Commentary: Even I coulda been a contenda in GOP field

The Miami HeraldJanuary 2, 2012 

If nothing else, the presidential candidates who dominated the news in 2011 brought an old guy a new revelation. Made me feel like Brando. Made me feel like shouting from the waterfront, “I coulda been somebody.” (“Instead of a bum, which is what I am.”)

Surely, in this particular year, even “I coulda been a contenda.” Seems like damn near anybody could have been a contenda in 2011.

Before, I might have assumed that my... well... past indiscretions would have kept me out of contention. But an early leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination convinced me that those conniving, sneaky women, particularly a stringy-haired blonde who took advantage of me in a New Orleans bar circa 1986, had been secretly working for the Obama White House.

About the marriages? Those interns? Well, I’m no worse than Newt. Having no wife at the moment becomes another bonus. No worries about an awkward press conference with my tight-lipped spouse forced to feign surprise and indignation over revelations of serial infidelities. If there’s no spouse, well, it’s like a political variation of the “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody . . .

“Among the attributes I hadn’t realized I possessed, I know the difference between John Wayne the actor and John Wayne Gacy the serial killer (a distinction that eluded Michele Bachmann). I know that Kim Jong-il was not, as Rick Perry put it last week, Kim Jong II (or “Junior,” as cowpokes say back in Texas.). I can recite up to three federal agencies earmarked for oblivion without an “oops.” I don’t make Mitt-like $10,000 bets (being about $10,000 light). My lawn service doesn’t employ illegal immigrants (I can’t afford a lawn service). And I haven’t, like Mitt, driven to Canada with a dog strapped to the roof.

Unlike Newt, I have cannily refrained from suggesting that we roll child labor laws back to 1916 and dispatch poor children to school restrooms where they can mop up after their betters. I reckon that alone qualifies me as political genius, circa 2011.

Unlike Herman Cain, the contenda who talked himself out of contention, I can bluff my way through dry-foot, wet-foot and rattle off, not necessarily in order, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Abe’s Barbeque Stand (a great joint in Clarksdale, Miss. Like all pols, I’m particularly fond of the pork offerings.).

I already know, without a highly paid staff member briefing me, that China has nukes. And Martinique doesn’t.

On the other hand, my pizza-making expertise may not be of a presidential caliber.

Luckily, I’m unfettered by any notion of foreign policy other than a strong desire to invade Martinique during a photo shoot for the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue (now that I know Martinique has no nukes). The campaign of 2011 demonstrated that knowing something about foreign affairs, other than something about Prince Harry’s affairs, may be detrimental to political ambitions in America. I can proudly proclaim that, unlike that French-speaking Mitt, no foreign language has passed from these ignorant American lips. And I can be as xenophobic as any of these other suckers. Build an electric fence along the Mexican border? Hell, I’m ready to build an alligator moat around Hollywood, just to keep those disgustingly nice Canadians from indoctrinating innocent American children with national healthcare commie propaganda.

I also discovered in 2011 that I possess certain intellectual advantages; the main one being, I ain’t too smart. Voters have made it clear to pollsters that they want no deep thinkers in the White House. I’m the man. I can make Rick Perry sound like a math major. My campaign motto could be, “I don’t know nothing about no evolution. I just know I ain’t no monkey boy.” And I can think up lots of reasons, other than global warming, why the polar ice caps are melting, the seas are rising and Oklahoma’s weather has turned drier than a Baptist wedding.

Drawing on cumulative wisdom expressed during the 2011 campaigning, I’ll just blame gay marriage.

I used to worry that maybe I was in too flabby a physical condition to be a contenda. Then I saw a photo of Newt in Bermuda shorts. Talk about an affront to our national interest. Right after Martinique, we’re invading Bermuda. I’ve regarded Newt in all his glorious self-exaltation, listened to Perry’s oopsies, watched Herman implode and Bachmann fade, pondered the bizarre early writing of Ron Paul, slept through Mitt, sent out search parties for Santorum and Huntsman.

Best I can tell, in this crowd, even I coulda been a contenda. Your crazy neighbor coulda been a contenda. Up against this bunch, your happily unemployed, perpetually eating, living-at-home, FaceBook-addled, wasted-degree-of-a-college-graduate of a son coulda been a contenda.

Surely the governors of New Jersey and Minnesota, a mayor or an ex-mayor from New York, an ex-governor of Florida, a passel of pols-turned-TV commentators, and certain highly self-regarded senators, including that swell-looking young fellow from Florida, regard the gaggle of candidates coming out of 2011 and realize they could have won the nomination by default.

Heading into the New Year, they must be muttering like Brando from On the Waterfront, knowing now that they missed the one great opportunity of a lifetime. “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been somebody.”

Even president. (“Instead of a bum, which is what I am.”)

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