Dancing with the GOP

PUBLISHED: November 10, 2011

If you've been sending money to Herman Cain to prop up his troubled campaign, please send some to Rick Perry so he stays in the race. Consider it a favor to all of us who are hopelessly hooked on "Dancing with the Real Candidates of the GOP," otherwise known as the 2012 Republican presidential debates.

No network programmer could have invented a TV series with such pop.

There have already been 10 (!) of these nationally televised spectacles - entertainment gifts that just keep on giving. No wonder Republicans tell pollsters they like Herman Cain: they don't want him voted off the show. Viewers want Cain and Bachmann and the others to hang in there, just as they kept voting for Nancy Grace on "Dancing with the Stars" even though she's as awkward on the dance floor as Rick Perry is at the podium.

And there are at least 13 (!) more installments of this great show scheduled, with the next one this Saturday night (!) so we can get to know these people like the real housewives of Beverly Hills.

Don't you just plotz when Newt Gingrich tells the moderators how stupid they are? In the latest episode, on CNBC, Gingrich told Maria Bartiromo, "I love humor disguised as a question." Way back in Episode 3, Gingrich scolded Chris Wallace of Fox for asking "gotcha questions" that are "Mickey Mouse."

The GOP should get a toy duck like on Groucho Marx's old show that drops down whenever someone says the secret word. Will Bachmann say "Obamacare" before Cain manages to say "9-9-9"? Will Perry use the term "wrecking ball" before Gingrich mentions Ronald Reagan?

Just watching them is captivating. Ron Paul's suit jacket always looks like it's still got the hanger sticking out the back. Michelle Bachmann runs off stage during commercials to fix her makeup. Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum now get stuck at the far ends and keep making faces because they're so rarely asked to speak.

Rick Perry has become the show's Jethro Clampett. He said in the CNBC debate that he'd eliminate three federal agencies, and then could only name two. Ron Paul tried to help him; the moderator offered more time, but Perry just laughed awkwardly and said, "Oops." OK, fine, Perry can't dance, but he's great for the show!

Herman Cain, never at a loss for words, wowed the audience in the CNBC debate by referring to House Democratic Leader Pelosi as "Princess Nancy." This, from a guy who's been accused by at least four women of sexual harassment.

What I love about the GOP gang is that no matter what the question, they know a good answer is: "I will never apologize for the United States of America!" That line is always followed by wild applause.

Speaking of applause, where in Hollywood do they find the audiences for these debates? They boo gay soldiers and cheer executions - just like on Jerry Springer's program. On CNBC they even booed Bartiromo when she dared ask Cain about the harassment thing. After that, co-moderator John Harwood got even louder boos by asking Romney if, as a CEO, he'd fire Herman Cain - a foolish question that Romney wisely ducked.

My favorite debate so far was the one in Las Vegas when CNN's Anderson Cooper had each performer walk down a long ramp at the Sands Hotel as if they were contestants in the Miss America pageant. Cooper even told the audience to stand for the national anthem by "Tony award-winner Anthony Crivello, starring as the Phantom in 'Phantom Las Vegas,' the Las Vegas spectacular!"

Naturally, after each of these shows there's the post-debate coverage in which all the candidates get to hug their spouses - except Cain, whose wife never attends - and then repeat everything they said a few minutes earlier. They should really get Andy Cohen to host these segments the way he does on Bravo with the real housewives, but Cohen's gay so the Republican audience would likely drown him out with boos.

If Gallup happens to phone your house, insist that you're voting for all eight candidates. If Nielsen calls, say you watch every debate with several dozen friends between the ages of 18 and 49, with high disposable incomes.

Keep supporting this great series, and never apologize for America!

(c) Peter Funt. This column was originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.

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