I plead with all the writers, journalists, pundits, posters, commenters and tweeters of the nation: Please stop calling the Republican field a clown car. It was funny and image-provoking the first hundred times I read it. Now it’s the quip that won’t die.
Also, in fairness, it’s an insult to clowns. While I’m not exactly a fan of oversized footwear and white face, clowns at least have a whimsical premise. The GOP’s presidential hopefuls are cruel, dismissive and—I’ll say it—mean. They’re bad. Bad on science, bad on basic civics, bad on foreign policy and bad on economics. And they’ve already managed this election cycle to be (yet again) bad on rape.
How can one be on the wrong side of rape? Shocking, I know. Mike Huckabee thinks a 10-year-old rape victim should not be allowed to get an abortion. Why would anyone want more rapists having babies and more 10-year-olds being mothers? See? Just bad.
They’re bad on science. Not just the Creationist with an iPhone Paradox variety either. But science denial. “I’m not a scientist,” yipped Marco Rubio when asked the fundamental question about climate change, the fundamental national security issue of our time. He’s not a scientist? I’m not an engineer, but I can at least I know I’m qualified to say bridges exist.
Scott Walker this week told reporters his bald spot is because he hit his head on a sink a few years ago. Male pattern baldness—probably one of the most ubiquitous and common afflictions in the history of the human experience (second only to death) and Walker has his own weird lie he tells reporters about it. What’s next? Discussion about baby delivery hours for storks? That’s how bad the GOP field is on basic biology—they can’t even admit balding is real.
Ben Carson, who is a doctor and therefore kind of a scientist, is actually just really bad on civics. He and the other doctor (cough) in the field don’t understand what the Constitution actually does besides pepper their boilerplate. In an interview with Chris Wallace, Carson said: “The way our Constitution is set up, the president or the executive branch is obligated to carry out the laws of the land. The laws of the land, according to our Constitution, are provided by the legislative branch. The laws of the land are not provided by the judiciary.” Yeah, that’s not actually right. And, of course, Paul famously said, “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so.”
Uh. Yeah, it does. That’s in fact how that works.
The one woman—actually a businesswoman—who’s never held public office but not for lack of trying, Carly Fiorina, when asked how she’d rein in the power of the Chamber of Commerce, mistakenly assumed it was a government agency (it’s not) and proclaimed it was too big. The Chamber is—wait for it—a private organization for the betterment of business. And she’s the failed former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. See? Bad!
Jeb Bush, who even with two former presidents fundraising for him and universal name recognition is still polling near the margin of error in Iowa hits most of the lowlights in his party. He thinks half a billion dollars a year on women’s health care is just too much. This is the guy whose last major decision about a woman’s health care was for Terri Schaivo. He used the power of the government to keep a brain dead woman alive against her wishes and those of her significant other. He’s bad on science, bad on public policy and bad on simple human decency.
Speaking of human decency, Mexicans deserve it. Even undocumented ones. The GOP needs to stop using Mexican immigrants to get angry white people to vote for them. Angry white people will already vote for them. This election cycle kicked off with (still) front-runner Donald Trump saying the Mexican government is sending all their rapists here. These are human beings who are deeply ingrained in our economy, history and culture. The situation at the border is a humanitarian crisis, not a tee-ball to score cheap political points.
On foreign policy the entire lot seems to just say, “I support Israel” to get an applause line and go back to bashing poor people. Bush wants to send more troops into Iraq (a sentence I just cut and pasted from 2007). The others think saber rattling over Iran is sage because it gets them attention.
These are not clowns. Clowns are harmless (and a little creepy). These are people who should never have any real political power. These are your drunken uncle’s Thanksgiving dinner diatribes now charading as a major policy discussions.
This is bad.
Photo by Tim Pierce