American idiots

How did the campaign for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination turn into such a joke?

American idiots

Isaac Brekken/AP

“We are protecting Herman Cain,” announced a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service on Nov. 18. The Godfather’s Pizza magnate became the first Republican candidate for U.S. president to request Secret Service protection in this election cycle, and a campaign spokesman told the Washington Post that Cain needed protection from reporters, who have been “trying to follow him with a lot of heavy equipment and cameras.” Cain later denied this, saying only that he needed the protection “because of the popularity of my campaign.” By the time he said that, though, his popularity was declining, with polls showing that his support was going to another candidate—Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker who resigned in disgrace in 1998 and spent most of the next few years reviewing spy novels on Amazon.com. It was a familiar step in a bizarre campaign season: reporters stop focusing on one transparently unelectable candidate, and move on to what historian Rick Perlstein calls “the next shiny object,” an equally unelectable candidate.

The Republican campaign season, from Donald Trump’s birtherism to Rick Perry’s inability to remember which government agency he wanted to cut, has been one of the wildest in recent memory. It drove apostate conservative David Frum to lament the effect the conservative movement was having on the presidential race: in a widely discussed article, he called the parade of Tea Party candidates “a series of humiliating fizzles and explosions that never achieved liftoff.” With Republican voters fired up to beat Barack Obama but also disillusioned with politics in general, any candidate who claims to be a political outsider can get a serious look. Doug Gross, an Iowa Republican operative and former gubernatorial candidate, told Maclean’s that candidates like Cain or Trump “are products of the voters’ concerns about the failure of the current system to produce leaders who can solve problems.”

There have always been freaky candidates in every election, of course. Cain, an amusing rich guy who got a lot of publicity and then flamed out, isn’t that different from Steve Forbes in the 1996 and 2000 elections—except that Forbes actually won a couple of primaries. But usually there are a few respectable candidates that the race can focus on: in 2000, it was mostly about George W. Bush and John McCain, and we could easily dismiss most of the fringe candidates. In this cycle, it’s the respectable Republicans who are getting dismissed, while the fringe candidates rise. Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who had an impressive resumé and was taken seriously by the press, attracted no interest and was forced to drop out early.

The people who have led in the polls mostly aren’t the respectable types; they’re people like Cain, like Gingrich, like Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman who once delivered an entire televised speech while looking into the wrong camera; like Sarah Palin, who never actually entered the race; like Trump, who spent most of his campaign trying to bring anti-Obama conspiracy theories into the mainstream. It’s what Perlstein calls “this kind of clash of the titans, these third-tier figures fighting for an identity as the purest, the most extreme, the most Tea Party-friendly candidates.” Reporters sometimes rule out a candidate as being too extreme, like the aging pro-life libertarian Ron Paul. But this time, if they dismissed every implausible candidate, they’d have no race to cover. And so while Perlstein says “none of these guys have a chance,” Cain or Bachmann or Trump have to be covered as though they can win: “It’s a full employment program for political pundits and political reporters, not to mention political consultants.”

The problem with being a fringe candidate who gets taken seriously, though, is that fringe candidates usually aren’t prepared to handle the pressure—“They tend to wither under scrutiny,” Perlstein says, and the media moves on. No one has ever been less prepared for major media scrutiny than Herman Cain. Since he started winning straw polls and debates this fall, he’s been taken seriously as a candidate, including the increased scrutiny that comes with being a front-runner. Women who accused him of sexual harassment came forward to repeat their charges, which Cain declared to be a trick of the “Democrat machine.” Reporters tried to get him to talk about Libya and were told that he couldn’t remember what he thinks because “I got all this stuff twirling around in my head.” People made videos showcasing his comments about Muslims, like his vow to refuse to appoint a Muslim to cabinet. All of this was normal treatment for a first-tier candidate, but he seemed ill-equipped to deal with it; knowing that every anti-Muslim comment he made would turn up on YouTube, he still continued to tell a story about his fear when he found out his doctor’s name was “Abdallah.”

But Cain, like all the other wacky candidates, has an ace up his sleeve: with no real chance to win, he doesn’t have to run a serious campaign. He certainly doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously. In October, when he was riding high in the polls, reporters noticed that he wasn’t doing the things a candidate needs to do to take advantage of those poll numbers—like raising money and starting a campaign apparatus. “Cain’s got nothing,” a South Carolina GOP strategist told Talking Points Memo, while ABC News went to Cain’s Iowa campaign headquarters and found no one there. The New York Times looked at his calendar of campaign events and found that “19 of the 31 days of October are blank,” because he spent most of the month promoting his book, This is Herman Cain!, instead of, say, fundraising. In the key state of New Hampshire, he failed to show up for an interview with a newspaper whose endorsement he was supposedly looking for.

Some commentators started to suspect that the campaign was a fake. Liberal pundit Jonathan Chait wrote that Cain doesn’t have a campaign, but a business plan, which involves “raising his profile as a conservative personality, which he can monetize through motivational speaking, book sales, talk shows and other media.” Looked at from that point of view, the Cain train is a brilliant marketing strategy, a piece of political performance art done for a price.

Even some of Cain’s gaffes have a showbiz quality to them; he once was quoted as saying “we need a leader, not a reader,” which, it was pointed out, was an inadvertent swipe from president Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Simpsons Movie (“I was elected to lead, not to read”). Meanwhile, Perlstein says, Cain’s very presence in the race was “useful for the Republican party, because they’re always on the lookout for someone to prove that they’re not racist.” Intentionally or not, Cain has put together a campaign that fails as politics but succeeds as a branding strategy. The same goes for Bachmann, Gingrich and others; there has never been a better time, in terms of money or publicity, to be an improbable candidate.

Compared to these reality show contestants, it’s almost dull to watch the one “serious” candidate. That would be Mitt Romney, the former moderate who stepped down as governor of Massachusetts in 2006 and has been running for president ever since. “I would have put money on Mitt Romney 18 months ago,” says Perlstein, whose Before the Storm recounts the 1964 election that created the modern Republican party. In a party where Ronald Reagan got the nomination four years after losing to Gerald Ford, Romney is the natural choice after getting beaten by McCain in 2008. “Waiting your turn is a factor,” Gross says of his party, adding that “having run before and done relatively well helps in subsequent cycles because of the experience granted the candidate.”

That experience, the sense of knowing what works in a campaign, may explain why Romney is the only person not committing campaign-ending gaffes. Rick Perry, expected to be a serious conservative alternative to Romney, destroyed his credibility with the base when he argued that immigration hard-liners “don’t have a heart.” Romney has mastered the art of defending his unorthodox positions without offending anyone. When he defends his Massachusetts health care plan, so similar to the hated “Obamacare,” he always includes a nod to conservative concerns: “I’ll get rid of Obamacare. I know why it’s bad. I know how it’s different than what we did and why it needs to be taken off the books,” he told talk radio host Sean Hannity. If the other candidates will say anything to get attention, Romney will only say things that make him electable.

But the very fact that he makes so few mistakes may be what makes Romney so boring to Republican primary voters. In the last Real Clear Politics average of polls, Romney was stuck at 21 per cent, with most of Cain’s former support going to Gingrich. New front-runners keep popping up because voters don’t like Romney, and don’t like being told that they have to vote a certain way. William Kristol, the influential Fox News contributor and editor of The Weekly Standard, summed up the base’s thinking when he wrote that Romney is not inevitable and that “Here in America, we the people rule by electing. We don’t bow to those anointed by pundits.” The search for an anti-Romney goes on.

Perlstein thinks the search will eventually have to end as voters accept that there’s no one else but Romney: “Have you ever heard the expression ‘Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line?’ ” Gross hasn’t yet endorsed a candidate, but thinks electability matters most to voters: “Republican voters are looking for someone who can win.” But as the polls have shown, voters are also looking for ideological reinforcements, and most of the front-runners have offered it: Cain argued that he, not Obama, was the real post-racial candidate, while Gingrich has become a spokesman for the base’s dislike of the Occupy movement.

That’s why conservatives are still looking for a better alternative to Romney, even after the first caucuses begin. In his article, Kristol wistfully hoped for a run by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Bush brother Jeb, and even contemplated the possibility of people who already said they aren’t running: “Hello, Mike Huckabee! Hello, Sarah Palin!” Herman Cain won’t be the next Republican nominee, but if it’s not Mitt Romney, it could be because he helped whet conservatives’ appetite for someone more exciting. Or at least more fun.


American idiots

  1. A very good and incisive article. 

    Sadly/Happily, the extreme fringe elements of the Republican Party have taken over its mainstream.

    • I disagree that this article is any good whatsoever.  The nearly complete omission of Ron Paul and the ideas he has brought forward is either pure incompetence on the part of the reporter, or worse, a deliberate snub to a top 3 candidate in the likes I would expect only Fox News. I expect far better from Maclean’s and I’m not sure I’ll renew by subscription after seeing this joke piece of “journalism.”

      • What’s the issue?

        Ron Paul is still very much in contention several others are not.

        I did like his castigation of the Donald Trump Reality TV Debate. He spoke his mind unequivocally…

  2. Ron Paul needs more coverage. The youth like him, and the youth are the future. Why not talk about him more? google him through the news section, and you will see for yourself.

    • Like his anti-war stance…. based on the fact that US military spending (more than the rest of the G20 combined) is a major reason for their fiscal woes.   However, his libertarian, personal responsibility stance extends to healthcare…………. he’d dismantle ALL government healtcare options and guarantees.  I do, personally like his honesty and consistency. He’d be more interesting to have dinner with than any of them.

      • He’s just more wet leaves from the Tea Party.

        But I do agree US has spent far too much on “defence” ever since Viet Nam.  Actually it is not defence spending mostly but aggression spending – Viet Nam, Iraq, wanting to be the biggest and toughest cop on the block.

        • Actually since the cold war.  The US didn’t have a large standing army between WW I and WW II.   Ironically President Dwight D. Eisenhauer (R) coined the phrase “Military Industrial Complex” as he was leaving office as a caution to society that it was developing a life of its own and driving military spending on domestic arms production.   Check out a great documentary, “Why We Fight”……… sorry I don’t recall the producer. 

          • The term “standing army” is outmoded.  It kept a huge US Air Force and an equally huge Navy, sufficient to handle 2 1/2 theatres.

          • Of course. “Standing army” is an old and probably outdated expression for the military.  Should be standing armed forces… or less cumbersome, standing military.

      • I saw saw an interview with Ron Paul. He had some good ideas, and as a Democrat can agree with.  Except he wanted to do away with Dept. of Education, was for more home schooling and doing away with a federal highway maintenance program.  He wanted that to be privatized.  If he is against these, then eventually he would do away with things we consider necessary, like FEMA.  Where would our country be – just check out this summer’s great Hurricane Irene and Lee – the devastation. It was necessary that twe had FEMA.

  3. This was an excellent summary that pieced together some terrific insights.  Jaime Weinman should be commended.  Unfortunately, however, the passing reference to Ron Paul made it seem as if Jaime is about three weeks behind latest developments.  Ron Paul is surging, Jaime, and the U.S. polls are deceptive when it comes to his growing strength.  You should try to be more cutting edge and write about Dr. Paul’s core group and how they plan to convert the “undecideds” in the key states.

    Gingrich is also posturing for profit.  He’ll do a fast fade just in time for the primaries.

    • er… you mean the next primaries?

    • Paul may be surging, but he won’t make it.  Paul’s ideas all sound pretty good, until you get to the details.  Pual never address the unemployment that we have now OR the increased unemployment we would have when he dismantles much of the current federal bureaucracy.  He also forgets to mention that there would be no more federal funds available to states, which would mean a whole lot of state and local government employees out of work.  He also forgets to mention how he would handle the couple million of unemployed defense contractors due to his HEAVY cuts on defense. NOTE: most of these jobs are middle class, college educated jobs. Let’s not forget the couple hundred thousand unemployed soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines out looking for work.    

      Now let’s just think about what will happen with the heavy cuts he will take to Tricare (largest health insurance ‘company’ in the country), medicare, and medicaid.   What are his plans for Social Security? Just think about that for a second.  I guess the one good thing this would do would be bringing families closer together.  If you have aging parent, they are going to come live with you due to the reduction in federal support programs.  If they get sick, you are going to carry a heavy burden getting them medical services.  One thing for sure, the mortuary business would see an upswing in job growth to handle the fallout from Paul’s plans. 

      His heart is in the right place, but he is either very nieve or doesn’t care about ‘my fellow americans’.  The only ones that would see any benefits from his ideas would be the very wealthy (isn’t he a multi millionaire?) or the backwoods men of this country.  Paul’s economic understanding is rather shallow.  He does not see or does not want to see the complex economic relationships that keep this country working. And when pressed on some of these issues he falls back on ‘the free market’ will take care of it.  Yes, it eventually will, but there will be a whole lot of casualties along the way, and most will be the middle class.

  4. Paragraphs are your friend.

  5. Ever heard of paragraphs?  UNREADABLE!

    • Those ARE paragraphs. You know, things that fully develop an idea. Just because you prefer a series of Twitter-style blurbs to fully developed thoughts dosn’t mean we all do.

  6. One of the best candidates has been more thoroughly ignored than even Ron Paul: Jon Huntsman. Huntsman is the only candidate with any sort of unique solutions to America’s current problems. Unfortunately it seems that Republicans aren’t interested in creative solutions as much as waging war against Obama and the Democrats.

    • Nobody is interested in “unique solutions”. They want solutions that fit with their belief system. 

      Democrat: “Stimulus. Invest in people. Duh”
      Republican: “Tax cuts. Free up people’s money. Duh”
      Democrat: “Dude, that’s so wrong.” 
      Republican: “Dude, you’re such a communist.” 

      I just summarized the bulk of political debate in the US. OK, maybe they’re not calling each other “dude” yet, but I’m sure that’s on its way. As for the “duhs”, they’re implicit, but they’re certainly there. Worse, the people who rise to the top are the very people who screwed the country over on their way up. Newt Gingrich earned $1.8 million “consulting” fees from Freddy Mae in the run-up to their spectacular blowout. I’m sure he gave them wonderful advice and earned every penny of it. :)

      Nobody talks about tax reform, such as eliminating the various perverse incentives and deductions that have been distorting a credit-crazy society’s every decision for the past four decades. No one talks about anything real. 

      • As usual, Raging Ranter is right on the money.

  7. Is it the pro-life part of Ron Paul that’s extreme ? As a libertarian he thinks that’s not the Federal Government’s business anyways. Or wanting to drastically cut the budget and bring the troops home from costly pointless foreign wars ? Isn’t that exactly what the US needs to do ?

    Paul’s greatest hurdle is the Republican nomination. After that against Obama he’s highly electable.

    Re: his age he seems to have more vitality than the rest of them. Nobody can stand up to him in a debate. I expect Obama would be the same.

    Here is a great little debate on his electability:


    • He’s not establishment, and therefore he has no chance. He’s too big a threat to far too many powerful people. If he does look like he’s going to take the prize, the big money will come along and steamroll him. 

  8. America will go down the drain if Obama serves another term…

    • Funny, I thought it was Dubya’s 2 terms that got them circling the bowl.

      • Funny, four years ago we were having this same debate using the name “Clinton” in place of “Obama.” Eight years before that it was “GHW Bush” vs. “Clinton.” Before that it was “Reagan” vs. “Carter.”

        Would you guys just stop this nonsense. It’s not the parties. It’s the State.

    • Or rather if Congress doesn’t get its act together instead of sacrificing their country to get rid of a President they dislike.

      • This week’s debacle with the deadlocked bipartisan committee is just the latest example of how out of touchand dysfunctional Congress is. The whole lot of them should be tried for treason, as their actions appear to be a deliberate effort to undermine and sabotage their own government to “win” political points.

        If the Occupy movement had any sense, they’d converge on Washington and insist every member of that committee resign.

        Better yet, they’d change to a “defeat every incumbent” movement. Could a House full of rookies possibly be any worse? 

        • Agree….but:  The trouble is that the system demands so many millions to be elected that I’ve read that your average congressperson spends up to 40 percent of their working hours fundraising for their re-election… which gives lobbyists, especially those with deep pockets (like, oh, Oil Companies and Health Insurance Companies) ALOT of power….AND: With the same people owning the commercial media, most people buy the line that they have a democracy…and that the non-commercial media (PBS, NPR etc) is all full of ‘leftist bias’.  I know people who actually believe that Fox News presents a balanced view.  (I’d laugh but it’s dangerous when the populace of the most powerful military nation in the world is so ignroant.

    • They’ve been screwed over by every leader since Kennedy, and possibly even further back than that. 

      • And the story goes that he was busy doing it himself

  9. Once again, the MSM ignores Ron Paul. One mention in the context of an article that describes all Republican candidates as “idiots,” while it must be noted that MacLean’s is also incapable of finding fault with any of Paul’s views.

    Dismissing him as a “pro-life” libertarian is spooky enough to the Canadian reader, though, that the character assassination attempt is complete. 

    Way to be part of the problem, MacLean’s.

    • Reducing the size of the State is even more scary to left-leaning Canadians.

      Very extreme indeed.

      • What would scare us would be if we had a non-system like their healthcare which costs nearly 3 times as much per capita and can’t deliver results…. Ours isn’t perfect ; there are at least a dozen which are better without costing more (Mix of public / private)  but we rank better than the US…….. which has a system designed by their doctors and their insurance companies for their own benefit.  Conservative Americans, many of them lower middle class, are such suckers.

        • The above article has nothing to do with the Canadian healthcare system, so you’re making a straw man argument. You have also exposed your prejudices.

          You are prejudice against:
          1 – Conservatives
          2 – Americans
          3 – Members of lower income groups

          • LOL. Ryan seems to want to make this personal.  I won’t bite. 
            Let me explain:Healthcare is the largest single expenditure (public and private) in most economies and Congress has succumbed to their lobby-masters to make “Obama-care” INCREASE the cost of healthcare in the states… as the flagship of their willingness to sacrifice their country’s wealth, security, and economic stability with a goal of creating a failed first term for their president. Pointing out that many of the middle class (tea-party grass roots) are gullible enough to oppose something that will ultimately benefit them as well as the impoverished (as well, ironically, as large corporate America) is an objective observation.  The candidates listed have ALL jumped on this bandwagon. Pity that American commercial media is about all that most of these people ‘watch’.
            ALL the conservatives with the exception of libertarian Ron Paul would deny women the right to a safe abortion in their country… which, elsewhere, has led to the death of hundreds if not thousands of young women, especially the poor who can’t afford to jet off to more enlightened jurisdictions to have their abortions. (South Africa is a great example) 

        • Here’s an interesting talk by an Austrian School economist on the Canadian Health Care System. I think we are a bit deluded as to how good ours is. He says ours is about 30% cheaper but we control cost through reducing supply, fewer doctors, long lines, etc. Thus they get more for the money in that sense.

          So I think its actually debatable whether ours is better.


          • I agree that there’s no question that we have NOT the best healthcare system in the world. I’ve worked in other healthcare systems and will happily say that most of them use the presence of a private option to IMPROVE the public system.  That said, however, on nearly every measure, we rank higher than the US. 
            Problem, in North America is that both Canadians and Americans are slaves to dogma. All we compare ourselves with is each other. The Americans see our wait times for some procedures and shudder… the cons also make stuff up (death panels, LOL).  …. AND … all you have to do to get most Canadians to reject a proposition is to label it “American Style Healthcare”.  Australia, for example, provides free medical travel and accommodation for rural folk, a public (free) dental plan (with a wait), and, free-pharmacare from birth, but allow people to jump OUT of the queue to have procedures privately and allow some copayment for some services.  Not saying all of their system is perfect, this is not the place to discuss THEIR flaws but we must keep an open mind.

          • We need to keep in mind that “free” means we still pay for it just in our taxes not at the doctor’s office.

  10. The writer, as with so many of the mainstream press, fails to understand the appeal of Cain or others like him. What’s important is that the candidate have a sincere love of his country and enough intelligence to surround himself with people who can figure out how to translate this love into appropriate action. I don’t need the most intelligent or the most informed person at this stage, because that doesn’t always guarantee anything of substance. I’d rather be governed by someone who shares my beliefs in love of country and is not afraid to put those beliefs into action. 

    Why should Cain know everything about Libya at this stage? On what basis? He’s a businessman coming into politics. Where is it written he should be up to speed on all matters Presidential. Was Obama? There’s plenty of opportunity for any candidate to learn what will be needed and hire the right people who are the experts. Give me a straight shooting fellow who has the right intent, and I can learn to live with that. In a year Cain would understand foreign matters as well as anyone, as would you or I if we spent the time to learn. 

    For now, he’s campaigning on character and that’s what should count most. I’m not discounting the lady scandals, but those have not been proven. Obama has plenty of hinted sex scandals of his own, mostly involving men, but since they haven’t been proven, he gets a free pass.  Google Obama and sex scandals if you don’t believe it, Obama and The Globe or Larry Franklin to learn more.

    Sure, we can have another go with President Obama. Someone who had just about zero experience coming into the Presidency, a leader who shows little understanding the American psyche, surrounds himself with radical left wingers intent on changing the basic character of the US and who at best displays a lukewarm love for his country. As for Obama’s understanding of foreign policy, it was nil from the start and since then he has made mistake after mistake, only one of which was encouraging the Arab spring which will no doubt come back to haunt the US in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Regarding Obama’s vaunted “intelligence”, this could perhaps be the greatest oxymoron of all time. So let’s keep vetting the Republicans. That’s the process and it’s a valuable one. Hopefully we will end up with the best candidate but regardless, not a single one has thus far shown the weaknesses Obama continues to show on an all too frequent basis.

    • “I’m not discounting the lady scandals, but those have not been proven. ”
      Really? I guess the fact that settlements were paid, in the 90’s, doesn’t count as proven?

      • It’s well known that settlements are paid to get rid of nuisance seekers in the corporate world. Those payments neither confirm nor negate what may have happened. Would you like to be convicted in court because a complainer against you was given a settlement? 

        The fact remains, nothing has been proven but the allegations may well have merit. And by the way, what he was accused of, on a scale of 1-10, ranks about a 5 at most. 

        Like I said, if you want to check out sex scandals by politicians, why not start with Obama? The allegations are certainly out there.

        • 1. The laughable part of this scandal is that he’s complaining that it’s a DEMOCRAT plot.  Dems would LOVE to see him, or any of the other brainless get the nomination.
          2. The disgusting part is the way he and the Reps are talking about the courageous women who’ve stepped forward and gone public.

    • Hah. “Why should Cain know anything about Libya at this stage?”  !!  Hell, most average Canucks businessmen, doctors, firemen, teachers, longshoremen…. (not as many Americans, granted) know a hell of a lot more than this clown. Why SHOULD he?  He’s running to be the ‘Commander in Chief” of the most  powerful military in the world (which cost his country more than the next 20 top COMBINED) and being so ignorant will be as gullible and easily led as Dubya was by Rumsfeldt et al…. costing 100,000 Iraqi lives and 1,000,000 Iraqi’s displaced.
      Why, indeed !! 

    • “Obama has plenty of hinted sex scandals of his own, mostly involving men…”

      First I’ve ever heard of this. Sounds like a baseless smear to me. Can you back it up?

  11. Notwithstanding the accuracy of the article, Canada’s news magazine should not be using the headline “American idiots” unless it’s a direct quote from one of the protagonists or commentators. That piece of needless rudeness is matched by the disrespect shown to readers with the paragraph-less style. Someone needs a supervisor.

    • You’re right there.  I sent the column to my American in-laws with a disclaimer…. it’s only the Republican TeaParty candidates to whom the headline applies.

    • Title may have been inspired by the Green Day-based Broadway musical that’s coming to Toronto.

      And what’s with all the Twitterhead comments about overlong paragraphs? Can’t anyone read a thought that takes more than 140 characters to express anymore?

      • Keith, the original article that was up last week was just one huge paragraph with no carriage returns and no spaces between any of the lines.

  12. Good one article.  Catchy headline… my American friends will soon realize it refers only to their fringe

  13. No paragraphs?

    Typical Leftist rant, never coming up for air.

    [This is why I dropped my subscription to Maclean’s]

    • What on earth do you mean…a leftist rant…can’t you accept reliable criticism when offered it, or would you rather prefer right-wing slander?

    • Thanks for backing up your statements! 

    • Plenty of paragraphs. Not the author’s fault if you have the attention span of a goldfish.

      • When this article first appeared, it was NOT separated into paragraphs. They have since changed the webpage.

  14. Once again another long winded article describing the republican candidates without one reference to the real contender in this race RON PAUL!!
    Media needs to get their collective heads out their $%!.

    • Knock it off.  Quite a few people on this page touting Paul. What did you guys do? Send out a tweet to gather here. A doctor who doesn’t like a government health plan? In the USA? Tell me something new. Anti abortionist? Tell me something new!

      For him to go anywhere the American Republican electorate would have to be crazy. Well. . .. .

  15. It’s a gong show down there.

  16. Is Jon Huntsman running? With Rick Perry mentaility level not fit for a regular policeman and running for President, only Texas would endorse him.

  17. Those here complaining about the “idiots” title have a point : it’s needlessly emotive and or e to the point, doesn’t fit well with an otherwise well-written (and woefully formatted!!!) story.  To those loyal adherents of Ron Paul: he doesn’t get much coverage by the MSM because he is the antithesis of electable (whether he should be unelectable or not is another story, but he is); he is unelectable because the libertarian views of Mr. Paul, while eminently discussable, do not fit into the moral framework of half of the American voting population.  Libertarians want the government out of virtually everything (without being able to offer cogent or rational explanations of how that would work… other than “the market knows!) while the Republican/right/neo-conservative half of the American voting pool wants the government out of a selected subset of things (business, regulation, equality, the environment, health care, taxation) and highly active in a negative way in the those areas they deem “moral” – gender politics, crime, drugs, abortion, religion among others.  Paul cannot make his philosophically consistent positions palatable to those who rate them against a moral scale (just as Palin, Bachman et al cannot make their positions electable on a rational basis even though they are judged as superlative on the moral scale).

    • Paul’s issues: (1) Audit the Federal Reserve, (2) legalize the use of gold as legal tender, (3) End the military occupation in the Middle East.

      Wooo spooky! Libertarians are trying to dismantle the universe!

      Sorry that doesn’t fit your dismissive narrative about how all libertarians are crackpots, but it sure sounds like you need to be aware of the positions held by those you criticize.

  18. They’ll get the leaders and government they deserve and they don’t deserve much.

    On a formatting note, has no one at Macleans heard of how to write for the web? Hint – one long, never-ending paragraph doesn’t cut it.

  19. I am reminded again why I quit subscribing to Maclean’s a long time ago.

    • So Don. Who are you subscribing to now?

  20. Herman Cain is the front runner that the media wants to paint as an idiot. Those that do so are simply showing their own ignorance of the facts and Mr. Cain’s background. Intelligent and informed voters are not paying any attention to hit pieces like this one. We know the facts and they are not found here.

  21. Obama = Romney = Perry = Cain = Gingrich = different puppets, same deceitful/ traitorous federal reserve/Bankster masters.

    Gingrich = endless wives, endless wars/empire, $1.8-Million Freddie-mac bribe, commie Gingrichcare, 3rd world amnesty/welfare, $16-Trillion/bailouts.

    Cain = Kansas Federal Reserve thug, “Libya swirls in my head”, unauthorized finger in panties, $16-Trillion/Bailouts, endless wars/empire.

    Romney = commie Romneycare, racist quotas, $16-Trillion/bailouts, abortion, gun control, bloodthirsty war-lust, campaign funding by Banksters.

    Perry = Gardasil for little girls, free health/ education/house/food/amnesty for 3rd world invaders, “niggerhead” on farm, “oops, whats the 3rd one?”, “Bank-of-America helping him out”.

    End the wars/empire, end the federal reserve/IMF/World Bank/BIS/UN/WTO, end racist quotas/unconstitutional departments, end TSA/DHS/ADL/SPLC and other Orwellian crime syndicates.  

    Ron Paul will restore Sound money, strong national defense, liberty, free enterprise, local government, strong traditional families, Western Civilization.

    • Wasn’t a bribe. It was a “consulting fee”. C’mon, Learn the language!! :)

    • Ron Paul is a threat to far too many powerful people. Where would the financial masters and merchants of debt misery be with no Fed printing presses to constantly create more debt instruments for them to play with? Wall Street runs the country. 

  22. Watching the GOP candidates reminds me of the Monty Pyton skit “upper class twit of the year” where in the target shooting challenge the contestents can’t find the gun, look down the barrel, or stick it in their ear.  The bar has been set so ridiculously low by the media; Michelle Bachmann is hailed as a foreign policy expert because she actually knows that Pakistan has nuclear weapons  – – –.

    • It reminds me of the 100 metre dash for people with no sense of direction. That is, when it doesn’t remind of the 26 mile marathon for people who think they’re chickens. 

  23. I never heard of him before but just as a wild guess I would say the author of this article would be some variety of liberal.

  24. Among Republicans, one in five (19%) would vote for Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain in the GOP primary while 16% would vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and 15% would vote for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Other candidates are all under 10% including Rick Perry (9%), Ron Paul (5%), Michele Bachman (2%), Jon Huntsman (2%), Rick Santorum (1%) and Gary Johnson at less than 1%. Three in ten Republicans (30%), however, are still not at all sure who they would vote for in the Republican primary. (Harris Poll 11/21/2011)

  25. Among Republicans, one in five (19%) would vote for Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain in the GOP primary while 16% would vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and 15% would vote for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Other candidates are all under 10% including Rick Perry (9%), Ron Paul (5%), Michele Bachman (2%), Jon Huntsman (2%), Rick Santorum (1%) and Gary Johnson at less than 1%. Three in ten Republicans (30%), however, are still not at all sure who they would vote for in the Republican primary. (Harris Poll 11/21/2011)

    Deletion of the facts does not make them untrue. Please start reporting the facts instead of making up stories to support your agenda.

  26. The title is inflammatory, insulting, and open to very wide misinterpretation.  We as Canadians garner less and less support and empathy from our border partners with this media-inspired polarization.

    Jounalists are, of course, entitled to their opinions, but please curb your editors’ penchants for the uber hyperbole.  It does not serve Canada well.   American media won’t go to the trouble to route out the facts of the article when the title provides them with ample fodder for their own sensationalization of our relationship with the U.S.

    Paul Baker
    North Bay, ON

  27. Three of the last 5 weeks I’ve spent in the US listening to all the political rhetoric on both sides of the fence.  It is about time the US started pulling together as a nation and it seems that Mitt Romney, boring or not, has the experience and business acumen to clean-up the excessive spending and internal corruption that is plaguing the American people.

    • The problems in the US will not likely get cleaned up as long as the Tea Party protects the rich and Republicans kowtow to the Tea Party

      • Ron Paul is not about protecting the rich. 

  28. I like how Weinman, the guy who watches tv all day and has naughty fantasies about Buffy, declares that quite accomplished people are ‘idiots’.

    National Review ~ Conservatives In Mist:

    But, my point is, whenever I read liberals reporting about the goings-on of conservatives I always get the nature-documentary vibe. A liberal reporter puts on his or her Dian Fossey hat in order to attempt to write another installment of Conservatives in the Mist. I’ve followed this particular brand of reporting for years, it’s almost a fetish of mine. Most attempts fail. Of these lesser varieties, there’s fear (“Troglodytes!”), mockery (“Irrelevant troglodytes!”), condescension (“I had to explain to them they’re troglodytes.”), bewilderment (“Why don’t they understand they’re troglodytes?”), astonishment (Dear God, they’re not all troglodytes!”), and a few combinations of all the above.

  29. This is journalism? Cain is a successful businessman who has lived in the real world. Obama has never had a job and is the most useless president since Jimmy Carter. What are the Demos afraid of – fewer jobs in academia and the government where people are grossly overpaid and overpensioned for doing nothing, or very little worthwhile.

  30. The headline writer should be demoted to the mail room. How about European idiots – Sarkozy, Merkel, Cameron, et al.

  31. The Republican faithful are looking for someone who can re-create the post-WWII era magic where the American industrial machine was the only one in the world still standing — Japan was obliterated, Europe was (almost) bombed back to the stone age — the launch that this 50’s to early 70’s export boom gave the U.S. economy was followed by a debt fueled prosperity ride that is only now sputtering to the side of the road.  If only a “back to the future” messiah can be found the magic will return!

  32. Absolutely no one could do any worse than Obama. I’m supporting Charlie McCarthy in 2012.

  33. What about John Huntsman Jr?  The writer didn’t even bother to mention him though for me he’s probably the best candidate for the Republicans.  But, of course, he actually talks sense.  Who wants sense?

  34. The article seemed principally to be about Herman Cain who, as Jonathan Chait pointed out, entered unprepared for all the scrutiny he is getting but well prepared to cash in on his book and pick up speakers’ fees a la Palin, once the futility was over. This is the ego-driven and greedy way that had Donald Trump hinting at joining the circle and has his alter ego, Newt Gingrich, leading the pack as of today. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann were both high hopes at their entrance but soon proved to be the lightweights they are. Romney, the flipflopper, has remained steady in the polls but evidently is too smart for the teabaggers so can’t break away. That leaves Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul. Santorum and Huntsman have never caught fire although Huntsman has the best credentials of all the candidates by far. Ron Paul is an honest man and is honest to his beliefs but Libertarianism will never sell in the US to the point of electing a Libertarian party leader, much less a president. So the Grand Old Party is in a state of flux unless they can come up with an electable leader and their recourse in the meantime is to pull out the dirty tricks which consist of half truths and total lies about Obama. A few of the previous Canadian commentators, disliking the socialist side of the Democratic party or perhaps even Obama, have spilt their hatred on these pages. They should stick to what little they know of their own politics.

  35. American idiots: How did the campaign for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination turn into such a joke?

    I’m trying to figure out which is more of a joke: The Republican race, or this blog post and its title.

  36. The reason for all these “unsuitable” Republican candidates, I would wager, is that honest, respectable and compassionate republicans would not want to lead today’s Republican Party in its current form.

    The Party has become the Party of the Greedy, Uninformed, Fanatics, Haters, Lemmings and, let’s face it, Stupid.


  37. No sensible serious candidate would willingly expose him/herself to all the scrutiny, since to be a serious candidate he or she would have embarassing baggage — this being the Republican Party — so the real ones are waiting. The real race will start with the primaries.

  38. The title on this article is crass.

    This is the kind of anti-Americanism you might see on the CBC in slightly more subtle form.

    Listening to the Republican debates I don’t think our politicians are any more clever than this bunch.

    These are not stupid people. They just don’t believe the socialist stuff you take for granted.

  39. Meh, on one hand they really are a pack of Buffons. On the other hand since the NYT, WaPo, Slate, LaTimes, NBC, etcetera…  behave like Democratic party house organs, their foibles are brutally exaggerated and augmented with insinuation.

    Do you think a self serving weasel like John Edwards, or an utter neophyte like Obama, would have gotten as far, if the American press had spent a one hundredth of the energy they exerted on Palin?
    They actively ignored the Edwards story, and were so intent on anointing Obama, they gave the full Republican treatment to the very competent Hillary Clintons campaign.

  40. You wrote:
    ‘In this cycle, it’s the respectable Republicans who are getting dismissed, while the fringe candidates rise. Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who had an impressive resumé and was taken seriously by the press, attracted no interest and was forced to drop out early.’

    Please, please do your homework on Mr Pawlenty before writing anymore thoughts like this. Mr Pawlenty was at best the biggest do nothing Governor MN has ever had. The worst? He was running from President 2 years into his first term. So he couldn’t do a THING for MN while he got ready for running for the Presidient.

    Actual Work: The guy balanced the books on one time money. Borrowed continuously from the future by forcing schools to take out loans to pay for operating budgets. Worst of all, he claims to be tough on taxes. At no other time did taxes increase more under any governor than Mr Pawlenty. He will claim property taxes are local and not state. It’s because he lowered monies to local governments that local governments were ‘forced’ to increase property taxes to pay for police and firefighter salaries. Nice eh?

    Google search on Minnesota property tax 2001 to 2009.

    So Macleans, please do your homework next time.

  41. Shame you didn’t actually make a case against Gingrich to justify your sloppy adjectives.  Were we supposed to read paragraphs about Cain, who could have been dismissed with a handful of lines, and confuse the two?

  42. Jamie Weinman cannot be taken as a serious journalist, can he? As the resident entertainment writer for Macleans, I can see how he could be swayed towards the reality of the “Hollywood left” and really is not qualified to speak about politics, especially to analyse the merits of anyone that is to the right of Marx, Lenin et al. It is becoming clearer by the day why I gave up my MacLeans subscription
    and Canadian citizenship some 30 years ago

  43. I worry that Bachman will run next time and say it’s her turn…..

  44. The Republican effort to find an electable candidate is a case of elephants trying to walk on water. The water won’t hold them and the elephant is not likely to float.

  45. Funny how Obama gets blamed for Republican policies that caused this mess

    • Funny how Obama blames everyone else for his current mess. If he’s not up to the job, he can step aside for someone who is, right?

      Oh, and Democrats were in Congress, including Obama, and were responsible for many of the policies that led to the crisis, and voted against measures meant to address some of the underlying issues.

      But here I thought Obama got elected to stop the blame game. Looks like we were all wrong about that. People of all political stripes are very disappointed with how he has turned out. Too bad.

  46. and wasnt layton protected from his chinese sex slave adventures.?.. there were many very simple questions that were never asked.. cbc did less than minimal coverage of this. 

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