GOP primary not funny any more

By John Doe

In the beginning, the 2012 Republican Presidentialfield was comically diverse. There wasRep. Michelle Bachmann who said HPV vaccinescaused mental retardation. She said that carbondioxide is not a harmful gas. She re-wrote historyby proclaiming that the founding fathers “workedtirelessly” to end slavery. And Bachmann said thatif we take away minimum wage we could wipe outunemployment.Next, it was businessman Herman Cain’s momentin the sun. But his frontrunner status quicklyfaded after a handful of former female employeesaccused him of sexual harassment.  In trying toexplain his innocence (he couldn’t), Cain implied that for every womanwho came forward with false accusations, there were thousands whodidn’t. But even absent the sex scandal, Cainwouldn’t have lasted much longer because hewas subject to the same kinds of gaffes as Bachmann.Said Cain, “If you don’t have a job andyou’re not rich, blame yourself.”Meanwhile, former House Speaker NewtGingrich, who has risen and fallen in the pollsseveral times, vows to stay in the fight until theend. Along the way, he has provided us withcontinuous laughs and cringes. Responding to a question about the homelessproblem in national parks, Newt said, “Give the park police moreammo.” He also promised to colonize the moon and give it statehood.But my favorite Newtism was when he said of the War on Terror, “Themore successful they’ve been at stopping bad guys, the less proof there isthat we’re in danger.”Mitt Romney, once considered to be the presumptive nominee, keepslosing support every time he opens his silver-spooned mouth. He challengedGov. Rick Perry on a debate point by saying, “I bet you $10,000.” He admitted to strapping the family dog into a carry case on top of hiscar. He also said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor because theyhave a safety net.” And, he tried to sympathize with a crowd of unemployedpeople by saying, “I’m unemployed too.”Yes, the Republican candidates have given us hours of laughter andmany head-scratching moments.

But as the field of competitors has narrowed,so has their rhetoric, most of which is spoken with disturbing religiousfervor. Newt, a Georgia fundamentalist turned born-again Catholic,has tried to gain ground by reminding voters he is the true conservativein the race. Mitt, a Mormon, told CPAC he was “severely conservative,”and admitted to having baptized dead people. But as scary and weird asthat seems, it’s tame compared to the cataclysmic catechisms coming outof Rick Santorum’s mouth over the past few weeks.The former Pennsylvania senator says that American citizens derivetheir rights from God, not the Constitution, and he does not believe in theseparation of church and state. He says that President Obama is a snobfor wanting everyone to go to college. He also believes that homosexualsshouldn’t serve in the military, and that women should be barredfrom combat. He implied that female soldiers could get hurt (translation:have sex or get pregnant). No one knows his reasoning for the ban onhomosexuals in the military, but he sure talks about gay men a lot. If hewins the nomination, perhaps he should name Marcus Bachmann as hisrunning mate. Santorum, a Catholic, also denounces any form of birthcontrol, and says that states should have the rightto make birth control illegal. But if you reallywant to feel some chills going down your spine,listen to what Righteous Rick said about prenatalscreenings. Said Santorum, “Free prenatal testingends up in more abortions.”For the record, the US Dept. of Health andHuman Services says prenatal tests are a standardpart of modern medical care, and that such tests“help keep mother and baby healthy during pregnancy.” And as for birthcontrol, the Centers for Disease Control states, “Consistent and correct useof male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission.” Moreover,14 separate, independent European studies show an 80 percent reduction ofHIV incidence when men use condoms. Yet with all of the data available toprove that condoms and pre natal screenings save lives, Santorum is moreconcerned with church doctrine than he is with health and safety.What’s really frightening, though, is that Santorum is gaining momentum,and could conceivably face off against President Obama this fall. That meanspreacher Rick’s pious bilge will consume the debates and the campaign,rather than important issues like jobs, fair trade, education and wars whichwe can’t afford. The only thing we can do now is “pray” that some moderateRepublican will emerge at a brokered convention. That would leave Santorumdead in the water, and a candidate for a Romney baptism. Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am onWMYV (cable channel 15)