The Republican comedy road show

I am beginning to wonder if Herman Cain and the entire Republican field are not performance artists and the whole campaign is one big act. Take a look at this long new internet ad from Herman Cain, which is even weirder than the previous blowing smoke ad.

At least the production values have improved a lot. But this ad demonstrates perfectly the fact that the campaign seems to be oblivious to jarring notes. The first part is quite clever and amusing. Then when the actor steps out of the role at the 1:40 mark and becomes presumably himself, he acts like a egotistical and self-important jerk who is rude to the crew. Why would the ad’s producers think that an endorsement from such an unlikable person would be a positive thing? And what’s with that slow creepy smile at the end that seems to be becoming Cain’s trademark?

Stephen Colbert generates more ad ideas for the Cain campaign in the same vein.

In a comment to my earlier post, John suggested that these odd ads may be a smart strategy on Cain’s part since the smoker ad has attracted so much attention. I am not convinced. Being talked about is good to gain name recognition but Cain’s among Republican voters is already high at 80%, so he does not need more buzz. What he needs to do is convince people that he is a credible leader. It is one thing to have people laugh with you at something clever and funny that you put out, it is quite another to have them laugh at you for seeming to be a little strange. Coming out with ads that are ridiculed even by the people in your own party, such as this parody by Jon Huntsman’s three daughters, is not a good sign.

If it was only people like me who are laughing at the antics of the Republican field, trying to outbid each other in pandering to the looniest segments of their party’s base, that would be one thing. But even Republican party stalwarts are sounding the alarm. Neoconservative columnist John Podhoretz is one of those clearly worried about the looniness that seems to have overtaken the Republican party although, as Charles Pierce correctly points out, he and his fellow ‘moderate’ and ‘sensible’ Republicans benefitted for over three decades because of their careful cultivation and grooming of the crazy base that is all grown up now and biting the hand that fed them. Podhoretz scolds Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney as if they were children, saying:

Memo to the Republican field: You’re running for president. Of the United States. Of America. Start acting like it.

Stop proposing nonsense tax plans that won’t work. Stop making ridiculous attention-getting ads that might be minimally acceptable if you were running for county supervisor in Oklahoma. Stop saying you’re going to build a US-Mexico border fence you know perfectly well you’re not going to build.

Give the GOP electorate and the American people some credit. This country is in terrible shape. They know it. You know it. They want solutions. You’re providing comedy.

Enough with the foolishness. Stop it. Stop it now.

But it is too late. All these conservatives and neoconservative Republican party stalwarts calling for sensible behavior are the ones who sowed the seeds of this behavior. They cannot complain if the plants are now strangling them. Back in November 2008, I pinpointed the precise moment when they lost control and that was John McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin to be his running mate. That let loose the furies that we now see driving the party’s agenda.

If they want to pin the blame on someone, it should be John McCain.

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