The Republican roadshow

They’re an entertaining bunch, but what if one of them wins?

One thing we all can agree on, Republicans, Democrats and independents alike, is that the Republican presidential race has been hugely entertaining—political reality TV, complete with sex scandals, memory lapses, rapid rises and falls, you name it. Adios, Herman! Hello, Newt!

In his Dec. 4 column, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman points out that the candidates come in two main categories: the cynics and the clueless. Embodying the cynics is Mitt Romney, an intelligent man of relatively moderate beliefs who is forced to pander to the right-wingnuts that form the party’s base in order to win the nomination. That’s why he has to denounce President Obama’s health-care plan, even though it’s virtually a carbon copy of the one he established in Massachusetts.

As Krugman puts it, “Mr. Romney’s strategy, in short, is to pretend that he shares the ignorance and misconceptions of the Republican base. He isn’t a stupid man—but he seems to play one on TV.” Which is, of course, why he seems so insincere and the base doesn’t trust him.

No, the base is looking for a true believer—someone who is, in other words, completely clueless. Someone like, say, Rick Perry, who looked great until he opened his mouth. Or Herman Cain, whom Krugman compares to the proverbial dog who catches the car he’s chasing and doesn’t know what to do with it.

The Iowa caucuses are just a month away. Who knows what the next act in this traveling roadshow will bring?

Speaking of reality TV: The city of San Fernando’s got it going on. According to the community paper, the Sun, the police chief is “on vacation” for having sex with a cadet, a police dispatcher was recently caught exposing himself, and a council member was voting on police department matters while having an affair with a police sergeant.

Then, during a Nov. 22 council meeting, Mayor Mario Hernandez announced that he’d lost his business and filed for bankruptcy. “And secondly,” he said, “I’d like to put out there, to squash the rumors, that yes, I have been in a relationship with Councilwoman [Maribel] De La Torre.”

As reporter Diana Martinez, who doubles as editor of the Sun, writes, “Someone should lend the mayor a dictionary because you don’t ‘squash’ a rumor by confirming that it is true.”

Turns out the mayor’s wife was in the audience. When she rose and tried to respond to her husband’s statement, the mayor asked the acting chief of police to escort her from the room. “Councilwoman Sylvia Ballin,” Martinez writes, “was ‘so disgusted’ that she walked off the dais and gave wife Anna a hug.”

Also in the audience was Sev Aszkenazy, publisher of the Sun. He told Hernandez, “You’re a joke. Everyone knows you’re a joke, so just be a joke.”

Hernandez adjourned the meeting early and left with De La Torre. “Ghetto,” muttered Ballin as they left.

The next time you feel like griping about Chico’s council, remember San Fernando.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.