Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In modern times, there’s no such thing as an “election year.” Elections never cease. Even now, after one election has barely ended, we’re already polling, punditing, and raging about the next election, which won’t actually happen for 22 months. This is good news if you like the kind of political reporting in which elections are treated like horse races, only these races last a lot longer and the horses die out one by one and collapse on the track until there is just one horse left standing on the pile of dead horses wheezing and bleeding and having had huge patches of skin ripped from its body in the course of the race, and this horse pledges to restore civility to Washington and get things done, dammit, while beneath the winning horse, the dead horses slowly start to come back to life, making statements via Twitter and pledging to tear the winning horse into pieces. For those of us who don’t enjoy this spectacle, the prospect of primaries “just around the corner” makes us shiver and break out into a cold sweat.
Thankfully, we don’t need to care about the 2012 presidential election. We don’t need to write long, speculative pieces in New York magazine about how Sarah Palin could become president, or talk about whether Michael Bloomberg will run as a third-party candidate, or parse the minutiae—and oh God, will there be minutiae—of the Republican primary. We don’t need to talk about this stuff even if we really follow the news and care about politics. Why not? Because unless something changes, like we hit another recession, or he gets caught in a hotel room with a dead woman or a live boy, Obama is going to win reelection, and might even do so fairly easily, which would render the primary season pretty much moot.
Moot how? Well, some potential candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are probably going to sit this cycle out, which they presumably wouldn’t if Obama were that vulnerable. The polls pretty much back this up—there was a funny one from a few months ago showing that people liked a generic Republican candidate better than Obama, but they liked Obama better than any actual Republican candidate. The frontrunners for the nomination (Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich) are all pretty terrible as candidates.
To break it down one by one: Palin is popular with a certain kind of frothy-mouthed bloggy Republican who answers polling questions on Redstate, but she’s laughably unelectable in the country at large. Romney has the opposite problem: The base doesn’t like him any better than it did the last go-round, maybe because he’s a Mormon, maybe because he supported health care reform in Massachusetts. Newt—Jesus, do we need to consider him seriously now? If he came out of the primary, liberals would turn out to oppose him just as they would to oppose Sarah Palin.
Huckabee, well, Tom Jensen at left-leaning Public Policy Polling thinks that he’s the best GOP candidate. Huckabee has a fun name (although easily turned into “Fuckabee”), he’s an affable guy, he lost a bunch of weight and is committed to fighting obesity, he’s super Christian, he’s all about Zionism—pretty attractive to Republicans, all things considered. But when he ran for president four years ago, he got hosed everywhere except for Iowa and the South, and Chuck Norris isn’t going to help him when the aggressively ideological “values voters” and hard-line conservatives attack him. Already, Mike Pence (who?) polled better at something called the Values Voter Summit, and Ann Coulter called him a liberal for not wanting to kill and eat illegal immigrants. Can an election turn ugly before it even begins?
Just ignore any news coming out of this primary season, please. Even if I write something about it, don’t read it—find some articles about baseball instead, even if it’s only spring training. Or just watch YouTube footage of car accidents in slow motion or something. And if you live in New Hampshire or Iowa, I’d advise you to leave the state before the candidates descend on your state. This won’t be a media circus, it’ll be a months-long ten-way screaming match, with the winner inevitably covered in mud, blood, and allegations of homosexuality—and that candidate is probably going to go down in history as the next Bob Dole.