Sunday, March 29, 2015

The First Clown Out of the Car

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

It has begun. And I couldn’t be happier.
By “it,” I mean the Republican primary season, which got a surprise start this past Monday when Toddler-Terrifyin’ Ted Cruz followed up his epic speech in which he yelled at a 3-year-old that “your whole world is on fire!” in the only way possible: by forgoing the usual “exploratory committee” fundraising dance and announcing that he’s running for the presidency.
Why does this make me so happy? Because when you write the type of columns that I write, you greet the first announcement of a Republican candidacy with the same glee a circus-loving child feels when the first clown dances and struts his way into the center ring, only to be sprayed with water and knocked on his keister by a big-shoed, red-nosed rival. You just know there’s going to be a hilarious multi-clown free-for-all and big belly laughs ahead.
The first hand holding the metaphorical seltzer bottle directed at Sen. Cruz belonged to the only man in the field of prospective candidates who’s nuttier than Cruz himself, by which I mean the Bellowing Baron of Birtherism his own bad self, Mr. Donald Trump.
Trump, in a phone interview with MyFox New York, used the classic dodge of “I’m not making accusations, I’m just wondering” to try to cast doubt on Cruz’s eligibility to run: “He was born in Canada. If you know, and when we all studied our history lessons, you are supposed to be born in this country, so I just don’t know how the courts will rule on this.”
He also accused Cruz of stealing his lines.
“The line of ‘Make America great again,’ the phrase — that was mine. I came up with it about a year ago,” Trump said, “and I kept using it, and everybody’s now using it. … Maybe I should copyright it. Maybe I have copyrighted it.”
I have certainly enjoyed a major chuckle watching the zombified corpse of birtherism raised from the Earth by a Republican and sicced on one of his own kind. And I look forward to the day when everyone who uses the phrase “make America great again” gets a “cease and desist” letter from The Donald’s lawyers.
That’s what made this country great in the first place, after all: the monetization of patriotic sentiment. Which reminds me: I need to beef up my investments in companies that make flag pins. Never mind that they’re all in China now. But I digress.
Meanwhile, in another ring of the circus, the JEB! Bush campaign slipped on its first banana peel as former Secretary of State James Baker, who’s been an adviser to JEB! on foreign policy matters, had the temerity to criticize the right’s latest poster boy, Our Friend Bibi.
Baker, who was secretary of state for JEB!’s daddy, called OFB’s recent moves “diplomatic missteps and political gamesmanship” at an event for the liberal Jewish organization J Street. Predictably, this did not sit well with the people who love America so much that they’d rather see a foreigner like Netanyahu or even Vladimir Putin in charge of it.
“Bush can’t let Baker’s appearance at the J Street event go unremarked upon,” wrote Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary magazine. “He must either explicitly distance himself from Baker’s appearance and from J Street’s support for Obama’s threats against Israel, or ask Baker to formally disassociate himself from his presidential effort.”
Other critics of Baker’s words included Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard — who, as we all know from reading our history, is always, always wrong.
“OK, OK,” the JEB! campaign said, and tried to do what the Israel hawks asked. They sent a mass email stating that JEB! “disagrees with the sentiments he [Baker] expressed last night and opposes J Street’s advocacy. Governor Bush’s support for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwavering.”
Not good enough, the Israel hawks cried.
“Bush’s statements remain generic, and his demeanor does not convey passion,” groused Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post’s “Right Turn” column. Apparently, nothing will satisfy the Pro-Israel Purity Police until JEB! hauls the elderly Baker up to the podium, gives him a vicious forehand-backhand slap and screams at him to “shut his filthy mouth” about OFB.
I tell you, folks, watching these people whack away at one another for the next few months is going to provide hours of the finest slapstick entertainment, not to mention fodder for a couple of dozen columns at least. The only way I could be happier is if Sarah Palin threw her hat back in the ring. … But no. That would be too much to hope for.
Stay tuned, and pass the popcorn. The debates are going to be epic.