignored for the first hour and a half of the debate, Rubio came on strong by forcefully and directly stating his warmed-over trickle-down economics and pro-business views, and never letting America forget how much it loved that shitbag Ronald Reagan. Probably not appealing enough to the illiterati to lock up the honky vote, but an appealing centrist Republican and a sure-fire swayer of the handful of Floridian voters who don’t think George Zimmerman is an American hero.
RICK SANTORUM, a.k.a. “The Human Sex Act”, unemployed reactionary gadabout.
Qualifications: Will never ever let you forget that homosexuals are bad no matter how little you care.
Platform: “The Guy Who Really Really Hates Gay Marriage”.
Performance: It’s really kind of a shame: Rick Santorum is one of the most intelligent and articulate men in the field, and he’s usually pretty respectable as a speaker, even as the things he says are completely insane. The trouble is, he’s intelligent and articulate in service of a degraded throwback morality that even the Catholic Church doesn’t really care that much about anymore, so he just keeps pounding at the ‘traditional morality’ stuff with the sweaty passion of, well, a gay porno movie.
DONALD TRUMP, a.k.a. “Donald Mayonnaise”, egomaniacal plutocrat/ding-dong.
Qualifications: Inherited a bunch of money and likes being on television.
Platform: “I am a classy guy”.
Performance: Trump has been the headline-grabber of this election cycle, so the moderators were desperate to talk about him while implying they were giving everyone equal time. It’s hard to debate Trump on the issues, since he has mastered the “duh-doy” style of debate, but after dominating the first half, he sort of faded in the second, clamming up out of a combination of ignorance and boredom. This just showed how his heart really isn’t in this, and that he’ll quit once he realized there’s no real payoff.
SCOTT WALKER, a.k.a. “Cruella DeVil”, governor of Wisconsin.
Qualifications: Is Paul Ryan wearing a different tie.
Platform: “I will help you — INTO THE GRAVE”.
Performance: Walker’s combination of hostility, paranoia, and defensiveness assures that he’ll never get elected even if he wasn’t one of the most reviled politicians in America. His constant claims to be helping the working class by destroying all of their protections, institutions, and organizations is pretty hard to take, leaving the fact that he has zero chance of winning the nomination the only consolation. Will soon return in shame to the state that he champions to finish ruining everything good about it.