Thursday, August 2, 2012
The candidate is out of the gate, but no one’s cheering. He takes his first step and stumbles. He’s certainly not a crowd pleaser; politics is a spectator sport, and even his fans are cringing. But he maintains a patrician smile, and not a hair on his head moves. He knows: it’s a long race—he’s been running for six years—and reminds himself he’s being tested, on earth as in heaven. His is the loneliness of the too-distant long-distance runner. Unbowed and undaunted, he sees glory. What was the lesson spun from his primer? As he construes it: to the spoiled belongs the victory.
Welcome to The Romniad, the fun and games of the privileged.
The candidate has been in training for the ultimate contest—“My Conservatism’s Bigger Than Yours”—for at least four years, conservatively speaking. His first qualifying round, waged on friendly foreign soil, can’t be chalked up as a false start and restarted because one over-eager contestant put his foot in his mouth. Always seeing the bright side, he capitalizes on his eligibility for the “Exchanging the Foot in Your Mouth” competition, putting tactless ridicule of his host and host country behind him, and plunges right in to the fun and games with a record-setting breach of protocol.
Losing points and placing low, he springs into the “Backtracking” competition, mincing words and feigning humility. Other than a major gaff or two, nothing happened, right? Next event?
It’s shaping up to be the sporting event of the campaign year or two or six. There isn’t a luxury box to be had even for love of money.
Because the candidate plays his cards so close to his chest, it’s hard to know which events he intends to participate in, but he doesn’t seem to know either. Rumor has it he’s outsourcing the relay race because he can’t get into step with his teammates. Others contend he keeps lapping himself. Still others, that he can’t stay in one lane.
An exhaustive assessment of his competitive assets offers little hope for the gold. Cherry-picking through the itemized regulatory report: “He cycles in circles.” “He’s too even for the uneven bars and too uneven for the parallels.” “He’s about as coordinated as Gerald Ford.” Lastly, “He’s unwilling to take a platform dive—until the last week in August.”
Beaming and waving, the candidate-contestant shows up for the marathon, a race he’s been running on practice tracks for an undisclosed number of years. He claims he can do it better, faster, and yes, cheaper, than any man. (He can deny having said it later.) “Or woman!” he adds. Secretly, he’s counting on a strong tailwind to carry him triumphantly across the finish line. The crowd reacts to his bravado and not only applauds him at the starting line and again at the race’s midway point, but, during the last leg of the race, also seems to be cheering for him. It’s clear he won’t “medal,” but their indecipherable chants serve to propel him down the stretch and toward the finish. As the long-distance runner seeking to be the long-distance closer enters the stadium for his last lap, huffing and puffing and practically all in, the call of the excited spectators grows louder, their words clearer. The energized throng is chanting, “Chrysler, Chrysler!” And waving banners that read, “General Motors.” Blissfully unaware, he gazes up toward the VIP section, beams broadly and waves.