US midterms: Political freak show

During the current US midterm election campaigns, truth is most definitely stranger than fiction.

Linda McMahon with daughter Stephanie and the WWE’s own Triple H – who must be on the shortlist for chief of staff (a Rahm Emanuel in the making) if McMahon were to win a seat in the US Senate [Getty]

I’m you, dear readers. Well, actually, I’m not. But I’m also not a witch, so at least I’ve got that going for me.

The above is of course a reference to Delaware’s favourite Wiccan of Wilmington, Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell, who began her most recent television advertisement by assuring viewers that she, indeed, is “not a witch.” In past political years this might have been considered a bit low-brow, to actually have to assure the voting public you didn’t spend most days at dusk swooping over the heads of the Lollipop Guild.

The bar has been raised among this year’s crop of weirdos and wackadoos seeking higher office in America. If you don’t have the Second Amendment tattooed on your buttocks or actually think you’re The Walrus, don’t even try and claim to be among the craziest third of aspiring politicos on the current American landscape.

For Jay Leno may have once called politics “show business for ugly people.” But the larger truth these days is that a run for political office is a surefire way for those seeking a moment in the spotlight, but lacking any discernible talent or a handle on the truth, to have their hour in the headlines. It’s show business for crazy people.

Let’s take two brief examples. First, we have Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino in New York, whose fits of fury and chest-thumping bravado makes Jimmy Hoffa seem like Boy George.

Paladino really is the whole package. A family values maven who fathered a daughter with someone not his wife, he threatened to “take out” a New York Post reporter (for being a biased liberal…at a publication owned by Rupert Murdoch) and told anyone who’d listen that his opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, had an affair while married to his former wife – without any proof to back up this claim, of course.

Paladino also just hates the government, except when it’s giving him taxpayer money hand-over-fist, in the form of Empire Zone tax credits to ostensibly create jobs – which he then mostly pocketed, just for the hell of it. Yes, a modern day Robespierre is he.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Democrats, trying to defeat Tea-Party-tart Senator Jim DeMint, somehow nominated Alvin Greene. In August, to quote from The Huffington Post, a “grand jury indicted Greene, 32, for disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity – a felony – as well as a misdemeanour charge of communicating obscene materials to a person without consent.” Basically, in that known prime pickup spot – inside a college computer lab – Greene thought it wise to show pornographic material to a young lady who unsurprisingly was uninterested. He has since said he was “joking,” which simply means he jokes the way Billy Joel drives.

Yet, somehow Palmetto State Democrats thought it wise to pick this guy – albeit before the obscenity charge, but also before anyone knew who he was as he had no website, staff, or fund raising operation – over a former judge and lawmaker to be their guy to go after the demented DeMint. Hats off, well played.

Now, it’s necessary to stop here and note something important. I have chosen to single out one looney-tunes Democrat and one ribald Republican, not to imply equal responsibility, but simply to show how widespread is the insanity. I do not operate under the faux-balance of many in the US media, where perfectly smart people pretend that 50% of all bad things are Republican, while 50% are Democratic.

In fact, if I were to assign blame for the crazy that has invaded the current US political system – keeping in mind everyone from the Tea Party to Todd Palin – I’d probably feel comfortable assigning about 86.45% to Republicans, 11% to Democrats and 2.55% to Lady Gaga. But that’s just a rough estimate, mind you.

And when you start looking at more and more of the Republicans currently running for office, it can begin to even feel a tad generous. How often do you get the former CEO (Linda McMahon of Connecticut) of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) running for the US Senate? For the uninitiated, the WWE is the high school dropout’s ballet, where Americans pay perfectly good dollar bills to watch half-naked, grown men with the disposition of Carl Paladino pretend to fight, while cutting themselves with razor blades so that it appears more “real.”

The WWE has also functioned as a drug cartel, funnelling steroids to their wrestlers so they could appear ever-more Schwazerneggerian (another Republican). McMahon and her husband Vince even got involved in the clown show, simulating emotional and physical abuse onstage, as well as his committing adultery while she helplessly watched in a comatose state.

It’s like a Saturday night at Mel Gibson’s house!

But even that, apparently, wasn’t “entertaining” enough. So they decided to send their daughter Stephanie onstage and simulate her rape. Yes, you read that right. Linda McMahon, for money, had men simulate the rape of her daughter in front of a crowd of screaming, inebriated, 50-inch-waist men.  Well, geez, I sure hope if she wins she’ll get to Chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This, my friends, is only a taste of the tottering truculents running for higher office in America this year. And with a media establishment that’s in love with political soap opera, a political party (the Republicans) that has come to think of George W. Bush as a dirty liberal, and a Supreme Court that has said it’s perfectly consistent with democracy for any overcompensated, inane individual to dump a billion dollars into a race for town clerk – politics in America should continue to be the provenance of the soulless and shirtless for some time to come.

Winston Churchill once famously said that, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Yet, one perhaps imagines that had Sir Winston seen 21st Century American democracy in action, he wouldn’t have been so hard on all the others.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

Follow Cliff Schecter On Twitter: @Cliffschecter

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


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