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The Silly Season

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High Clowns and Misdemeanors

"Childhood is a short season." -- Helen Hayes

"It is always in season for old men to learn." -- Aeschylus

After a near year of pre-season warm ups, the political "silly season" associated with the 2016 presidential election is now in full swing. And it's a probably a fair bet that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus ain't the only one asking, "Did I really sign up for this?"

Thus far, it's been a real doozy with lots of "dumb stunts" occurring early in the season including Ted Cruz's scintillating "Makin' Machine-Gun Bacon" workshop, Lindsay Graham's thrilling "How-To-Destroy-a-Cell Phone" video, and Rand Paul's devastating Texas Chainsaw Massacre of the federal tax code.

But the major events marking this season's silliness were the initial gatherings of the elite Society of Human Misnomers, a political/social organization where acceptance seems dependent in part, on applicants missing at least one intelligence-producing chromosome (although clearly, the fewer such chromosomes you have the better). Membership has its privileges, so it's crucial that potential applicants understand that there's a secret to getting accepted: don't apply for membership until you've sustained a level of factual ignorance low enough to render yourself completely incapable of comprehending your own stupidity.

By the way, this group is more commonly known as the GOP.

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In late August and early September, they had gathered for the two televised GOP debates -- dubbed by some as "The Smack Down in Crazy Town" -- where a small herd of "pivotal" Republicans would argue before the entire herd about who's best suited to lead them in battle to regain the White House and "save" America. As might have been expected, it got off to a clumsy start beginning with the "kid's table" format. It was, for the GOP, a somewhat puzzling antithesis; a sort of overt nod to "politically correct" inclusion that has a lot in common with the rationale behind those pointless "participation trophies" that everybody gets at summer camp.

But it also kind of makes sense. Since President Obama's been in office, the Republican Party has seemed hell-bent on consistently thwarting the notion that strength lies in numbers by pushing initiatives -- like the Benghazi hearings -- that seem calculated to test the law of diminishing returns. Here it's no different. Rather than whittle down the herd, the decision was reached to accommodate an entire cadre of marginal candidates thus bestowing an unwarranted aura of credibility around even the most anomalous of the Party's vast talent pool of inorganic misfits. Thus, for guy like Mike Huckabee, whose spectacularly low poll numbers provide no basis for his inclusion in any political event relegated to "serious" presidential candidates, the "kid's table" has turned out to be a heaven-sent debate haven.

Showtime!

There could be no serious meeting of the minds on such an unworthy stage. How, one might ask, could a truly tenable vision for the future be expected from such a watered-down line-up led by of all persons, Donald Trump -- who has no political experience -- much less a seasoned politician like Leslie Graham, a no-hoper polling at less than zero? Consequently, the irrational, simple-mindedness at the core of the Party's philosophical gimmickry for "taking back America" -- all in accordance with an unfathomable urge to focus solely on the whims of their base's least knowledgeable know-it-alls -- has thus far proven far more absurd than any absurdity one might have imagined would come from a car full of angry clowns.

Especially if it's imagined that all the clowns are adults.

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These clowns aren't adults. As it turned out, what emerged from the clown car was a group of rampaging adolescents unleashed with no adult supervision. The absence of adult bonafides was palpable during their initial debate on Fox in late August -- a gut-bucket arpeggio of coarsely-worded brain farts -- and solidified in CNN's three hour, mid-September freak show that had some participants complaining about its length, and the lower echelons of those in attendance slobbering for more.

Apparently, the GOP is a party heavily burdened by the need for an intervention -- by a truant officer.

But is this not typical of so many gatherings comprised of those caught up in the syndrome of anti-Obama derangement? Once again, rather than measured rationality, what these angry clowns offered was circus-like stage art, the main features of which were Donald Trump's sustained exhibition of weirdo narcissism with the rest of the herd providing boilerplate renditions of standard "angry-conservative" puppet theatrics laced with pious outrage.

It was the unhinged, pseudo-didactic obsession Carly Fiorina forcibly injected into each of her applause-rendering lies about Planned Parenthood. It was the "Tough Tony Imperiale"-style persona infused in the simple-minded "solutions" proffered by an overblown New Jersey bully -- the androgynously named Chris Christy. It was faded fire-brand Rand Paul's beaten-down weariness; John Kasich's inspired nothingness; Mike Huckabee's sanctimonious uselessness; Bobby Jindel's dense cluelessness; Ted Cruz's self-gratifying pretentiousness; Marco Rubio's overall "thirst-lessness" and finally, the occasion for the two candidates polling neck-and-neck in the race for the "Sominex Orator of the Year Award" -- Ben Carson and Jeb Bush -- to capitalize on the opportunity to gently paw away at Trump like a couple of cute internet kittens.

Scott Walker of course, was smart. He cut and ran just in time to avoid losing yet another hair follicle. Ditto for Rick Perry; another early silly season dropout. Perry realized his candidacy was doomed the moment it dawned on him that for the people going crazy over Trump, Perry's nerd-spectacles-and-cowboy-boots ensemble signifying the former Texas governor's 2016 political brand emitted the same kind of counter-macho flatulence let loose by Mike Dukakis during that infamous tank ride. We all know Perry can be forgetful at times. But how could such a "frontiersman" not have figured that rockin' the "Texas Metro-Sexual" look wouldn't fly with the kind of rock-ribbed conservative "ammo-sexuals" who spazz out like middle-school-girls whenever a bare-chested shot of Russia'shorseback-riding-America-hating President Vladimir Putin pops up on Fox News?

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)
 

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