With the Republican presidential nomination a wrap, we the public have lost.
And not because Mitt Romney is the nominee, but because we’ll now be without one of the most dependable sources of entertainment we’ve had for the last several months.
Watching Rick Santorum and now Newt Gingrich suspending their campaigns has been like watching a favorite sitcom come to a premature close. If only they could have held out a while longer; think of all the laughs we could have had.
In retrospect, the 2008 primaries were a bit drab, with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battling it out for the Democrats, and Romney and Mike Huckabee dutifully challenging John McCain.
This time around though, the Republicans carted out a veritable vaudeville show to duke it out in an unbroken succession of hijinks.
As one would expect, the best of the candidates were the first to go.
Herman Cain was the breakout character of the show, a sort of Cosmo Kramer of Republican politics.
His campaign was at least mildly amusing before he even had a chance to make a fool of himself. The very idea of his being the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza tickles the funny bone, and surely surprised a few by the realization that the company still exists.
Then of course there were his amusing missteps, which, brought together, are like the political gaffes equivalent of the Eagles’ Greatest Hits.
Seriously, who would have thought we’d see anything like a presidential candidate quoting Pokemon in any situation outside some kind of dystopian political satire?
And if the archness of that moment wasn’t to your taste, he did all styles of comedy.
There was the “Office”-esque cringe humor of his cluelessness about Libya, the slapstick of his Uz becky becky becky stan quote, and even the dark humor of his bumbling reaction to sex abuse allegations.
He even came with a sitcom-worthy catchphrase, “9-9-9.”
He really was a comic genius.
Next in line would have to be the debatable one-hit wonder Rick Perry, whose comedic reputation rests largely on his infamous three agencies moment. Never has watching a candidate’s political ambitions go up in a single Hindenburg-like blaze on live television been so hilarious.
But, as with any artist famous for one song, there are a few hidden gems not so well-known by the public.
The best would have to be his apparently drunken New Hampshire stump speech, filled with “Did he just say that?” moments.
As the field dwindled down we were left with the B-Team candidates, a political equivalent of the early ‘80s Saturday Night Live lineup.
Santorum was more repellant than funny, though his explosive, “bulls***” dropping response to a New York Times reporter’s weasely question was at least eyebrow-raising in a sort of confrontational, Bill Hicks kind of way.
Gingrich was, well, Gingrich. His jaw-dropping arrogance was at least amusing insofar as we all knew he never stood a chance. Watching his failure was warmly entertaining more than it was funny.
Then there was — wait, still is — Ron Paul. Aside from a vague resemblance to Stan Laurel, Paul has never been much of a funnyman, though seeing him up on the stage during the debates was a nice “Which of these things is not like the others?” gag.
Which leaves us with Romney, and our prospects for entertainment during the next six months as the general election goes into full swing.
Romney is, in more than one way, the Republican John Kerry. He’s wooden, politically inconsistent, seemingly incapable of relating to those under the six-figures-a-year crowd and from Massachusetts. He even looks kind of like Kerry, at least in that his face is as suited to his vocation as so many used car salesmen’s are.
Moments like the dog-on-a-car-roof episode are welcome bits of relief, but they come off as artificially inflated media frenzies.
And with him going up against No Drama Obama, it looks like it’s going to be a yawn-fest of an election.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed Donald Trump was just waiting for 2016.