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An Alternate Universe?

The GOP primary race runs amok.

Just a few short years ago, I could have filed this column three days after seeing the results of Super Tuesday on March 6, and say, without hesitation and barring some grievous event, that Mitt Romney would be running for president as the presumptive Republican nominee against Barack Obama in November.

That although Newt and Rick and Ron tried their best, they found themselves far behind the delegate count and by the time this column would appear in April, their campaign money would have dried up and they would have dropped out.

I could also assume that although the campaign rhetoric would be harsh, some lines would never be crossed.

Welcome to a new political world where the primary season begins several months before the first vote is cast, and candidates with super PACs can run amok, like Newt, without worrying about raising money as long as one supporter has a big enough checkbook.

Welcome to a world where the Republican primary candidates call each other simplistic, unrealistic or out of touch, but all agree that the current occupier of the Oval Office is just downright evil and wants to feed the Christians and Israelis to the lions.

That’s the trouble with having too much time on your hands before the real action takes place. When you’re debating the same questions every week for months, as time marches on and the debates garner ratings one-tenth of a Modern Family rerun, you tend to lead with the crazier statements.

And while MSNBC tilts toward Democrats and Fox News slants toward the GOP, CNN resides in its own little drug-addled world. Most college seniors watching CNN on Super Tuesday would have noticed the strong influence of psilocybin mushrooms in the graphic artwork, and I would have expected Wolf Blitzer to come down hard on the entire department on Wednesday, insisting that CNN introduce hourly drug tests and ridding the employee break room of the vending machines that offered rolling papers, birth control pills and glow sticks. But I digress.

In this new world, these four Republican Horsemen of the Apocalypse could still be around by convention time, and we can only wonder what level of rhetoric they’ll be spewing by then.

Columnist George Will wrote that the Republican Party may consider giving up the White House because the candidates are too weak to beat Obama and instead work to gain more Congressional seats. He also offered a few names to run in 2016.

In 2016??? Are you kidding? Can we please get through this year’s election first?

I wonder what political scientists are thinking about our system, and if they have some sort of political/mathematical equation in which the variables of time and money are factored. How much is too much for each? Since campaign finance reform won’t happen — imagine shuttering half the offices on K Street and sending lobbyists and other bottom-feeders scurrying —why not put some type of limits in place?

Think Denmark’s campaign season, which last year ended Oct. 3, 2011, and elected a prime minister, 179 seats of Parliament, garnered 87.7 percent voter turnout rate, and lasted 21 days, with no television ads allowed.

I know, Denmark has a population of 5 million living in a country the size of Vermont, but do you really think that we need a campaign season that’s about a year-and-a-half long?

Wouldn’t we pay better attention if we only had six months to learn about the candidates, and wouldn’t they better be able to give us their plans and beliefs in a more reasonable fashion?

With all that money and all that time already spent on the 2012 presidential campaign, what percentage of people on the street today do you think could name all four Republican presidential candidates?

I’d be afraid to ask, too.



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