The Washington Post

The Awkward Magi of the GOP Tea Party Debate

A bushel and a PAC? (Mike Carlson/AP)

Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates what each planned to bring to the White House.

Santorum would bring his seven children, which would probably mean he’d also have to bring a bedroom and more beds.

Gingrich would bring more space by sending away all the czars.

Ron Paul planned to bring a “bushel basket full of common sense.”

Mitt Romney planned to bring back a bust of Winston Churchill that used to stand in the oval office.

Rick Perry promised to bring “the most beautiful, the most thoughtful and incredible first lady that this country’s ever seen.”

Bachmann would bring the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Herman Cain said “I would bring a sense of humor to the White House, because America’s too uptight.”

And speaking of uptight, Huntsman is bringing his Harley Davidson and motocross bike, even though “my wife is gonna kill me for saying this.”

This pretty much sums it up.

This whole litany of Brought Objects would have made the most awkward Visit from the Magi ever.

It is a characteristic of Magi that they always bring not what you need but what seems symbolically appropriate. No baby sees gold and gets really gung ho about it, with the possible exception of the tiny Ron Paul. But even the infant Ron couldn’t have mustered any enthusiasm about frankincense and myrrh.

Santorum would bring seven children! Wow. This nicely encapsulates Santorum’s goal: to return the White House to what it was at some point in the McKinley era, when people were Reasonable and Decent and didn’t vaccinate hardly anyone.

Gingrich will fling out the czars, which is a nice touch. One might uncharitably suggest that this was necessary to make room for Gingrich, who is what my grandmother tactfully calls “a substantial member of the community.” But it also showcases Gingrich’s view that as the Ultimate Insider, he knows Secret Ways of Making Everything Cheaper and Larger. Just visit his website and buy his book, and you, too, can save!

Even Huntsman, whom everyone thought might be at least mature (if incapable of attracting any voter attention, but I repeat myself), was trying too hard this time. It turns out that Rick Perry can get away with accusing people of treason. It’s, if stunning, at least in character. But when Huntsman accuses Rick Perry of treason, it’s about as terrifying as the prospect of being savaged by a dead sheep. With the motorcylce, Huntsman offered tangible, physical evidence that this whole run for the presidency is some sort of midlife crisis. “Want to hear me say treason again?” he asked. “Treason!”

Meanwhile Ron Paul offers more of exactly what Ron Paul has offered all this time. “Ooh, an outdated unit of something meaningless! You shouldn’t have!”

Bachmann will bring the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Just a little light reading, like when she takes Ludwig von Mises to the beach.

Perry, in a bid for Most Red-Blooded Candidate, is going to bring the most incredible, beautiful, and thoughtful first lady the nation has ever seen. Romney, in a bid for Least Red-Blooded Candidate, is bringing a bust of Churchill. “Would you like something sort of nerdy that nobody else in the country is really enthused about?” Romney says. “That’s me all over.”

Cain has it right. America is too uptight.

Now we’re analyzing all of it.

One thing’s for sure — I know whom I’m inviting to my next house-warming: none of these folks.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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