Clown Cars, Edsels and the Model-T

The cute folks on Leftist websites have taken to dubbing the growing Republican Presidential hopeful field as a “clown car.”  Of course they are referring to that well-worn circus tradition of a small car driven into the center ring out of which emerge a large number of clowns.  To wit, this is a partial list of some headline articles from the children at DailyKos, Alternet, and Salon:

  • The GOP Clown Car Crashes Again (1/2/15- Alternet)
  • The Clown Car is on the Road- First Stop: Liberty University (3/24/15- DailyKos)
  • The GOP’s Nagging Clown Show Problem (4/30/15- Salon)
  • With Carly Fiorina, GOP Clown Car Filling Up Fast (5/4/15-DailyKos)
  • GOP Clown Car Gets More Crowded with Ben Carson (5/4/15-DailyKos)
  • First Big Debate Test: Fitting All the Clowns on One Stage (5/5/15- DailyKos)
  • GOP Clown Car Bewildered by How to Respond to Evolution (5/6/15- DailyKos)
  • 5 Craziest Moments of GOP’s Clown Car Primary Race, So Far (5/7/15- Alternet)

There are currently six officially announced Republican hopefuls in the mix: Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Fiorina, Carson and Huckabee.  There are likely to be others soon- Walker, Bush, Perry, and others bringing the number to nine or ten (or maybe more).

Let’s get something out of the way early.  Nobody on the Right or in the Republican Party believes that every candidate has an equal shot at the nomination.  Neither is anyone counting anyone out just yet.  We have yet to have a single debate.  Some of the announcements have been low key.  Some may simply be positioning oneself for a future administration position.

But, isn’t this a great problem to have for the Republican Party?  Each has strengths they can use and weaknesses that can be exploited.  The good part about the “weakness” factor is that it is diffused across a varied cast of candidates.  There is no concentrating on one single, or even two candidates.  At this point, they key is to stay focused on who the real enemy is and it is not the person standing at the next lecturn during a debate.

Compare this with the Democratic field which consists of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  If the Republican field is a “clown car, then Clinton represents the Edsel.  If you look up the term “Edsel” in Wikipedia and the part on the reasons for its failure, it is almost a description of Hillary Clinton.  First, the Edsel, like Clinton, was a marketing disaster.  The Left portrayed her announcement as brilliant while the rest of the country adopted a “WTF” attitude.  There was much fanfare around the Edsel and it was kept under wraps when delivered to dealerships.  If that does not epitomize the Clinton campaign to this point, I do not know what does.  When the wraps came off, people did not like the Edsel.  The Edsel was also the wrong car at the wrong time.  Again, this describes Clinton.  Perhaps her time was 2008 but someone else got in her way.  The Edsel was designed to compete with sleek, newer looking competitor models.  Everyone of the GOP candidates is sleeker and newer than Clinton.  Even the name of the Edsel was a controversy while the name Clinton conjures up controversy and scandal.  Like Clinton, there were design controversies (the Clinton transformation) and mechanical failures.  Taken altogether, the similarities between Hillary Clinton and the Edsel (versus the GOP and a clown car) are clearly stronger.

Enter Bernie Sanders, the venerable far Left reliable liberal from Vermont.  He clocks in at the ripe young age of 73.  Perhaps he is there to make Clinton look like the younger choice for the Democratic Party.  But, does anyone take Sanders’ chances seriously?  Well, some folks at Alternet, but then again consider the source.  He is like the Model-T.  You see it on the road on its way to some classic car show and say, “Hey! Look at that neat old car” and then forget about it a quarter mile down the road.  You don’t take it seriously as a mode of transportation in 2016.  Instead, his presence in the mix serves one purpose- to pull Clinton further to the Left and so far it is working like a charm.

And people on the Left know this which is why they are celebrating his entrance into the race.  But what is the difference between that scenario and the so-called clown car in the GOP field?  Carson, Fiorina and Huckabee may realistically have a very slim chance, but they certainly represent various factions within the Republican Party and their presence will likely keep other candidates conservatively honest… until the general election campaign.

For my money, I would rather be associated with the clown car than associated with a name synonymous with the ultimate failure of the predicted perfect product.  And it may have been a reliable vehicle for a long period of time, but you do not see too many people driving a Model-T these days.  The final joke will be on the Democrats when the Edsel is once again rejected and the Model T appears at classic car shows.