iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
John O'Toole

GET UPDATES FROM John O'Toole
 

Plenty of Nothing

Posted: 04/ 2/2012 10:53 am

Most of us have a personal hero, an Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Edison. Mine is Larry David. The co-creator of "Seinfeld" is not the most lovable or charming of our comic minds, but he came up with a concept that changed my worldview.

During an early episode of the series, a network executive asked what their proposed show would be about. The resounding answer was "Nothing! It's about nothing!"

To bring the point home, Larry David and his colleagues went on to produce a successful series about nothing that ran for nine years. And prepared us for the 2012 presidential election.

But this year, instead of four crazy, funny people in a Manhattan coffee shop, we've got a dozen Republican flunk-outs from clown school arguing about who said what -- and who didn't -- and when they said it -- and who is the more conservative. (They all should have studied anger management.)

This gang has two things in common. One: Most of them were "formers." Santorum was a former Senator. After one term in the U.S. Senate, Pennsylvania gave him the boot by an embarrassingly large margin. Newt Gingrich was briefly a GOP star in the House during the 1990s but his colleagues stripped him of the Speakership and he was soon gone from politics. But Gingrich still made a good living gas-bagging for right-wing audiences who often mistake pomposity for intellect.

Mitt Romney served one term as Governor of Massachusetts. He was also a former CEO for a "take-over" company, which took a lot of companies under while Mitt's bosses took a nice profit and moved on.

In short, most of these guys are looking for a good paying job with perks. One of the perks at the end of their service is a several million dollar advance for writing a big, fat pointless book. What other job can give you that? So these "formers" run for president. Notice "run." Scramble or crawl would be more accurate. Why should any of us care?

How much harm can a president do in four years? Even eight? I have a one-word answer: Dubya. In eight years, he turned an impressive federal surplus into a huge deficit (which he left on our doorstep).

A president like Bush was also able to weaken regulations, allowing speculators and scoundrels to run wild, getting obscenely rich, sending our jobs overseas, and "off-shoring" their profits. With a weak and willing president, every day is Christmas Day for the greedy.

Another presidential perk is the chance to make lifetime Supreme Court appointments. This is the gift that keeps on giving -- or taking. As you read this, the Roberts/Scalia court is considering how to gut Obama's Affordable Health Care Act. You can also bet that women's reproductive rights are on this court's horizon. If you care about preserving those rights, better send Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg a stay well card.

Then there's the small matter of the rest of the world, which some people call foreign policy. The Republicans don't have one, other than military action anywhere they can find it. Worse yet, they don't usually bother paying for them. Already, Senator John "Boots On The Ground" McCain is talking about Syria! If the Republicans win in 2012, who's going to stop these Happy Hawks? President Romney?

For Democrats and Independents, this GOP nomination sideshow is almost over. Now comes the hard part: working hard to make sure our National Anthem doesn't become "Send In The Clowns."