Sizing up the Underwhelming Republican Presidential Candidates

Originally appeared in Fort Collins Now
5 December 2007
Eric Fried

Watching the CNN-You Tube Republican Presidential debate last week, I had to chuckle at what passes for diversity in the GOP: eight rich, old, white guys, ranging from conservative to ultra-conservative. Since I’ve taken potshots at the Democrats before, here’s a quick rundown of your Republican presidential wannabes.

Mitt Romney – hair-dyed, blow-dried and perfect-tied – is the candidate from central casting who looks most presidential and has the most money. But Mitt has three big problems: he’s a phony who was pro-choice and pro-gay rights when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts; some folks just don’t trust Mormons; and we’ve never elected a president named for a baseball glove before.

John McCain’s window of opportunity closed in South Carolina in 2000, when the Bush campaign spread rumors that he fathered an illegitimate black baby. (Memo to Hillary: THAT’S mudslinging, not criticizing your record.) McCain used to be a straight-talking independent, for which the Republican base will not forgive him, but he has since cozied up to Christian Right leaders and called for expanding the war in Iraq. He’s yesterday’s news.

Former Senator Fred Thompson was the frontrunner – BEFORE he started running. Now he looks like a sleepy old man trying to pass a kidney stone. He’s also trying to pass himself off as an outsider, though he lives literally inside the Washington DC Beltway and has worked as a corporate lobbyist for years. Why are Republicans so enamored of actors who pretend to be tough guys?

Colorado Congressman Tom Damn-crazy is trying to ride his anti-immigration horse all the way to the White House, but most Republicans aren’t buying it. When he fails to finish in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire, his one-trick act is over.

Duncan Hunter used to be buddies with fellow LA Congressman Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, now doing time in the federal pen for corruption. Hunter has more chance of winding up there than in the Oval Office.

Former Arkansas Governor (what, again?) Mike Huckabee is surging in Iowa, and conservatives like the fact that he didn’t become conservative just in time for the primaries.

Also rising in the polls is the real straight talker, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. I agree with him on some issues, like getting out of Iraq and legalizing victimless crimes, and vehemently disagree with him on others, but I respect the guy for his consistency and courage. He’s your side’s Dennis Kucinich.

And then there’s front-runner Rudy Giuliani, fresh off his recent fly-in photo-op serving coffee in Loveland. Sure, “The Mayor of 9-11” looked heroic walking the streets of Manhattan with a dust mask, giving orders, and appearing at funerals and Yankees games. But dig a little deeper, folks. If Rudy had not ignored his aides by locating his Emergency Operations Center in the World Trade Center (which had already been attacked by terrorists in 1993), he might have had a more useful place to go. If he had used his seven years in office to give firefighters proper radios, many would have gotten out before the towers collapsed. Rudy told rescue workers the air was safe to work in without using breathing apparatus, and many are now sick and dying.

Allegations of cronyism and sweetheart deals swirl around Giuliani, and recent news is even worse. His protégé, former Police Chief and nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security Bernard Kerik was recently indicted on multiple felony charges. Kerik’s former lover Judith Regan is suing him, and has revealed they used a city apartment designated for exhausted rescue workers near Ground Zero. City taxpayers also paid for security when Rudy visited his then-girlfriend (now his third wife) on Long Island, and they carried on the affair in the Mayor’s official mansion while the wife and kids were asleep. Nice.

In short, Rudy is Dishonest, Uncaring, Bullying, Yet Arrogant. Say, maybe he IS the perfect candidate to succeed Dubya!

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