What with one thing and another, the Republicans are in for some difficulty in this election year, and they certainly didn’t have to add to their woes by offering the candidates they have. Mind you, I have nothing against Rick, Mitt and Newt. For all I know, they are exemplary human beings who are kind to dogs and children and pay their taxes on time. It is the names that are the problem. Among other things, it is going to be extremely difficult for a talk show host to keep a straight face when introducing them on his show. “Hi, everybody, we’re happy to have with us today three people who might become president of the United States—Rick, Mitt and Newt.” I am aware that at this writing Mitt seems to be out-distancing Rick and Newt, but in politics things can change fast, and there is no telling where we will be come November.
Take, for example, what is likely to happen when they are introduced to some foreign dignitary. “Hi, Monsieur Sarkozy. I’m Newt and this is Rick and Mitt.” Sarkozy is not known for his tact and could well double over with laughter.
It is, of course, only fair to note that the current president has a funny name, too. It sounds like the noises children make when they are playing war with stick guns. “Barack, barack, I got you, Charlie.” But the name Barack Obama, while a little out of the ordinary, isn’t funny. If anything, it’s a little too serious. Even the most reckless villain would think twice before going down a dark alley with a guy named Barack Obama.
The same cannot be said of Mitt, Rick and Newt. In fact, these are the cuddly sort of names children give to their pet goldfish. You and I and other putative grownups can’t tell one of the finny darlings from the other, but a six-year-old child can instantly identify which one is Rick, which one Mitt, and so forth, and will carefully explain it to you. “Rick’s the one with spots on his tail. Newt is kind curious about things and likes to sit by the glass looking out at the living room. He can tell people apart. When Mom comes into the room he waggles his fins.”
I examine the child’s face, looking for signs of dementia. “The goldfish can recognize people?”
“Sure. Especially Mom. She gives him fish food.”
This is the sort of thing that the Republicans are going to have trouble with in the current election: like the child’s goldfish, the candidates are hard to tell apart. Among other things, none of them seems to have spots on his tail, although of course I can’t be sure about this. According to what I read in the newspapers, Santorum seems to be a bit on the gloomy side, a sort of glass-is-half-empty type. Mind you, I don’t know this as fact, it is only what the newspapers tell me. (Of course one of the newspapers I read is still trying to bring back Herbert Hoover—they liked his economic policy, which was to get the poor off the backs of the rich, who were paying huge taxes to allow widows and orphans to live in luxury in welfare hotels.) Santorum, says this paper, is the “angry everyman,” and believes that his “gloom dooms him.”
Yet, this doesn’t seem to be enough to separate him from Mitt and Newt. They all seem to believe that if the country is to be made safe for conservatism, he must be elected. For my part, I have no objection to the country being made safe for conservatism: liberals are always being serious and responsible and aren’t much fun. Conservatives are far more amusing. For example, Santorum is accusing Romney of wanting to improve the environment and provide cheap abortions, which suggests that Santorum favors damaging the environment and providing expensive abortions. I know this doesn’t sound right, but I get it from the New York Times. The New York Times isn’t perfect, but it can’t have made a mistake like that.
However, Mitt defends himself by pointing out that when he was Governor of Massachusetts he favored saving the environment, but that it is wrong for President Obama to do so. This also doesn’t sound right, but who am I to question the veracity of the New York Times? Meanwhile, Santorum seems to be saying that nobody is right, apparently including the goldfish. The only problem with this is that the goldfish don’t yet have the vote. I am all in favor of giving it to them. Let them figure out who would make the best president, Rick, Mitt or Newt.