Monday, June 20, 2011

Grouping the Republican Candidates ala a Shakespeare– With Huntsman, Perry and Palin Auditioning for Roles.

Surprising Listing for Michelle Bachmann

Now that the first Republican debate is past and with the expectation that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman will announce soon The Dismal Political Economist can place the candidates into the various categories that evolve during a Presidential campaign.  A good political campaign is good drama, and the best dramatist of all time was William Shakespeare.  So it is appropriate to analyze the current Republican field in terms of a Shakespearian play.

Group 3 – The Soldiers:   In most of the Shakespeare canon, each play begins with bit players advancing to the stage and making a short speech, usually setting up some as the plot aspects of the play.  In many of the plays, these are soldiers or retainers.  They have their moment of fame (they are speaking lines in a Shakespearian play after all) then retire usually never to be on stage again.

Presidential campaigns have these types of players.  They enter the stage early in the process, speak a few memorable lines and then go away.  In the current Republican race, these roles belongs to Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Ron Paul.  Once the campaign (play?) starts in earnest with caucuses and primaries, watch them fade from the stage.  One can easily envision Mr. Santorum, for example, moving to the front of the debate stage and declaiming.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of George Romney

Well, maybe not.

Group 2 – The Secondary Players:    In this group are Shakespearian characters who play an important role in furthering the plot, but are largely superfluous to the core of the play.  They are often fools in serious clothing, everyone in the play and audience recognizes them as having character deficiencies that prevent them from advancing to serious roles.  Sometimes they serve as comic relief.

In this campaign Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty occupy these roles.  Gingrich in particular has filled the role of Polonius, the doddering old man who is highly impressed with himself, who utters what seems like serious advice but in reality is speaking inanities.  Like Polonius he can be entertaining, and like Polonius he is likely to be put out of the campaign by a lead player.

 Pawlenty has condemned himself to this Group, starting out as a serious two term Governor of a moderate state and morphing into a parody of a candidate.  Gingrich is permanently typecast; Pawlenty can still advance to a better role.

Group 1 – The Lead Actors:    In this category are the characters around whom the play revolves.  This is Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, Caesar, and the rest. In this category are obviously Mitt Romney and surprisingly Michelle Bachmann.  Romney’s case is well known, and does not have to be made again.  Ms. Bachmann is the surprise, but moves into the group on the basis of

  1. Her debate performance where she came across as a credible candidate

  1. The fact that her extreme positions are not generally known.

  1. The need for a candidate who will combine the social conservatives with the fiscal conservatives (tea party) to be the anti-Romney

  1. The fact that she is not Sarah Palin.

Ms. Bachmann started out in Group 3 and jumped into Group 1.  She has the potential to drop back into Group 2 or Group 3, as soon as the focus starts on her policy, lack of extensive government experience and the fact that she is not Sarah Palin becomes less important if Palin, as expected, is not a candidate.

There are three players still auditioning for roles.  Jon Huntsman is certain to get a part, but which Group he will be in is not yet determined.  The press considers him a serious candidate and wants to put him in Group 1. The voters currently rank him at about 1-3% in the polls.  If he does not move up quickly in the polls he needs to get his spear out of the prop department and join the Soldiers on stage, for a short time only.

Sarah Palin has not decided if she wants to try out for the play yet.  Her skills are not that great, and as her main rival, Ms Bachmann becomes more credible her opportunity fades.  She is more likely to be in the critic’s role, sitting in the audience and then writing scathing reviews.

The most Hamlet like character is the currently undecided candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry.  If he enters he will likely take over Ms. Bachmann’s role, relegating her back to Group 3 where she started.  He will be a much more formidable challenger to Mr. Romney.  He is, at this point, Mr. Romney’s biggest nightmare. 

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