Democratic and Republican 2008 presidential contenders don't have vastly different levels of experience and some (not including me) would say they don't have vastly different levels of competence. What is far more striking, though, besides policy disparities, is the creep differential. Every single one of the leading GOP candidates has shown some really, really weird side of himself that borders on the pathological, while Democrats, perhaps equally strangely, have stayed well within the boundaries of good taste.
Rudy Giuliani easily wins a Lifetime Creep award for his conduct in and out of office as mayor of New York, but in this campaign he had been remarkably controlled. Until recently. The phone call from Judi interrupting his NRA speech and the syrupy, poorly acted dialogue that ensued are a brutal reminder that there is one thing more unappealing than an angry, vindictive Giuliani, and that is a sweet, playful one. I'm glad to say I don't think most Republican primary voters went "aaaaww" when he hung up the phone (and what IS with that loud, awful standard Nokia ringtone circa 1999? I don't expect him to have a Rihanna digital download playing when Judi calls, but still...).
I'm equally glad to see that people everywhere are also becoming acquainted with the egomaniacal Giuliani so well known to discerning New Yorkers, thanks to his recent announcement, in London no less, that he was "one of the four or five best known Americans" IN THE WORLD. While not exactly a campaign kiss of death, it is a little more revealing of Giuliani's sinister delusion than a handler would hope for. And what to say of the $9.11 fundraiser?
Fred Thompson's marriage to a woman 25 years younger than him and invariably described as "hot" by heterosexual male commentators could in itself cause some discomfort. But what's really creepy is Thompson's reliance on his three-year old as a prop, not in the usual campaign family portraits (still a little strange to my European eyes, but clearly inevitable). No, "grandfatherly" Thompson and "permanently [tanned] and bleach blond" wife Jeri (descriptions courtesy of The New York Times) have repeatedly thrown their little girl onstage near the end of Thompson's speeches, giving him the opportunity to coo at her each time "Bless your heart, I'll be done in a second." How dreadful is that?
McCain singing "bomb-bomb-bomb bomb-bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" deserves a creep prize in and of itself, even without his disturbing laugh vaguely reminiscent of Beavis and Butthead (sorry, there does not exist a more aptly contemporary comparison).
And Romney...Is there one single thing about him that is not creepy? With so much focus on his Mormonism (probably his least strange trait, at least to my religiously unsophisticated eyes), how could people (even Republican people!) not see the obvious? He is the single weirdest presidential candidate in modern history. The hair, the "smile," the eyes, the five sons, the dog tied to the roof of the car, the u-turn on every single position he's ever taken, his love for Battlefield Earth, all of it!
As for the Democrats, sure, Hillary Clinton's cackle is from another world, Barack Obama's smoking is unusual and John Edwards' futuristic mullet is queer (in every sense), but all three are somewhat likeable in their own way. More importantly, though, especially for those close to them, they don't look and act as if they could commit some unspeakable perversion or go on a horrendous rampage at any given moment, which is more than one can say of their leading Republican counterparts.