"Republican Debates Are a Hot Ticket on TV,"
the New York Times headline declared Monday, throwing awesome numbers
around about how popular the 2012 GOP presidential campaign has become.
There have been eight of these winners so far, five since Labor Day,
with the most recent Tuesday night from Las Vegas on CNN. Usually, the
potential candidates stand in a straight line on the stage looking like a
high school performance of "Chorus Line," telling us why they want to
be president. I've also seen them sitting down, as they did last week on
Bloomberg TV around a table with Mister Charisma, Charlie Rose. (On his
PBS show, Charlie can put me to sleep better than Sominex with his
At the Western Republican debate Tuesday night, they added a wrinkle.
Instead of just being targets for the moderator -- Anderson Cooper this
time -- who plays spin the bottle, firing questions at his sitting
ducks haphazardly, the candidates took off the gloves.
Two contenders, Mitt and Rick, almost came to blows. The debate seemed more suitable for Friday Night Fights on HBO, with the two leading contenders going after each other as if it was the ninth round and they were behind on points.
Besides the debates, I have been reading all the stories in the
papers and blogs about who is, or isn't, running ninth in the straw
polls and opinion surveys. As a registered Republican and a smart
investor, I am ashamed to admit I am still undecided.
I should point out that we Undecideds play an important part in
American politics. As we go, so go elections. And as candidate Rick
Santorum, one of the roadshow thespians trying out for the job, noted,
50% of those polled didn't even know the names of the candidates.
Of course, my dilemma hasn't been helped by the absence of the
strongest potential candidates. I am still suffering from Christie
Interruptus. The great New Jersey Brontosaurus Christie was the only
candidate who could have united the party's lightweights and
heavyweights. Christie energized the party, regardless of belt size.
And I'm still stunned by Sarah Palin dropping out of the race. What
was the past two years all about if not to make her a candidate? Was it
just bait-and-switch, getting free publicity for all her moneymaking
media projects, duping her supporters? She would have added some comedy
to the race.
For a while, Herman Cain was a lot of fun with his 999 Plan to save
America, which no one I knew understood. (As I earlier explained, if
elected he was promising 9 toppings for $9.99 and free delivery anywhere
in the United States.) A sign that he was a serious candidate is that
the Koch Brothers are underwriting his campaign. What a surprise!
However, there has been a Caine Mutiny in my house since David Gregory
tore his economic plan apart on his NBC Sunday morning show.
So I am left with the seven dwarfs sweating out the third-degree
grilling by the cool Anderson Cooper. More and more, the run up to 2012
election is looking liking a political circus geek show, a nightmare
alley with chicken head-eaters.
For one reason or another, not one of the candidates seems
presidential enough. But they might work as a committee, it occurred to
me, with all the bragging prowess of executives. One day, Rick Perry
could sit in the Oval Office. The next day, Michele Bachmann. The third
day, Newt. The fourth, Rick Santorum, and so on. Mitt could serve on
Sunday, since he is a minister.
The one man I would keep standing in the corridor would be Ron Paul.
The champion of getting the government out of the way might decide to
lay off the air controllers and eliminate the red lights in the streets,
all of which are restraints on our personal freedom.
Committees work well in business. All seven of our leading contenders
might add up to one chief executive. Then again, maybe not. It's not
easy being an Undecided.