I know everyone is chomping at the bit for some local election analysis, and I am working on beautiful spreadsheets to share with you fine folks, but as we wait for the final totals from the auditor's office, I want to talk a little bit about the Republican field of candidates.
Frankly, they suck, and I don't say that to be mean or insulting. I say that because they are such a weak field. Most of the really impressive candidates either passed on the opportunity (Jim DeMint), wanted to wait for an easier year (Chris Christie) or haven't solidified their power base yet (Eric Cantor). The Democrats ran into the same problem in 2004, where our strongest candidates sat it out, and we were left with a less than impressive cast of characters (although I believe Howard Dean could have done quite well).
So who did the Republicans throw up (yes, intentional choice of words) for the nomination this year? Sarah Palin 2.0 (Michele Bachmann)? Newt "I have more baggage than TSA" Gingrich? Herman Cain? Jon Huntsman, who would be pretty darn tough if anyone bothered to pay attention. Rick Santorum? The reliably-impressive-but-never-going-to get-the-nod Ron Paul? Okay, understandably that's the second tier of candidates, but the top tier isn't that top.
Rick Perry looked pretty imposing when he launched. A governor of a huge state, $15 million in the bank, folksy charm; there were a couple weeks where I thought, "Wow, this guy might give Obama a run for his money." Then Rick Perry opened his mouth, and we learned three things about him. One, he's hilarious when drunk, two, he can't launch a good attack to save his political life and three . . . and three . . . um . . . he . . . uh, let's see here. Hilarious when drunk, can't launch an attack . . . uh . . . there's three, that's for sure. Um . . . I can't remember. Oops!
So that just leaves Mitt Romney. Which brings me to the main point: Michael Bluth from Arrested Development. For those of you who haven't seen the short-lived but incredibly brilliant sitcom, Michael Bluth is the one competent person who is drawn into the family business after his father is arrested for Enron-style shenanigans. He is surrounded by his skeezball older brother, his ditzy sister, his sheltered younger brother, his bizarre brother-in-law, his drunk mother, and the rest of the insanity of his family. He ends up running the company simply by default. He's by no means a good guy, often bitter and callous, but he often comes through just because there is no one else.
Is that Mitt Romney's fate? To be the last man standing just because everyone else self-destructs? That might do for the primary, but you have got to build some confidence before you hit the general. I actually find this whole deficit of strong candidates a bit disappointing from a good government point of view.
Look, I want to see Barack Obama re-elected, but I also want him to answer for some of the mistakes of his administration, and without strong opposition, that's not going to happen. Elections are a necessary process by which elected officials have to answer for what they have done, and I'm worried that the opposition is so deeply flawed this year, we won't get a thorough review of Obama's first term, and that worries me.
So shape up, Republican field! Arrested Development, and consequently Michael Bluth, was pulled off the air before its time because of, ironically, stiff competition from other inferior shows (Reality TV). I would hate for the Republican primary to be equally anti-climatic. Bring your A-game folks, because right now, all we are seeing is comedy hour.