GOP Presidential Race Mimics Reality TV

Forget the Amazing Race, Survivor, or The Bachelor, the best reality show on TV today is the Republican Presidential race. It has everything these shows have and so much more.

The first episodes focused on Herman Cain, a political neophyte, definitely not the maligned “Washington insider” that voters are urged to run from, CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, and later CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Cain’s candidacy was initially met with humour, meaning “how funny is it that this guy thinks he has a chance?” But Mr. Cain fooled everyone as his bombastic, yet charismatic personality, began to charm throngs of Republican voters and independents alike. He had a lot of pluses, including his African-American heritage. For a short time he was out-polling President Obama.

Cain was able to quickly brand his message on tax reform in one simple phrase “9/9/9”. However, like scenes from The Bachelor, where one guy dates fifteen women, an entourage of women appeared on the scene, each of them alleging personal, intimate relationships with Mr. Cain. It seemed as if the parade of “tell-all” stories had no end, and when perpetual victimized female defender, Gloria Allred jumped into the fray, as she is wont to do, it was all over for Herman Cain.

Scene two developed around a new, fresh candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry. Like his colleagues, initially his ratings soared as the Republican base responded to his Texan charm and invocation of motherhood and apple pie issues for Republicans, including more guns, more jails and less dependence on government.

However, he too faded fast when it became apparent that he resembled the typical airhead blonde on The Bachelor. He couldn’t keep up with the big boys when it came to public speaking, debating or analyzing core issues. The nail in his coffin was his exclamation “Oops” in one of his last debate appearances, after realizing he had bumbled and fumbled yet again. He left the Amazing Race unable to finish as a Survivor.

The latest episodes revolve around the trifecta of Governor Mitt Romney, Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, an eclectic collection of candidates. Oh, yes, Senator Ron Paul is also running but he has maintained his “no competition” status from the get-go.

Governor Romney has “been there, done that” in 2008, when he was a presidential contender battling Senator John McCain, who took that race. A casting director could not have found a better candidate than Governor Romney. He is a man of extremes, including extreme wealth, an extreme organization and Super Pac behind him, and he is extremely telegenic. Dare I say it? Yes, the guy is a “hunk”, obviously a candidate for People magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Year”, joining George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and the rest of the beefcake boys.

He is currently the candidate who has won the most delegates and continues on an upward trajectory towards the finish line. His bait has landed the support of independents and middle-of-the road Republicans, while Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum fish in friendlier waters, down south where “grits” and “God” abound. I predict Governor Romney will be the Survivor.

The candidacy of New Gringrich could fill a book by itself. That he is a brilliant debater and a treasure trove of political savvy, only matched by his enormous intellect, is hard to deny. But he may be too smart for his own good. He is a man with a gigantic ego who refuses to accept that he can’t win and he won’t win, and it’s not because he allegedly divorced his first wife while she was undergoing cancer treatments. It’s about his wacky ideas.

Early in his campaign Mr. Gingrich introduced his proposal to force judges whose decisions weren’t in keeping with his moral and political views, to appear before Congress to explain and account for their actions. Shades of pre-Glasnost Soviet Union come to mind.

His dislike for Governor Romney is becoming pathological and at this point it appears to me that his continued candidacy is merely to spite the Governor. There is a political role for Mr. Gingrich to play but it is miles away from the Oval Office.

Finally, Rick Santorum is also a viable candidate in this Amazing Race. He has several key criteria down pat. He is not a Mormon, but a more family friendly Catholic, he has a big smile; and he and his wife have seven children. He even out scores Mitt Romney who has a mere five children.

Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich are drawing delegates from the sale pool of voters: hardcore Conservatives. Perhaps the two of them will do a “deal” to outwit and outsmart Governor Romney.

We’ll have to wait and see, because this race is far from over. Tune in next week for further episodes.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang