Now, post-Perry, the field seems stuck. You can tell by the frantic bleats at Paul Ryan’s announcement that he wasn’t yet willing to run for President that everyone is not overwhelmingly enthused by the current prospects. Instead of hosting any of the current candidates, Meet the Press welcomed Indiana governor Mitch Daniels.
“Ending is better than mending.” That’s a key adage from Aldous Huxley’s dystopic Brave New World, and it fits the GOP primary contest to a T. Try to deal with the candidates currently in the race? Give them a buff or two? Urge them to speak in calm, reasoned tones, to stare in the general direction of the camera and to avoid looking as though they’ve just been addressed in commanding tones by a demonic rabbit? That sounds like a lot of work! Can’t we get Chris Christie over here?
It’s hard to blame them.
We live in an era where everything has customizable features except our presidential candidates. It’s a regrettable oversight that I’m sure will be fixed in beta. We like to have options and to be able to swap out the relevant components at a moment’s notice. Could we get someone with Huntsman’s hair who doesn’t want to raise the debt ceiling? How about someone with Ron Paul’s ability to be ignored by the media and the raw charisma of Teddy Roosevelt? (Although, if you mean “the raw charisma of Teddy Roosevelt, in the sense that Roosevelt has been deceased for several decades,” Rick Santorum is already in the race.)
By the time we are done reconstituting the ideal candidate out of components, we wind up with a lurching, teetering Frankenstein’s Monster Candidate who looks suspiciously like Ronald Reagan’s reanimated corpse.
At what point is enough enough? Are we actually trying to get Sarah Palin into the race? She might not realize that everyone was joking, and then where would we be? This is quickly turning into that old joke where Marilyn Monroe is seated next to Einstein at dinner. “What if we had a child,” the starlet says. “Imagine — my looks and your brains!” “Ah, but what if it had my looks and your brains?” Einstein answers.
“We’d like someone with Mike Huckabee’s human touch and Mitt Romney’s business acumen!” But we generally get the converse.
And the strategists are scrambling. Ron Paul? Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart is the only media personality who takes him seriously. Why start now? Paul Ryan? He just said he wouldn’t. Rudy Giuliani? You know it’s bad when people go back to suggesting Rudy Giuliani.
“We need someone who won’t scare off moderate voters but who can run plausibly to the right for the primary,” everyone says. “Someone tall. Someone photogenic. Someone with private sector experience. Someone with executive experience. Someone who does not not believe in science, because fun as that may be initially it tends to cloy once you emerge from the shadow-cave of the primaries into the sunlight of the general. Someone who doesn’t say wild, unhinged things.”
“Er, guys?” says Mitt Romney. He has been waiting here all along in the rain, holding flowers and looking vaguely contrite, like the male protagonist of a Jane Austen novel.
“Not you!” everyone insists. “Someone with all your features who isn’t you.”
“And possibly not Mormon,” the People Who Decide These Things cough delicately into one sleeve, hoping Mitt will not overhear this in case Chris Christie doesn’t come swooping in on a very, very strong white horse later in the season.
“Seriously, guys?” Mitt asks. “Is that what this is about?”
“Of course not,” the crowd insists, falling over themselves to say that they just wanted someone with “a touch more interpersonal vigor, who doesn’t tell people their girlfriends are a ‘nice choice. Just like me.’”
I’m amazed Mitt hasn’t quit yet. He has been attempting to reconstitute himself in accordance with what he perceives to be specifications for the past half-decade now. And no one has yet embraced him. He must really be smitten.
“Don’t change,” everyone says. “No, maybe change. No, wait, change less. Unchange.”
This field is just a bad haircut. More to the right. No, less to the right. Something more traditional. Something edgier. Let’s shave it all off and start over again.
Does anyone have another Godot handy?