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Send in the clowns

With apologies to Stephen Sondheim: Send in the clowns. There ought to be clowns … but wait, they’re already here.

How many Republican candidates can one get into one of those miniature cars in the center ring of the presidential circus now playing an extended gig in various locations throughout the country? There are already some 14 or is it 15 who want to be the GOP’s nominee for the job no one in his right mind would want in the first place.

Among the latest, of course, are the comb-over champion of the western world, Donald Trump and the specialist in traffic jams, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. But then you all know that unless you’re comatose, which is entirely possible given the stultifying bombardment of announcement and pronouncements presented day and night by the 24-hour media. And the finale won’t take place for another year and a half.

What the late Will Rogers could do with this material is almost unimaginable. He once introduced Franklin Roosevelt, then an aspiring occupant of the White House, by not doing so, saying only that he wasn’t going to waste any time on a mere candidate. Well there are enough “mere candidates” in this free for all to exhaust even him.

The sad thing is that each new entrant gets a fresh round of speculation from the national media and takes his place in the percentage game. You know, Trump is now in second or third place in the polls after having broadly accused the largest ethnic voting bloc in the nation of being unfit for citizenship. The immigrants crossing our southern borders are, he contends, drug dealers and rapists and who knows what else.

You tell them, Donald; that is the all white bread audiences in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, which play so large in the nominating process but are hardly representative of the national electorate.

By the way, you said nothing about the Spanish-speaking laborers and skilled workers who do the jobs that keep our real estate humming from houses to commercial building projects, probably some of yours.

There is no doubt given the circumstances that Trump has courage. It certainly takes that to fly in the face of a party in dire need of receiving a healthy slice of the Hispanic vote to succeed. NBC and Univision and a growing list of others — an estimated $50 million worth — have severed ties with Trump for slandering a relatively sizable number of their customers. But that’s chump change for a billionaire.

After I had written nasty things about a state and its characteristics, my editor Bob Chase had said, “listen, kid, it’s one thing to take on an individual, but quite another to ascribe morally questionable activities to everybody from there.”

But don’t worry, there is little chance that the Donald and his monumental ego make it very far in the preliminary rounds of history’s longest presidential campaign. His is an ego trip.

The same can be said for most of the wannabes including Christie, who might have had a shot had he been able to control his appetite for silly competitive beat-downs, not to mention food. Does anyone really want a president who can’t control his gastronomic impulses even after he underwent some kind of internal readjustment? Does he take time off for a ham sandwich and a sack of doughnuts before he pushes the red button?

Here’s this guy who built his reputation on an “in your face” reaction to opponents and critics who expects to be liked enough afterwards to vote for him. That probably includes those constituents in Fort Lee, N.J. who endured the world’s largest vehicle backup because of his vindictive staff members who wanted to get even for lack of support from a local politician.

I forgot to mention a third recent GOP entrant. Bobby Jindal, the relatively mild mannered governor of Louisiana. I was at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast a while back when he was the feature. He seemed like a nice enough little fellow although he spent the whole time yakking about the core curriculum and sidestepping any serious discussion about the state of the nation otherwise. Snore.

The great dour clown prince, Emmett Kelly, would feel right at home with at least half this line up. But maybe even he would have to smile.

Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers:

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