You could be forgiven for thinking April Fool’s Day has already been and gone this year, considering all the nuttiness in the (non)presidential race.
On the Republican side alone, the past few weeks have more resembled a grade-school playground than anything approaching maturity. If candidates aren’t fighting about the size of their (ahem) hands, they’re making insinuations about scandals and other candidates’ wives. When even Jerry Springer denounces the proceedings, you know something’s wrong.
On the Democratic side, which in comparison is quiet, we have an avowed socialist and Vermin Supreme. No, that’s not Hillary. Hillary Clinton has far more problems than the fashion faux pas of wearing a boot on your head.
This race, more than ever before in my memory, seems to be one huge April Fool’s joke. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the evidence.
♠ Donald Trump, the one-man gaffe machine
If it didn’t all result in free publicity for T-Rump, I’d say members of the media owe him a commission. What upsets many people in the U.S. and abroad isn’t just his constant contradiction of himself, or his advocating of violence against dissenters, or the insults he’s pointed toward Muslims, women, blacks, the disabled, people who aren’t named Trump, etc. And it’s not the rambling and nonsensical interview with the Washington Post editorial board that ultimately contained little, if any, substance, or his demonstrated lack of military-, domestic- and foreign-policy knowledge.
It’s that no matter how many times his statements have been conclusively proved to be false, he has a very loud, loyal and sometimes violent following that will back him up.
♠ Hillary walks the dog
Hillary, like Barack Obama before her, has a strange ability to deliver just what her detractors want: anything that, divorced from context, makes her seem out-of-touch, crazy and/or evil. She’s not exactly warm and fuzzy (or spontaneous), but she can tell a funny story occasionally, like the recent tale about a radio ad she heard in Arkansas years ago in which a dog was trained to bark whenever a politician told a lie. All haters saw was her barking; no need to find out why. Just like that photo of her in Wicked Witch of the West pose ducking a shoe, those few seconds went viral.
Really, though, if you’re going to attack someone, it’s better to do it on something of substance (and Lord, is there a lot of material in Hillary’s baggage). Going for the easy laugh is not exactly admirable.
♠ Well, he’s Ted Cruz
Cruz and his wife are just the latest of Trump’s many targets, but most of the time I’m reminded of a slap-fight between 5-year-olds (no offense intended to 5-year-olds). There’s certainly no gentlemanly behavior between these two. And Cruz is so well-liked, I just can’t imagine … oh … never mind.
And it certainly shouldn’t matter that Cruz has lied numerous times during the campaign (and before), including saying that he had no insurance because of Obamacare, or that he seemed at one point to advocate spanking Hillary.
Because he wasn’t creepy enough already.
♠ The socialist man scared me, Mama
Sure, a bird landed on Bernie Sanders’ lectern at a recent campaign stop and sat to listen in a Disney-esque moment of weirdness (thus launching the “Birdie Sanders” meme), but he’s a socialist, and therefore scary. Which is why that Bloomberg News video clip of him doing a monster impression obviously indicates what he would do as president.
But that mashup with Trump’s scared reaction at an Ohio rally makes it all worth it. I’ll even forgive the improbability of most of his policy ideas making it into law.
♠ Domo arigato, Marco Roboto
Well, at least now Marco Rubio has something that might make people forget that strange 2013 GOP response speech to the State of the Union address in which substance got short shrift and a teensy water bottle took center stage. Unfortunately, his robotic response to Chris Christie’s attack in a Republican debate in February might have been the last straw for his political relevance.
But hey, comedy shows and YouTube video makers got a lot of traction from Marco Roboto (including a masterful reimagining of Styx’s “Mr. Roboto”), so they’re happy.
♠ That was just creepy
The first Democratic debate of this campaign had several cringe-worthy moments (did Lincoln Chafee ever drop that weird, lost-looking smile??), but perhaps none more than that of former Sen. Jim Webb’s answer when asked whom he was proudest to call his enemy: “I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me. But he’s not around right now to talk to.”
Note to Senator Webb: If you’re going to say something like that, don’t smile immediately afterward. And pass it along to Chafee, too, please.
♠ Ben Carson’s not so smart
It’s not just the calling out of a fifth-grader on a campaign stop, or his belief that Joseph built the Egyptian pyramids to store grain or that Satan encouraged Charles Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution, or that Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Abbas palled around in college in Moscow in 1968. Or even that he has now endorsed Trump, with whom he shared victimhood wrought by the evil press. (How dare the media investigate someone’s statements!!!)
For me, it’s his idea that his embellished personal stories are sacrosanct and shouldn’t be questioned. Dude, it’s not only fair to question your words, it’s kind of the job we in the media signed up to do. The simplest way to not have to face such questioning is to tell the truth in the first place.
And by the way, it’s not naptime yet. (Yeah, I know … easy laugh … sometimes you just have to do it.)
♠ Vermin Supreme … really
A longtime joke candidate, the boot-behatted dude managed to get 260 votes in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, nearly twice as many as real candidate Jim Gilmore got (133) on the Republican side. Sure, he promises a free pony for every American and is pro-zombie-preparedness, but are we really so easily swayed?
Please tell me no.
I have to admit to being a little disappointed that April Fool’s Day did not fall on Wednesday this year. I would have so loved coming up with some outrageous satire for my column that someone would inevitably believe to be true (nope, those “satire” tags don’t seem to register with some people). But alas, it didn’t happen, nor did I make the Voices page the “Voices in my Head” page, and I didn’t do it last year when it was on Wednesday, either. Oh, well.
The next time April 1 is on a Wednesday is in 2020 … a presidential election year … how fitting.
Someone probably should be getting my straitjacket ready, especially if Kanye follows through with his threat to run for president.