Requiem for a Loser

The Dying Gasps of the GOP’s Also-Rans

For those of you who don’t hate yourselves and thus have not been closely following the Republican primaries, it’s that magical time of the election cycle—the time when the most obvious losers start hanging up their hats. A time, in other words, for some candidates to display their strangest and most entertaining behavior, and for others to display their saddest.

Embattled former Texas governor Rick Perry was the first to fall, and is so far the only one to officially capitulate. The Lone Star state’s bespectacled darling, though an early pundit favorite, showed so abysmally in the polls that he effectively ran out of money completely—leaving his chagrined staff to work for free for the last six weeks. So it’s probably good for his campaign staff, at least, that Perry is finally heading back home to deal with those pesky corruption charges. He announced his surrender, of course, on September 11th. Never Forget, America.

Jim Gilmore may as well have dropped out. Polling at less than one percent, he was excluded from even the recent kids’-table debate, and in a defiant yet ultimately depressing move, live-tweeted responses to the four remaining baby candidates who continue to valiantly pretend they will one day be able to sit in the Oval Office without an accompanying tour guide. The best thing I can say for Jim Gilmore right now is that he is not Mark Everson. Every time I went to write this paragraph I forgot Jim Gilmore’s name. Sorry, Jim Gilmore.

Bobby Jindal is, well, doing Bobby Jindal shit. He sounds more and more like Owen Wilson and looks more and more like a man possessed with every day that passes. Yet, despite my well-documented disgust for Robert and his “non-hyphenated” ilk, he’s actually been tickling my funny bone a bit recently by completely losing his shit on Donald Trump. Jindal, or more likely an intern more clever with words than he is, has relentlessly gone after the blustering orange paintbrush currently leading the GOP polls, and in an almost ingenuously satirical way—by parodying Trump’s typical inarticulate Internet-troll line of attack, calling him a “small man” and “very weak.” Or maybe (probably) I’m giving him a bit too much credit. Regardless, Jindal is a mean little runt at heart, a wounded jackal lashing out as viciously as possible before it is unceremoniously put down by a 0% approval rating. He is, in other words, a good show.

As for Republican-that-I’d-be-most-likely-to-have-a-drink-with Lindsey Graham, he’s…actually doing all right for himself. Despite his pathetic failure at the first Lincoln Log Summit, Graham is in essence about as likable as it’s possible for a warmongering reactionary to be, and in the second dud debate, his relative wit and charm were on full display. Regardless, self-deprecation and a tragic backstory do not necessarily an American president make, and all Graham is doing is drawing out his inevitable twitching death at the hands of “anyone doing better than 1% in the polls.” I give him a month.

I keep forgetting that George Pataki is running for president, as do any possible pool of voters he might have. Pataki, like Graham, has positioned himself as a “voice of reason” among the impossibly-far-right kiddy-pool candidates. Which is like being the least bougie parent picking up your ten-year-old from a tennis camp in the Hamptons. Sure, Pataki ultimately believes in obeying the orders of the Supreme Court (unlike Santorum, who compared Kentucky clerk Kim Davis to Martin Luther King in what was ultimately the most craven, tone-deaf act of the night). But other than that stance, his signature look of “Dad’s photograph passed through What You’ll Look Like In Twenty Years app,” and the fact that he used to be the governor of New York, I bet no one reading this can name anything at all about George “not-gonna-be-President” Pataki.

Finally, and most likely to soldier on until July 18, 2016, we come to Rick Santorum. An odious fellow at the best of times, Santorum has recently forgotten that Hispanic Americans are, in fact, Americans; called for other nominees to ignore Trump and only “[personally attack] one person—Hillary Clinton“; and, like fellow clay-beast Bobby Jindal, lauded Kim Davis as a national hero, going so far as to compare her to a goddamn teenage Columbine victim. The lady went to jail for, like, two days because she hates gay people so much she would literally rather be imprisoned than grant them human rights. Fuck Rick Santorum, his rubbery face, and his Internet-gay-joke last name. He is a creature without honor or even rudimentary sentience, and hopefully his concession speech is the last we ever hear of his sniveling voice.

Of course, this leaves 11 scarecrows in the field to frighten Republicans into voting for them—from the rightist equivalent of the left’s sheepdogs, designed to drag the party line towards a certain direction, to the wolves, desperately fighting to maintain a centrist line. If we drop the pretense, there are only four realistic possibilities here: anthropomorphized YouTube comment Donald Trump, doctor-who-watched-CSPAN-one-time Ben Carson, perfect aesthetic gene-splice between Georges Senior & Junior Jeb Bush, and stone cold fucking liar Carly Fiorina.

Of course, dropping the pretense removes most of the fun! So in the interest of “fun,” I’ll mention that you should also remember these people exist: Chris Christie (a guy who one day woke up and said, “you know the movie stereotype of a government official who’s been bought out by the Mob? Yeah, I’ll do that for the rest of my life”), Scott Walker (an absolute drip in every imaginable way who rides a Harley so everyone can know how cool and hip he is, who also was so bad at governing his own state that they tried to throw him back out into whatever accursed suburb from whence he came), Marco Rubio (a generic Tea Party doofus who has the face and demeanor of a disobedient child but is apparently 44 years old), Ted Cruz (a squinty-eyed simper that gained consciousness through a terrible accident at the CIA’s former MKUltra facility), John Kasich (a reasonably coherent governor who fell through a wormhole into a dimension where he was cursed to unsuccessfully run against circus performers for eternity), Rand Paul (a man with twice as much non-Euclidean hair and half as much Bitcoin as his dad), and Mike Huckabee (Bad. Bad. Look at this. He is a BAD MAN).

So. Bring on the pallbearers. We’ve got a lot more funerals to make it to this year.

Art by Rilo Harris.

Johnny Islamabad

Johnny Islamabad

Johnny Islamabad is the main editor and cofounder of Empire of Loathing. In his non-Internet life, he is a starving literature professor and alcohol enthusiast. He most often writes about the bizarre farce that is American electoral politics, which is a refreshing break from the bizarre farce that is his daily life.

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