With all of the finger-pointing, gesticulating, spite, retorts, nasty responses to retorts, robocalls and flood of oversized postcards, the presidential primary process has become a mess, more of a reality television show than reality.
It’s as if the grind of politics, which has been the social equivalent to a root canal for many, has become a caricature of itself. It’s as if real people are really acting like cartoon characters.
Wait — let’s explore that notion a little, at least to have a little fun with what’s going on (because everybody is so serious that they have sucked dry the fun that politics can be).
So if our presidential politics were taken over by fictional equivalents of current candidates, who would they be? Here’s a list of possibilities on the Republican side:
- Donald Trump: How about ALF, the blustery but friendly extraterrestrial from a sitcom of the 1986-1990 sitcom of the same name? At least the hair is the same. And, opponents might say, Trump is also from outer space on some days.
- Marco Rubio: An easy one — Batman’s sidekick Robin, the boy wonder?
- Ted Cruz: Grandpa Munster, nickname for Vladimir Dracula, count of Transylvania in “the Munsters,” 1964-66)? Cruz certainly isn’t as old, but with a cape and some makeup — he could be a doppelganger for the fictional character.
- Jeb Bush: Droopy, the animated cartoon white dog with black ears and a droopy face? The notion of droopiness kind of sums up what’s become of the former Florida governor’s campaign.
- John Kasich: Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes? Isn’t the Ohio governor and former congressman kind of a mix of the devilish pragmatist with a streak of boy-next-door geekiness?
- Ben Carson: A modern-day version of Jerry Lewis’s character in The Absent-minded Professor? Sometimes the doctor seems to be more in the lab than on the campaign trail.
And the Democrats:
- Hillary Clinton: Lisa Simpson? Smart and self-assured, but suffering in the shadow of someone much more popular and fun?
- Bernie Sanders: Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown, the fictional Ph.D. played by actor Christopher Lloyd in the Back to the Future movie trilogy.
So now that we know the fictional players, let’s stretch this mind game a little further — at least it’s more fun that watching another strident television commercial. What would happen if these characters were to face off in a single-elimination tournament format like the NCAA basketball championship?
First up on the Republican side are the establishment candidates: Boy Wonder, doing well in the polls, gets a bye before facing Droopy Dog and Calvin. Calvin wins the opening match, but loses despite a lot of newspaper support in the second round to Boy Wonder.
Then there are the Republican anti-establishment candidates: Alf, the alien, gets a bye. That leaves Grandpa Munster to face the Absent-Minded Professor, who loses embarrassingly. Then Munster, full of gusto and venom tries to knock off Alf, but the superpowers and hair are just too much.
The final GOP round finds Boy Wonder versus Alf. It’s close for awhile, but Alf throws a punch or two from outer space and Boy Wonder looks like a deer in headlights (remember the debate with Chris Christie?) Alf wins.
On the Democratic side, there’s no need for any elimination rounds so it’s just Lisa Simpson versus Doc. Both are smart and sassy, but Doc’s hare-brained ideas just don’t keep up with Lisa’s determination and drive to succeed. Lisa wins in overtime.
So the big championship game, after many contests and much time on the court, winds up being Alf against Lisa Simpson.
Who do you think would win?
South Carolina’s primaries may do something to clarify what’s really happening in the presidential primary process. But with the way this season has been going, it’s probably more likely that things will get much muddier before they settle down.