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The Republican Yellow Brick Road
Amer Zahr
Amer Zahr
Monday, November 14, 2011 - 9:58 pm (4 Comments)

Barack Obama must be wondering how, in the midst of a recession, high unemployment, and little hope, he got so damn lucky.  The Republican party is parading out a band of brainless, heartless, and gutless candidates to be the next leader of the free world.  Watching their debates reminds me of my childhood, when my third-grade teacher showed us the 1939 classic “Wizard of Oz.”  I remember learning about the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man.  Of course, in the movie, these characters had some redeeming qualities.  In the Republican Party of 2012, the candidates seem to have none.

First, we have Rick “The Scarecrow” Perry.  It seems quite clear he was made without a brain of any sort.  He fumbles his words, has memory lapses, and is clearly not fit for any sort of serious discussion.  There are stark differences, of course, between the governor of Texas and the Scarecrow himself.  In the movie, the Scarecrow is able to dance beautifully.  Rick Perry, however, is unable to dance around any questions, bumbling his answers and sometimes giving us information we didn’t even ask for.  When asked a question about how he would fix the federal deficit with his tax and spending plan, Perry, as if he didn’t even hear the question, said, “… It is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see… Okay. Commerce, Education, and the…”  Rick Perry went to Texas A&M University, where he got a C in US History, a D in Economics, and a C in Gym.  Gym! Maybe he should rethink about cutting education.

Next, we have Herman “The Tin Man” Cain.  Like his movie counterpart, Cain clearly has no heart.  As if his 9-9-9 plan wasn’t heartless enough (his plan will only serve to overtax middle-class income families and seniors), the sexual harassment allegations against him have borne his true cruelty.  He has said, “It’s not just men who potentially sexually harass women, I’ve also seen situations where women have sexually harassed or attempted to sexually harass men. It’s very serious.”  Huh?  A heartless, dumb comment indeed.  Herman Cain must know there is a major difference.  I’ve been sexually harassed.  I loved it.  I don’t think women feel the same way.  His whole routine of “I’ve met thousands of women in my life and almost all of them are not accusing me of sexual harassment” is as unfeeling as it gets.  In the heartless mind of Herman Cain, 4 accusers out of a 1000 women is a pretty good statistic.  In the movie, the Tin Man turns out to be kind and sympathetic.  Herman Cain, on the other hand, is an asshole.

Finally, we encounter Mitt “The Lion” Romney.  As we all know, the Lion didn’t have any courage.  Mitt just can’t seem to put his foot down on any issue.  He was for gay marriage, then against it.  For universal health care, then against it.  For environmental controls, then against them.  And he still says, “I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy.”  OK.  Mitt Romney, by all accounts, seems to be pretty intelligent, and he hasn’t sexually harassed anyone.  I guess nowadays that can clinch you the top spot in the Republican field.   In the movie, the Lion saves Dorothy from impending danger right before they enter the Emerald City.  Romney, it seems, is not going to save us from anything on his quest to Washington.  His cowardice, in the face of real issues, may sink us all.

We have some other cast members too.  Michelle Bachman is the Wicked Witch of the Midwest.  I don’t know if she’ll melt under water, but she definitely melts under pressure.  And of course, we can’t have a Republican debate without the packed audience of flying monkeys, applauding for executions, corporate greed, and as we saw this last weekend, indiscriminately bombing Iran.  Like in the movie, these flying monkeys are just intelligent enough to obey commands, and just dumb enough not to ask any questions while doing it.

The Republican Party has a knack of appealing to the lowest common denominator.  From putting gay marriage on a ballot to get their voters out to parading executions for applause, Republican leaders have banked on fascinating voters with fear, revenge, and war… or as they might call them, “values.”

Ultimately, as an American voter, I’m not too worried Rick Perry’s memory lapses, Herman Cain’s morality lapses, or Mitt Romney’s nerve lapses.  I care much more about their intellectual lapses.  Their inability to talk about issues in an intelligent, thoughtful manner scares me beyond belief.  I now know how Dorothy must have felt being whisked away to a foreign, unknown land.  I can only hope that the land of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates is as imaginary as Oz was.  I want to come back to the America of insightful and deep discussion.  Sadly, it all seems so far away.  For now, I’ll just keep clicking my heels.

* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."

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