Mr. Cope's Cave: Beer and Weenies 

Of all the separate things that perplex me about the crop of Republican specimens who have declared themselves to be presidential material, the one that makes me most curious concerns what, or who, has convinced these characters that they are appealing human beings.

This has nothing to do with their politics—not in a direct sense, at least. It's possible, I suppose, that their twisted politics are responsible for turning them, almost to a man, into twisted individuals. But I have a hunch they were twisted individuals to start with, and that aberration led them into twisted politics because they could only feel comfortable around others afflicted with the same aberration.

In fact, the entire phenomenon of right-wing fringe ascendancy in recent years, particularly among the leadership, might well be explained by the need of pathetically awkward, personality deprived, humorless weenies to seek out and surround themselves with similarly deficient misfits, thereby enabling them to regard themselves as the norm. And then, once firmly ensconced in such a community, they begin not only to consider themselves normal, but to convince themselves that everyone not in that community is abnormal.

I bring it up today because I've heard that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is on the cusp of announcing he is joining the dundering herd of Republican hopefuls. Since first becoming aware of him—shortly after he and a slop storm of others like him oozed into office in the 2010 off-year election that will echo through the ages as the Tea Party Blip—I have marveled at how a jellyfish like Walker could be elected to the top post of any jurisdiction more auspicious than, perhaps, a dying town's school board or a municipal sewage district. But there he was, Gumby the Abysmal, mistreating teachers and unions and Democratic legislators as though, when he looked into a mirror to squeeze the blackheads on his nose, he saw a tough guy.

And now, he too—along with the likes of Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and enough others to fill an airport shuttle bus—is preparing to go before the American people and spend the next 16 months trying to convince them what a cool dude he is. What a charmer. What a regular Joe. A cat you'd love to sit down and have a beer with—when clearly, he is not.

No, I cannot accept that a man would subject himself and his family to such a humiliating experience as a presidential campaign, not unless he truly believed he really is someone the American people are eager to have a four-year beer with. So someone or something has convinced Walker he's appealing enough that we'd even consider wanting his constant presence in our lives throughout the coming years, when in reality he is the sort that, rather than choose to drink a beer with him, we would rather give up drinking entirely.

But then, he's only one of many. Can anyone with a sense of authenticity imagine turning on the news to Bobby Jindal's fawning face every morning? Or Mike Huckabee, he with the saintly smile and shark's morality? Or Ted Cruz, leering into the camera like the neighbor you tell your children to stay away from? Or Marco Rubio, trying so desperately to act like a grown-up? Or The Donald, being The Donald?

I have avoided calling this bunch "the clown car," in part because it has been such a handy metaphor, everyone is using it, but also because I honestly don't see them as clownish. True clowns are a rarity in our lives. We're lucky (or unlucky, depending on your view of clowns) to come across one in a year's span. People without children may go years without running across a clown. And whether you like clowns or not, you have to admit, clowns can often do things you can't. Juggle, for instance, or draw cute animal faces on toddlers, or turn balloons into dachshunds and giraffes.

I'm afraid the Scott Walkers—the Bobby Jindals, the Trumps, Cruzs, Huckabees, Santorums, et al.—are all too common in our lives. They are the people we dread to see coming our way after church. They are the people we make up excuses to get away from at work. They are the boring people at parties who consider themselves interesting conversationalists. The weenies. The dorks. The dweebs. The people who, the more you get to know them, the less you like them. They are the grinning dicks who have no talents other than to make pests out of themselves.

I look forward to watching their faces as, one by one, they announce they are withdrawing from the race, having been shown any appeal they have is no more than a figment of their imagination.

Happy Fourth, and don't burn anything down.
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