One should not discount Barack Obama’s election as president as a factor in the field of 2016 GOP presidential contenders having become so insanely crowded. The non-person to which so many on the right have shamelessly and fiercely sought to reduce this president, a feeling among one or more of the aspirants that if an Obama can be a White House guy so could they, doesn’t stretch the imagination much. It follows, if we surmise correctly, that the president, despite not being a candidate for any political office, could well influence how things play out with that loaded boxcar of Republican gladiators.
By which we mean simply this. If Obama as president hadn’t turned light bulbs on over so many Republican heads, maybe there’s a markedly smaller candidate lineup and poll numbers among them don’t give prominence to a bozo steadily holding the support of the wacko sector among Republican voters. We know that sector to be a very real piece of GOP turf. Even so, nothing in recent GOP history would suggest a majority of its voters favoring the kind of clown act now leading their poling. For party honchos, steadfastly right wing is fine; a circus is a whole other thing. Unfortunately for them, the clown act, having now been given reason to take himself more seriously than ever, if his bid for the nomination falls short, has given every indication of making a third-party run — a nightmare scenario for Republicans. All of it possibly tracking back in some measure to Mr. Obama’s having had the audacity to run for and become president, and in the process swelling an inordinate number of heads on the other side to presidential wannabe dimensions.
The possible effect of Obama as president on the almost surreal Republican nomination scramble is but one of the many morsels of food for thought in this real-time developing saga. No way was this foreseen by the GOP brass. Probably the only aspect of the 2016 nomination process they figured to warrant special attention was avoidance of the tiring contenders’ marathon they rolled out for 2012. The theater-of-the-absurd buffoonery that has overtaken this season’s best laid plans couldn’t spell exactly happy times for party masterminds.
But there’s some poetic justice happening here. The GOP’s robust identification with far-right values, the systemic sidelining of any vestiges of a moderate ideological strain within the party that saw a deliberate re-branding of Republicanism since the 1970s-80s period, now holds the party hostage. And, horror of horrors, calling the shots is a self-absorbed caricature whom no one in the party leadership could possibly be thinking to be a top-of-the-ticket winner. The “Y’all come” they eagerly extended to the far-right fringe has now become the bull in the GOP china shop. One of the contenders polls show trailing in the dust, super hawk Sen. Lindsey Graham, said about the guy leading the pack, that if the party doesn’t repudiate his brand of demagoguery, “We will lose and we will deserve to lose.” The smart betting says he’s got it right.
Between a rock and a hard place. That’s where Republican heavyweights must think they’ve been placed by the antics of Donald Trump, as he continues to make a sham of this run-up to electing the so-called leader of the free world, making of the process the equivalent of another real estate huckstering gambit. Not that the Republican leadership hasn’t done some pretty lame stuff before. There were influential party voices pulling the strings, we heard, in John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as running mate in 2008, for heaven’s sake. Maybe it was all his doing when George H.W Bush put Dan Quayle on that ticket in 1988. The difference here is that the party has a nemesis who can really inflict a hurting.
The third-party threat is of course one GOP leaders dare not ignore. So that although it couldn’t possibly be the considered opinion among GOP bosses that this bozo is the party’s ablest standard bearer, who knows what strange deal(s) might result when the threat of a third-party challenge is dangled?
The third-party effort, though, if it comes to pass in 2016, is nothing more than spoiler tactics. Ross Perot may have thought he was making a big enough noise to upset the status quo when he jumped onto center stage in 1992. As did George Wallace before him. They needed to take note that if a titan like Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t make the third-party thing happen way back then, who could?
Who knows, maybe by the time we get not too far into 2016 much or all of the GOP-injected circus atmosphere would have exited the process. The American electorate deserves that much.