The 2010 Midterm Elections: A Halloween Grab-Bag of Ghouls
What a monstrous cast of characters we’ve had slouching and slivering across our electoral stage these past few weeks!
It’s been a veritable Halloween grab-bag of ghouls—just an out-and-out pandemonium of the strangest, most unlikely agglomeration of unapologetic oddballs, catatonic nitwits, and irrepressibly vicious freaks vying for political office that our nation has seen in many a moon.
Without further ado, then, here is my brief walk-through this loon-haunted spectacle:
First up for consideration is the man who, in any other election cycle, would hands down take the prize for the most incongruous candidate: I speak here of that entranced Mummy from the Crypt, the insensate and utterly befuddled Alvin Greene, the Democratic nominee for the Senate in the state of South Carolina.
The mystery wrapped up in an enigma wrapped up in a thick encasing of stupefied understanding that is Alvin Greene is a matter that I would imagine political scientists all around the globe will be scratching their heads over for many years to come. There is just the basic incomprehension regarding how this man could have even won the nomination in the first place.
I have always assumed, at least, that the first rule for any candidacy for elected office must be that you actually have to have a campaign. Not for our man Greene. Although he did somehow manage to come up with the $10,400 filing fee to register himself in the race—and no-one knows how he did even that—it’s not clear he did anything at all in addition to that. He raised no campaign funds, recruited no campaign staff, put up no campaign signs, held no rallies, gave no speeches or interviews or any other manner of media event—it doesn’t even appear (contrary to his claims) that Greene met with any voters at any point to ask for their vote.
And yet, and yet…he did win the nomination all the same. How did he do it? What did he do? Did he do anything at all? It does not seem so…and yet…
Campaign managers from every corner of the nation must even now be analyzing this eerie, ghost-like approach to campaigning with the most intense and baffled attention, wondering if there is any way to apply its lessons to their future campaigns. Think of how much money, time and trouble could be saved by essentially doing nothing whatsoever…and then still winning!
Yet Alvin Greene is not by any means the strangest or most extravagantly peculiar candidate currently jockeying for our whiplashed attention in this election season. At the very least, he has a considerable amount of strong and importunate competition.
There is, of course, that Witchy Woman from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. There can be little doubt at this time, I believe, that what O’Donnell and her ill-advised Senatorial campaign will forever be remembered for are not any of the positions she put forth on the campaign trail, or in the two debates she participated in, or in the very few media appearances she deigned to grant, or even anything she might have let out on the “Politically Incorrect” TV show a decade or so ago. No, what she will be remembered for is the answer she dumbly concluded she had to devise in response to something she said on the “Politically Incorrect” TV show a decade or so ago.
What Christine O’Donnell will evermore be remembered for, that is to say, is a simple sentence that seems destined to go down in political campaign infamy as just about the most memorable, and most bizarre first line of any campaign ad in the history of campaign ads: “I am not a witch.”
I would be willing to bet that decades from now we will still be chuckling over this priceless piece of political self-immolation. For there is also little doubt that O’Donnell in this ad foolishly committed what is probably the most egregious mistake a political campaign can commit: She managed, through her own endeavor, to bring an extraordinary amount of undue attention to precisely that one thing in her personal narrative the broadcasting of which was most likely to do her harm.
Ms. O’Donnell’s mistake in all this was I think in hiring the guy who did the notoriously freaky, outlandish, if not out-and-out deviant “Demon Sheep” ad for Carly Fiorina. I have little reason to assert that this particular ad man—a Mr. Fred Davis—is anything other than a loyal Republican, who had anything other than the best interests of Christine O’Donnell and the Republican party at the forefront of his working consciousness. It’s also quite obvious, nonetheless, that beneath that forefront there ticks the imagination of a seriously bent individual, a man who simply cannot help himself but to present whatever subject matter is at hand in some sort of preposterous and abnormal light.
It’s true that for someone who has not displayed much subtlety in his past work, Davis does manage to take a relatively subtle tack in this ad. Yet the underlying rhetorical point is communicated all the same: Christine O’Donnell is one twisted sister, even more so than we might have previously thought.
Why else present her in that gloomy, nearly occultish dark setting? Wearing dark clothes that seem quite fitting for, let’s say—a witch, perhaps? And that unsettling focus with which she confronts the viewer, assuring us that, despite all of our protestations to the contrary, “I’m you”. What kind of creepy Voodoo-soul-transference is that? I half-expected her head to swivel around 180 degrees at the conclusion of the ad, present us a nice reassuring smile, pronounce “I’m Christine O’Donnell, and I approve this message”, and then hurl green vomit onto the camera lens, accompanied by a deep, blood-curdling, guttural howl.
And then there is that pistol-packin’ Mama from the Wild West, the one and only (let us pray) “Shoot-‘em-up” Sharron Angle. This particular armed and dangerous Senate candidate for the state of Nevada has contrived a quite rigorous platform of “God n’ Guns, plus some more Guns”, implied in which is the only slightly submerged promise, should she be so honored to win the election—and even more so perhaps if she isn’t so honored—to begin shooting D. C. politicians dead on sight, picked off like mad dogs on the dusty streets of Georgetown.
There will be blood, it would seem, before this peculiarly besotted election cycle is over. Ol’ “Bad” Angle has quite obviously gone off the rails of the Crazy Train so irredeemably that erratic, nonsensical, irrational statements seem to speed out of her mouth at a nearly uncontrollable rate. Here are just a few of her choicest bits:
This, for starters, was how Angle introduced herself to Washington politicos at a nice sedate National Press Club event last April.
“You know, I feel a little lonely today, I usually bring Smith and Wesson along…”
Then there is her downright ludicrous revival of that old John Birch Society canard regarding government-sponsored fluoride being put in the water so as to further a subversive plot enacted upon the American people. And there also is the wildly rabid and entirely erroneous accusation she made that two American cities—Dearborn, Michigan and a town in Texas which doesn’t even exist—have already subverted, and indeed, entirely overthrown the United States Constitution as the ruling basis for their cities’ governance, and replaced it with Sharia law.
Perhaps most bizarrely, in more recent days Angle has let loose with the claim that she is (or could at least be reasonably considered as) “the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly.” No-one has yet come up with any explanation as to what she might possibly be referring to in this zesty gem of piquant wisdom.
A quick random scan at some other races around the country as we count down the days to this lurid election reveals to us a House candidate in Florida with close connections to a biker gang, the “Rent is Too Damn High” guy in New York, the “Aqua Buddha” religious controversy in Kentucky, and then of course there’s that nice German-American House candidate from Ohio with that warm and fuzzy weekend hobby of dressing up as a Nazi SS soldier.
That brings us then to the candidate who—although he has admittedly calmed down of late—may really deserve the top honors for Prime Political Lunatic simply as a consequence of the sheer relentless effort he has expended along these lines. And certainly, too, if we are to speak of ghouls, I think it can be said with some surety that there has never been a candidate quite so thoroughly ghoulish as that Machiavellian magus of foot-in-the-mouth self-administration, Mr. Carl Paladino of Buffalo, New York.
The utter genius of political campaign strategery that Mr. P has put on display in his woe-begotten race for the Governor of New York is just a wonder to conceive. What I love most of all about Paladino is that I believe all of his activities in the national limelight in the last few weeks actually comprise his notion of “damage control”. The thing is, of course, that he has done so much further damage to his already laughable campaign by these more recent activities that everyone has already forgotten now what the prior “damage” he set out to control was even about in the first place.
It’s as if he is stuck in a sort of perpetual loop, a vicious cycle of helplessly self-refuting, idiotic self-abasement. And so, as it is the case of course that the man has no real hope of actually winning this particular race, perhaps Paladino should simply stay out on the campaign trail in perpetuum, entirely untethered to any actual campaign—and Carl certainly knows from untethered—an Ancient Mariner sort of endless “Damage Control Tour”, which if nothing else would doubtless make for a very memorable reality TV show.