It’s election time again, and the only thing more unstable than Mike Gravel is the Republican field. It’s a field chock full of politicians distinguished by knotty personal lives, skillful fear-mongering, positions that change on a dime and the ability to say “Ronald Reagan” three times a second. Although candidates traditionally toss red meat to the base during primary season, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson have kicked it up a notch and given Americans cause for worry. The election of any of these Republicans would promise, at best, Bush-ness as usual for the next four years.

Despite his record as a cross-dressing, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani wants you to know that he’s really a staunch conservative. He misses no opportunity to assert that he cut taxes 23 times as mayor of New York and exploit his reputation for leadership on 9/11 by reminding voters that he’s for torturing terrorists, terror suspects, anybody who looks like a terrorist, and the guy who looked at him funny on the street. Giuliani has apparently detained truth indefinitely as well. He is so shameless in his desire for the presidency that he has thrown his moderate credentials out the window in favor of ultra-conservative bluster. While his dramatic ideological change might not bother some conservative voters, Rudy will have more trouble covering up the fact that he married a woman he thought was his third cousin and was then stunned to discover that she was, in fact, his second cousin. He then proceeded to cheat on his second wife and move his girlfriend and future third wife into his house before his second wife moved out. As a result, Rudy’s children don’t speak to him and his daughter supports Barack Obama. Party of family values, indeed.

Mitt Romney is this year’s John Kerry: wooden, out of touch, flip-flopping and utterly incapable of winning. No amount of self-funding and no number of campaign trips to IHOP can erase the image of his ever-present starched white shirt, meticulous hair and tie; Romney’s wardrobe is as rigid as the candidate himself. His positions on abortion and gay rights is a little more flexible; he apparently had a religious experience brought on by his decision to seek the Republican presidential nomination that radically changed his views on those subjects.

John McCain, a politician formerly respected by many as a straight-talking moderate, has replaced the Straight Talk Express with the No Surrender Tour. Hitching his campaign to a failed war means McCain has lost some of the regard that much of the country had for him, and he has become little more than an aging figurehead for the “stay the course” argument. McCain is showing us his true colors as he falls in the polls. Although his new strategy no longer has him cozying up to the likes of Jerry Falwell in a craven bid for evangelical support, in politics, there is no substitute for victory.

The almost candidacy of Fred Thompson, along with Brit’s summer meltdown, was the talk of the mainstream media for months. Conservatives finally felt that a real, drawling, down-home, Reaganesque politician was about to throw his hat into the ring. Thompson was in no rush to get into the race, however, and his lazy summer flirtation with a run diminished voters’ interest significantly. Moreover, Thompson, who um’ed and uh’ed his way through his first Republican debate, has recently discovered that running for president is a little harder than acting. He apparently viewed the Senate as a bit of a bore, and certainly can’t hope to solve America’s problems with a well placed “Nail that sumbitch, Jack.” Now that it turns out that running for President requires, say, actual knowledge of the issues and a willingness to make a campaign stop every now and again, Thompson may be rethinking his decision to enter the race and wondering if, perhaps, it’s better just to play the president on TV.

Aside from the basic foolishness and hypocrisy these politicians have demonstrated, the issues on which they choose to focus and the solutions they propose should urge Americans to look elsewhere. On a basic level, the Republican candidates are simply behind the curve when it comes to the issues Americans care most about. Most still stand by American involvement in Iraq and can offer very little coherent justification besides asserting that we must win. They refuse to consider diplomacy as a viable alternative in American foreign policy. They refuse to acknowledge that the market is to blame for the healthcare crisis, and offer no clear plan to cover the 47 million uninsured Americans. They propose no solution for the growing deficit other than vague claims about “fiscal discipline” and refuse to repeal Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. With the country a wreck after eight years of George W. Bush and the Straight Talk Express broken down on the side of the road, Americans might stand a better chance riding a donkey as far as it can take us.

Chris Cimaglio and Ryan Guptill are sophomores in the College and members of the Georgetown University College Democrats.

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