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Handicapping GOP 

click to enlarge Mitt Romney image

I've been relocated, people. Evicted from the safe confines of entertainment pages and male enhancement advertisements (which totally work, by the way — but take two, they're small), and thrust forward in the paper, to now be tucked safely among the dour-faced white men. Look at 'em. Watch their eyes move. Sneers curl their lips. Already skeptical.

And they should be. With my new location in the paper comes the responsibility to, at least every once in a while, write about some of the things they write about. I see this as a great opportunity, not to express long-held opinions about state and national politics, mind you, but simply to make fun of a whole new category of dipshits. And aren't politicians the best dipshits? For material, I watched my first (and last) full Republican primary debate of the season. I came up with the following list of mockeries, slanders and brazen ad hominem attacks for your enjoyment.

Mitt Romney: Romney left his hyperbaric chamber of rarified air long enough to move to the left, right and center last week. His political presence hearkens back to another Massachusetts stooge who floundered his way into a presidential nomination and ripped defeat from the clutches of victory in the 2004 election. Romney's desire to be president is palpable, seemingly crippling, and matched in fervor only by the Republican base's apparent desire not to elect him.

John Huntsman: Huntsman seems to be the most plain-spoken, nuanced and generally affable candidate of the bunch, which is precisely why he doesn't have a chance in hell. It's primary season after all and folks will take their nuance in the form of flying mallets.

Michele Bachmann: Speaking of subtlety and mallets, is it just me or does this woman look like a brook trout who has just been clubbed? I'm grouping Bachmann and Newt Gingrich together because everything they uttered was of their collective antipathy for Bernanke, Geithner and Barney Frank.

Rick Santorum: Rick Santorum is one of those people who looks like he's missing a facial feature, you're just not sure which one. The toughest choice he faces on the campaign trail this year is his Halloween costume. Will he go as "Confusion" or "Irrelevance"?

Ron Paul: If you were to simply read the transcripts, Ron Paul bats these other candidates around like a cat playing with devalued paper currency. But ever since Nixon's sweat-lip, we've learned all too well that the medium is the message. In this case, the medium is a 95-lb. fogy you nudge out of the way at the Golden Corral to get to the French toast sticks. He could be giving a unified field theory or politely resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict and his resting countenance would still be that of Papaw looking for his slippers. Agree with him or not, Paul is fundamentally consistent and principled, and would no doubt provide the most interesting national election — if only it were an election played on radio.

Rick Perry: Watching Perry grapple with a question is something akin to watching a walrus mount a jet ski, or a bear cub first discovering his genitals. He's not good when he gets away from his campaign promises of ignoring Congress and making Washington inconsequential. I haven't seen a campaign this centered on destruction since Guns N' Roses' debut album.

Herman Cain: Everyone seems to agree that what we need in the White House is someone who's run a business. So why not someone who ran a crappy pizza chain that's been out of business for 20 years? If Cain wins the nomination, look for him to bolster his campaign with newer blood — maybe Cain/Papa John 2012. Regarding his policies, people love simplicity, and numbers, and Cain put three of them together right there in a row with 9-9-9. Never mind that the plan has been discredited by everyone to the left and right of him as being utterly untenable. As Cain loses his luster in the coming weeks, look for more pablum to come our way, possibly in the form of free breadsticks.

At the end of the day, Romney seems to be the solid (but tedious) suitor the straw pollers will eventually marry, while the straw pollers themselves resemble nothing so much as a boy-crazy 13 year-old girl thumbing through Tiger Beat and picking their biggest crush. Who is it this week? The bovine, Brolin-esque Texan, or the full-throated pizza baron? The winner, as always, will be decided by Newton's Third Law of politics: Move as strongly against business and Wall Street as possible without jeopardizing your chance to sidle back to them in the general election. Romney seems both experienced and suited for that.

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