“I’m all lost in the supermarket/I can no longer shop happily/I came in here for that special offer/A guaranteed personality
– “Lost in the Supermarket”, The Clash from London Calling
In the marketplace of retail politics, all we’ve received in this early election season is “guaranteed personality,” lots of flopsweat—I’m looking at you Rubio and O’Malley—and dubious personality—need I even point fingers for the latter? If “Lost in the Supermarket” served as a sort of platonic love song from Joe Strummer to Mick Jones (Strummer wrote the lyrics, Jones arranged the music), the closest thing we got last night was Bernie Sanders’s cry in the night regarding Hillary’s modern correspondence: “The American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails.” Sure, it doesn’t sound like love, but I haven’t seen HRC smile like that since… Okay, I’ve never seen HRC smile like that. Still, their moment of unity was more authentic than that weird-ass, awkward high five exchange between Trump and Ben Carson, two men who learned how to high five by watching Good Times.
Last night’s “Clash of Boring” was all business: dull, policy-based, substantive talk, yet a barely visible set of giant Cheshire Cat choppers from Uncle Joe seemed ever present in the background, just waiting to make a borderline brilliant/insane statement. Instead, however, we got Jim “The Human Sausage” Webb, Lincoln “Cindy Lou Who” Chaffee, Martin “The Wire” O’Malley, Bernie “The Socialist” Sanders, and the HRC all basically making the same points; think Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift, or, if you prefer, William Shatner covering anybody. Clearly, Sanders and the HRC were the stars of this sadly rational little shit show, but would it kill you people to add a dollop of GOP crazy? Can we at least drop a little Uncle Joe into the mix?
Also, can anyone tell me why we begin debates with the national anthem? Is Obama going to throw out the first pitch? I think we can all agree someone should just hire Europe and have them play “The Final Countdown.”
First, let’s get Jim “Sausagefest” Webb out of the way. He’s the candidate your once rational, now crazy uncle supports because the Clintons are such asses. Of course, Webb survived the jungles of Vietnam but spent much of the night complaining about stop watches and time allotments. We get it man. Near the end of the debate, when asked their biggest fear Webb bragged about killing a man. He was like an unentertaining, unfunny Walter Sobchak but with weird-ass policy positions.
(At least Walter was sort of Jewish. What would be the equivalent for Webb’s creepy Scottish warrior fetish? 700 years of beautiful tradition from Braveheart to Gordon Brown? You’re goddamn right I’m living in the fucking past!)
Next up: Lincoln Chaffee. Honestly, I didn’t even know this guy was running and every time I hear his name I think Progressive muckraker. Let’s get some Shame of the Cities up in this bitch! Last night, though, it was more like, “Does Benjamin Button have a less attractive brother?” No, unfortunately he doesn’t.
He actually touted “labor peace” in Providence as one of his big selling points. People don’t know what “labor” even is anymore—you can be sure they don’t know what the hell “labor peace” means. The Linc bragged about being on the Select Middle East Subcommittee and also singlehandedly organizing the prom at Providence High.
But most of the time we couldn’t stop thinking of Dr. Seuss. He’s like the Mayor of Whoville. Chafee was so tiny and adorable I wanted to scoop him up and carry him around in my shirtpocket and go on adventures together.
This brings us to Martin “Sweat Log” O’Malley. Do O’Malley and Carson get their Xanax from the same doctor? I’m only asking for a friend. Half the time I felt like O’Malley kept looking at HRC and thinking “We would have made a pragmatically hot student government couple.” The other half, I spent wondering if he and Paul Ryan work out at the same gym. If they do, he probably looks at Ryan and thinks, “We would have made a smoking hot student government couple.”
O’Malley, of course, was David Simon’s template for “fictional” Baltimore Mayor Tommy “Little Finger” Carcetti. Wood doesn’t have as much woodenness as O’Malley. He really might to want to consider bringing in Carcetti to play him. Right now, he’s a homeless man’s Ben Carson—and knowing Carson’s political leanings, that’s a net negative. Still, he spent much of the night talking up Maryland’s bonafides; by the end of the evening I was thinking about moving to the mid-Atlantic for free this and free that and I wasn’t the only one:
We all know that Baltimore is the true and only fucking heaven, to borrow a phrase from the late Christopher Lasch. By the way, can you imagine what that cranky motherfucker would think of this shitshow? This year’s presidential contests make the Reagan-Bush and Carter-Ford debates of yesteryore look like Lincoln-Douglas on smart pills. They say that democracy is a marketplace of ideas—and while we don’t really know what that means, we’re pretty sure this is not it.
Now, the Bern. You’ve waited this long for the Bern and now you have him. Sometimes it seems the Bern is in a Brooklyn diner raising his finger to order “just one more Danish.” America thinks the same:
If it so happens that you’re deaf, Bernie comes from Brooklyn. But more importantly, he represents the state that has given us Phish and Ben & Jerry’s. I don’t know what hurts his electoral chances more—that he’s a socialist from the state that’s basically New England’s loopy spinster aunt, or that listening to him talk is like being lectured on economics by a really good pastrami Reuben.
You know what, fuck it. It can be two things.
HRC, meanwhile, is kind of a “lite” Albacore tuna sandwich with no mayo. It’s good for you, but you still just basically don’t like it. On the other hand, she did bring a tiny bit of spice to the game. Who the fuck knew that she and BHO were into “The Most Dangerous Game”—you know, man? She boasted about regularly traveling to Copenhagen with her bestie Barry to “hunt Chinese” and “bust up their meetings.”
Now I’ve been accused of being too literal-minded before, but is there some other meaning for “hunting the Chinese” that I’m not aware of? Also, HRC likes to talk about “the Arabs” in a tone not too different from the way my great granddad Lefty Lime used to talk about “the gays” and “the blacks.” (Don’t worry, Hillary. We’re just joshing. We know you love Arabs. Just don’t let Bibi know.)
By the way, Denmark get the fuck out of our debates. Are we dating? Because judging from last night you’re all we think about. The Bern tried to explain Danish democratic socialism to a nation that I’m pretty sure is still confused by the difference between Miracle Whip and mayo. Anderson Cooper tried to dismiss the significance of Denmark’s welfare state by pointing out that the nation has fewer people than North Carolina, but Bernie wasn’t having any of this “size matters” nonsense. He was all like, “You’ve tried the small, why not come back for the medium?” “It’s not the size of the welfare state, it’s the motion in the North Sea, baby!”
Indeed, the Democrats had better tread carefully on this issue. You don’t want to piss off the Danish American vote. You know the saying, hell hath no fury like a Dane scorned, except when it does, which is most of the time.
Meanwhile, Mike “I’m Not Actually a Reverend, But I Did Eat One Once” Huckabee was making jokes about North Koreans eating dogs. Wow. Clearly, he’s not worried about securing the North Korean American vote that’s so critical in the swing states. What’s next for the GOP? Rape jokes?
If they do, you can be sure Lincoln Chafee will condemn the outrageous remarks with his strongest jar of pixie dust. I can’t believe we have to sit through 5 more of these. Please. Joe. Put down the Natty Light, get in the Trans Am and respond to my texts.
You can find more of Clement’s political coverage and commentary here:
The Orange Menace and the Angry Snowman: A Cautionary Tale
Alinsky, ACORNs, Sex, and Death at the Quicken Arena
Every Country Deserves a Mulligan
Long Island Ice Tea: Immigration, Gender, and the 2012 Presidential Debate