The GOP’s angry birds

The Republican presidential candidates debate recently held in Las Vegas was by far the most contentious to date. The candidates rub each other the wrong way sometimes, and it’s starting to show. The gloves are coming off, and these people are getting real.

As I sat there and watched them joust, I couldn’t help but think of the popular smart phone app Angry Birds. In my head, I stopped hearing the talking points and started to hum the theme to the bestselling game. The Republican candidates have turned their attacks on each other’s elaborately constructed and somewhat fragile campaigns, and it’s a bit comical to watch.

First in line is Rick Santorum, playing the role of the big-beaked green bird. Squawky and noisy, the green bird leads with his mouth; his attacks possess the potential to inflict damage, but only in a roundabout fashion. As any iPhone owner can attest, the green bird is the hardest to control, and let’s face it—do we ever really want that one to pop up during gameplay?

Newt Gingrich makes me think of the old, crotchety red bird. Slow and deliberate, this bird is bloated and, some may think, past his prime, but when on target this bird’s tired grunts and lumbering demeanor make short work of his intended target. This bird gets the job done, but it ain’t pretty.

Everybody’s favorite contrarian Ron Paul is reminiscent of the tiny blue bird. Diminutive, quiet and wholly ineffective, the blue bird splits into three even smaller birds that always land on the intended target, but don’t pack enough of a wallop to do anything more than barely shake the behemoth structure in front of them. Occasionally, they get through, but we don’t care. They make a pleasing noise, and it’s kind of fun to watch them launch like fireworks.

With a resounding “whee!” the white bird is catapulted onto the stage, occasionally half-cocked, misguided and although the explosive eggs they drop manage to inflict a lot of damage, the salvos are imprecise, scattered and kind of a waste of time … not unlike those of Rick Perry.

Everybody hates to love the bomb-shaped bird. Wide-eyed with a piercing battle cry, the bomb bird is fiery, potent and has the ability to command everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, the bomb bird is also unpredictable, touchy, and prone to random explosions at exactly the wrong time with only the slightest provocation. Populist darling Michele Bachmann holds every one of these qualities, and her supporters love her dearly for it.

Consistent and predictable, the basic red bird is just like former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. No real fanfare or flashy moves, the red bird goes after the target with a reliable attack that is equally predictable and effective. Does 9-9-9 equal three stars? Only time will tell as the winnowing of the field begins.

This leaves the yellow bird. He flies the farthest, soars the highest, has the best hair and let’s face it—if you want results, the yellow bird has the ability to deliver. Detractors complain that this bird is a one trick pony, but when the others are exhausted, it’s usually the yellow one that has the best chance of finishing the job. Could this one be Mitt Romney?

It’s comically easy to draw these comparisons. The race for the nomination has become increasingly mean spirited, and the process could use a little levity. The reality is, however, one of these people is going to secure the Republican nomination and face off against the best campaigner the world has ever seen, President Barack Obama. Then the real debate starts. In just over a year, Americans will be electing their choice to be the leader of the free world, and that’s no laughing matter.