“Politics ain’t beanbag,” but the Republican race is extremely not beanbag: a mix of Tea Party rally, “Real Housewives” and “Game of Thrones.” It’s about who can be the most offensive, paranoid, petty, xenophobic, apocalyptic and attention-grabbing candidate. In other words, it’s about Donald Trump, who tops our FIRST TO LAST list of 2016 blunt-force instruments.
How did it get this bad? There are 16 candidates and no frontrunner, so everyone is desperate to be noticed before the first debate, on Aug. 6, which is limited to the top 10 candidates in national polls. Conflict always is king on cable, but especially when GOP candidates aren’t offering big new positive ideas. Campaigns and the coverage are heavily showbiz: vivid soundbites, gotcha videos and TV attack ads. Dark money is a gusher of anonymous venom.
GOP candidates are playing to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where two terms of Barack Obama have left Republicans fearful of cultural isolation and cynical about politics and even their own leaders. They want angry, nasty, accusatory, anti-establishment talk. But do they really want Trump? "Party leaders" don’t, but that term's an oxymoron.
|DONALD TRUMPChrist Christie would have been No. 1, except Mr. Entertainment, The Donald, now controls the slot reserved for a Metropolitan New York blowhard. The Brick Tamland of 2016.|
|2||CHRIS CHRISTIE“Sit Down and Shut Up,” once so avant garde, now seems tame.|
|3||TED CRUZTold a 3-year-old that the “world's on fire.” Ted, some advice: 3-year-olds don’t vote, they cry.|
|4||MIKE HUCKABEEFormerly warm-and-fuzzy-ish evangelical who gave off a whiff of bipartisan ecumenism. Now all fire-and-brimstone for Iowa again.|
|5||JOHN KASICHThin-skinned Ohioan known for snapping at people, though slightly less crabby than Christie.|
|6||BOBBY JINDALNerdy Ivy Leaguer goes all pitchfork on Supreme Court over gay marriage: “If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”|
|7||LINDSEY GRAHAMSyrupy drawl obscures lizard tongue, which occasionally throws out things like the accusation Code Pink is abetting ISIS.|
|8||SCOTT WALKERRose to prominence on the strength of anti-union propaganda not heard since the '50s. Kochs, who also inhabit that decade, love it.|
|9||RICK SANTORUMHe’s toned down his cutting-edge cultural hysteria, which he pioneered in 2003 with his “man-on-dog” anti-gay rhetoric. But we can always hope. Arfff.|
|10||BERNIE SANDERS"Maybe I shouldn't say this, I like Hillary Clinton." Wait, what?|
Candidate Photos: Getty, Associated Press