Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pawlenty of Nothing

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is out of the GOP presidential race after coming in third to Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul.

It’s not like he had much of a chance, anyway; the GOP wants red meat and all he was offering was cold chicken.

Any bets on the next one to go? My guess is that it will be former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman; he’s far too moderate on issues like immigration and gun control for this crowd, he worked in the Obama administration, and he’s a Mormon. Any one of those would not pass muster with the virulent Tea Partiers, and he’s got the trifecta.

The most obvious ones who should get the hint are Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, but both of them are too egocentric to believe that they can’t win. Besides, Mr. Santorum is too wound up in his obsession with gay sex to let it go. (He really should just lock himself in the bathroom with a bottle of baby oil and a Speedo catalogue and get it over with.)

Frank Bruni has a great article in the New York Times about the Iowa trip.

It was an intensely dispiriting spectacle, because it was an entirely familiar one: the same old same old at a moment of extraordinary global uncertainty and profound national anxiety. Americans are more frightened and pessimistic — and Washington is more dysfunctional — than they’ve been in a very long time. But the script in Iowa was unchanged.

Photo op followed photo op. Prefabricated one-liners abounded. Strenuously, speciously folksy riffs and poses prevailed. And candidates vying for the opportunity to lead a diverse nation nonetheless played a tired game of Excite the Right, dwelling on their opposition to gay marriage and trumpeting their anti-abortion credentials. Those aren’t and can’t be the issues this time around. Not with the European debt crisis threatening to become a worldwide contagion, London burning, the Arab world convulsing, the Dow jackhammering and America’s crisis of joblessness grinding on and on. Not now.

It’s time for nobler, smarter, more substantive politics. It’s past time, actually. But that’s not what Iowa presented.

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to get any nobler, smarter, or more substantive, either. It never has.