[guest post by JVW]
Since the silly season more-or-less officially launches tonight (forget all of those town halls and such; it’s the debates that kick off the election), it’s time to look back on a comment that the great humorist P.J. O’Rourke made over 20 years ago, back in the horrid days when Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich bestrode the narrow earth like colossi. Mr. O’Rourke (the funny one, not the one pretending to be Mexican) advised that when evaluating politicians, it makes a lot of sense to try to place them in the context of the people with whom you attended high school. With that in mind, let me make the following comparisons with respect to the candidates we will see on stage tonight (well, some of us that is; I’m going to watch the Vanderbilt-Michigan College World Series final). Going alphabetically, we have:
Cory Booker – The guy who was thought to be popular but secretly nobody really liked all that much. All-conference football player, delegate at-large in the school senate, and member of the National Honor Society, but never once in his four years attended any social event. Claimed to volunteer for the local soup kitchen, but no one who worked there seemed to know who he was.
Juan Julian Castro – The twin who was slightly better looking, slightly smarter, slightly more charismatic than his identical brother, but still kind of a dweeb. It was rumored his community activist mom would browbeat the school’s teachers and administrators and accuse them of racism if her sons got anything less than an “A” on their report cards. [Edit: Such a nonentity that I put down the wrong Castro brother initially.]
Bill de Blasio – One of those blowhards who would tell you how smart he was while avoiding taking any difficult courses because they supposedly didn’t fit into his schedule, even though he found time to register for study hall and work as an office aide every semester. A tall, strapping guy who worked out daily but for some reason didn’t bother to try out for any varsity teams, mumbling some nonsense about how the competitive nature takes all the fun out of sports.
John Delaney – You knew he was a lineman on the football team and spent a lot of time in the weight room, but you never had a class with him and don’t recall ever seeing him outside of the football field. Honestly, when you were assigned a seat next to his at graduation it was the first time you had ever given him any real thought.
Tulsi Gabbard – That cute chick whom you had a slight crush on but didn’t pursue because you thought she was a New Age dippy surfer girl, then were really surprised to discover she was in JROTC. When you see her at the ten-year (and twenty-year, thirty-year, etc.) reunion, you are filled with immense regret.
Jay Inslee – Secretary of the Key Club his sophomore year, then after that the first person in school history to serve as Key Club president for two consecutive years. But that was literally the only extracurricular activity he participated in. Still, his friends will swear to you he was the best president Key Club ever had.
Amy Klobuchar – Volunteer hall monitor who wanted you to think that she would let you sneak a smoke on the patio in between classes, but would in fact secretly report you to the vice-principal. She’s the mean girl who quietly told all of the senior boys which ones of her female friends were sexually active. Signed up to be a candy-striper at the hospital, but never showed up to work.
Robert O’Rourke – Punk rock fan who got away with periodically being a stoner because his dad was on the school board so he knew he wouldn’t face any real disciplinary issues. Secretly did all his homework while maintaining an aura of detached cool. The freshmen and sophomore girls were madly in love with him, but he ended up aggravating the ones he dated and they would break up with him within a couple of weeks.
Tim Ryan – The guy who had a mad crush on the head cheerleader but couldn’t get anywhere past the friend zone with her. Not a great student, not a great athlete, not a social animal, just a normal everyday unexceptional guy. Inscribed in your yearbook, “Let’s hang out over the summer,” but you had zero interest.
Elizabeth Warren – The teachers loved her because she always had her homework done on time (it was rumored that she paid college students to do it) and neatly written on fresh notebook sheets, and she would turn in her English papers (which were later found to be largely plagiarized from The New Republic) double-space typed on heavy-stock paper and tucked in a clear plastic folder. Won a scholarship from the Elks Club after telling them during her interview about the ongoing anguish she carried owing to her father having been killed in Vietnam, which became a small scandal when it was discovered years later that he had simply run off with his secretary.
So, that’s how I see them. I frankly had to look up John Delaney and Tim Ryan, but I hopefully pegged them at least somewhat correctly. Please feel free to add your own analyses of the candidates in the comments, and enjoy watching the debate if you are so inclined. Check back tomorrow for part 2 of the debate participants.