HAS JOE KLEIN BEEN TO THE MOS EISLEY SPACE PORT?…. Obi-Wan Kenobi, trying to prepare Luke Skywalker for the Mos Eisley space port, warns, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
As it turns out, Joe Klein’s assessment of the 2012 Republican presidential field sounds rather similar.
This is my 10th presidential campaign, Lord help me. I have never before seen such a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers coagulated under a single party’s banner. They are the most compelling argument I’ve seen against American exceptionalism. Even Tim Pawlenty, a decent governor, can’t let a day go by without some bilious nonsense escaping his lizard brain. And, as Greg Sargent makes clear, Mitt Romney has wandered a long way from courage.
There are those who say, cynically, if this is the dim-witted freak show the Republicans want to present in 2012, so be it. I disagree. One of them could get elected. You never know. Mick Huckabee, the front-runner if you can believe it, might have to negotiate a trade agreement, or a defense treaty, with the Indonesian President some day. Newt might have to discuss very delicate matters of national security with the President of Pakistan.
And so I plead, as an unflinching American patriot — please Mitch Daniels, please Jeb Bush, please run. I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you. And you seem to respect yourselves enough not to behave like public clowns.
When it comes to the existing GOP field, Klein’s assessment seems more than fair. Given what we’ve seen so far — and it’s only going to get worse — this is a plainly ignominious bunch.
But where I part ways with Klein is his expectation that Daniels and Jeb Bush could somehow put things right. For one thing, when it comes to the major issues of the day, the substantive differences between these two and the Seven Dwarves (Romney, Pawlenty, Huckabee, Barbour, Gingrich, Santorum, and I suppose Bachmann) are quite narrow.
For another, Klein doesn’t explain how a sensible, self-respecting, qualified Republican is going to win primaries without also becoming some ridiculous caricature. Indeed, note that Klein made no mention of Jon Huntsman — who presumably would qualify as a reasonable GOP candidate unwilling to “behave like a public clown” — probably because no one seriously believes the party base will tolerate him.