Rick Santorum suspended his campaign Monday, prompting college and condom enthusiasts everywhere to dance in the streets. And because I firmly believe that Newt Gingrich, like Tinkerbell, will vanish the moment we cease to acknowledge his existence, it is now safe to say that the grueling, violent, and thoroughly entertaining GOP primary has effectively drawn to a close. It was therefore only a matter of time before some nerd, someplace, somewhere, penned a valedictory piece comparing the intraparty war to the power-struggles of HBO's surging series Game of Thrones (which kicked off its second season last week). And, friends, I've run out of reasons why that nerd should not be me.
It wasn't just the shocking barbarity on the campaign trail that validates the comparison, with candidates' armies going medieval on one another from Nashua to Puerto Rico , but also the surreal fantasy of choice moments: Herman Cain quoting Pokemon in a speech, Rick Perry freezing in a debate like a first grader in the Christmas play, Donald Trump leading the polls in actual real life... none of it was any less bizarre than glimpsing dragons, white walkers, or the resurrection of Sean Bean's Lord of the Rings character on cable.
And so it came to pass that now, when I watch the sprawling epic on Sunday nights, I see the intrigue, the back-stabbing, and the grizzly horror of a good old right-wing food fight.
I give you the Republican cast of Game of Thrones. You're welcome, nerds.
Mitt Romney, son of George: Jaime Lannister, son of Tywin. He's rich. He's handsome. He must be a Lannister. A son of fortune, he walks the land clad in (financial) armor, pitilessly targeting his enemies with little regard for honor or righteousness. Jaime "Kingslayer" once famously stabbed a king in the back, and nobody should be fooled by Mitt's promises of loyalty; he's unpredictable, capable of turning on you at any moment if it's in his self-interest. Yet, just as the incestuous Jamie scorns "relations" outside his pure bloodline, Romney's tragic flaw may be an inability to interact with those different from him. Take caution, Mittens. A Lannister always pays his debts.
Jaime-Mitt looks to destroy a competitor with nothing but handsomeness.
Rick Santorum: Tyrion the Imp. Nobody saw this dude coming. He began the season a joke -- the dwarf of the litter, the only thing people thought of when they heard the word "santorum" was its Google definition (don't look); and just like that, he shocks the Seven Kingdoms by somehow becoming a force to be reckoned with, climbing and climbing until he can almost taste the seat of power. Alas, the primary distinction between the two heroes: Tyrion wields knowledge and craves sex. Santorum... hates college.
Nobody believed in him... except anyone who had read the books.
Newt Gingrich: Viserys Targaryen. (I know, I know. I said I wouldn't mention the Dark Lord, but this one isn't close.) With a self-image so inflated he may well float off the face of the earth to rule his moon colony, Newt resembles the self-entitled, petulant whiner of House Targaryen. Having been exiled from power years earlier, Viserys wanders the desert trying to gin up an army of barbarian hordes powerful enough to ride back to the throne. He screams and yells with farcically quixotic declarations that he is the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, even though not one living soul is interested in following him to take a leak. His solution: a powerful sugardaddy in the wilderness named Khal Drogo (read: Sheldon Adelson). His downfall: orchestrating one too many marriages. Will Newt one day have steaming hot, melted gold poured onto his noggin by an enormous Dothraki horse lord? Only time will tell. Until then, look for him to continue insisting that He. Is. The dragon! Or, at the very least, that he is "a world-historical figure."
Viserys-Newt demands the glory that is owed him... and it doesn't end well.
Jon Hunstman: Eddard Stark. A little too honorable for his own good, Hunstman was never willing to get his hands dirty, and it cost him from the start. Running a campaign themed on civility and integrity just wasn't gonna cut it in this crowd. Fight fire with fire, dude. Nice guys finish last... and sometimes with their heads cut off. R.I.P.
Tim Pawlenty: Nameless Night's Watchmen Who Gets Killed in First Scene of First Episode. Honestly, that's how long the guy lasted.
Tim Pawlenty goes down in the first 2 minutes of the show:
Ron Paul: Aemon, Lord of the Citadel. Blind, ancient, raving lunatic who speaks the truth when it matters, but is still vaguely terrifying? Check.
Ron-Aemon, the last bastion of senile righteousness
Michele Bachmann: Lady Lysa Arryn of the Vale. The sister of Cat Stark, Lady Lysa is "a bit touched," in the words of Tyrion the dwarf. That's an understatement. We arrive at her castle during Season 1 to discover the batsh*t crazy woman nursing a kid that can't possibly be any younger than seven or eight. Sick, twisted, and somehow compelling, she doesn't appear to have 75 foster children, but is definitely obsessed with her family, preserving freedom from the yoke of tyrannical oppression, and Ronald Reagan. Tea Party Rally in the Vale!
Nuts, angry, and over-matched... sounds like someone we know from Minnesota.
Rick Perry and Herman Cain need their own HBO shows. Thanks be to the gods of old when that happens.