The Future Ex-Wife wanted me to get into juicing. As an athlete, I thought she meant steroids and I knew a guy who knew a guy at the gym. But, nooooo (in John Belushi voice), she meant fruits and vegetables. I had to go get a super extractomatic so that all of the inherent goodness of celery, spinach, and other garnishes could be expressed. You had to throw a lot of apples in there to give the resulting sludge any palatable flavor.
Then there was the mulch. All of the fibrous debris would be great as the base for some muffins, she insisted. No matter what, they came out as a brown sticky mass, as both the Alpha and Omega of the “digestive transaction.” Lovely.
In advance of tonight’s exercise in Las Vegas in which the Republican contenders for your vote will talk over each other, I have a modest proposal that would entertain Jonathan Swift, as well as Baron von Frankenstein, Doctor Moreau and other titans of pseudoscience.
My handicapping and analysis of the GOP field has still left me with no pre-eminent choice but, with a little of this guy, a little of that guy, pour over frozen bits of another guy, and garnish with a twist of Fiorina, and you might have the makings of a nominee daiquiri.
First, any good cocktail recipe starts with its spirit base. Where would we find the distilled essence of this field? I would go right to the top shelf, the most elite deliberative body on Earth (as it describes itself) — the United State Senate. This is supposed to be the place, modeled after the Roman Senate, where principles are expounded. However, I have not seen Marcus Porcius Cato or Marcus Tullius Cicero in the chamber lately. At least the current occupants on the Senate have not surrounded Obama in the lobby prior to a State of Union speech with something hidden in their togas.
Even though I prefer single-malts to blended Scotch, there could be an interesting mix of spirits from Rand Paul’s libertarianism, Marco Rubio’s energy, Lindsey Graham’s hawkishness, and Ted Cruz’ position as a strict constructionist. Even Rick Santorum’s unwillingness to accept reality is a philosophical construct. This blend might be too much to drink neat but it’s a start.
Second, the mixer is usually where the vitamins are found, which gives me an excuse to say that cocktails are medicinal. Still, I want my orange juice to be fresh, not from concentrate, in a screwdriver, and a Jameson and Coke does mean that Winn-Dixie diet cola is acceptable. I am looking for authenticity for this part.
This brings us to the governors and, even with Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker out; there is still a six-pack to be had from Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore. There are obvious parallels in experience among chief executives. Like presidents, governors have to work with a legislative body, manage many departments, appoint cabinet officers and top officials, and be the face of that which they lead. Even as commander-in-chief, each governor has the power to call out and deploy the National Guard and has a military advisor. This is mostly for natural disasters but also happens in times of civil unrest for peacekeeping.
However, do not put total stock in fiscal responsibility claims as every state from which these Republican governors arose already has a balanced budget requirement in its state constitution or statutes. Having no annual deficit is not an accomplishment if to do otherwise is prohibited. The way in which that balance is struck is a good thing to explore. Was the line item veto (not a Presidential power) used to cut turkeys out of the budget? Were user fees increased? Were services cut? Were government functions outsourced and privatized? “How” is more important than “how much” because that shows a predilection for future actions.
Finally, throwing two things in a glass is no more a cocktail than mac-n-cheese is a dish. To craft a classic, we need a few extras to round off the edges of our mix. What can we draw from the candidates who are neither senators nor governors?
Perhaps Carly Fiorina is that dash of bitters. All CEOs, just like head coaches, are hired to be fired, so I do not take her ouster at Hewlett-Packard as an automatic negative. Her constant effort to out-serious the rest of the field brings up my memories of the teacher who supervised study hall and confiscated all of our comic books and car magazines.
Ben Carson could be that simple syrup that sweetens the mix. His quiet and polite manner is refreshing among the bombast. Having been around doctors and hospitals my whole life, due to my father’s career (and a few years of my own professional life), I can tell you why doctors are such lousy dressers. They have to contemplate the combined effects of multiple drugs, how a kidney works, or where to reattach damaged limbs. There is no room in their minds for what shirt goes with which trousers. They think deeply but narrowly.
Finally, I think Donald Trump is the ice machine. I am not wearing one of his shirts today but I have generally found things with his name on them to be of good quality. A Trump property will have rooms, restaurants, gaming, entertainment, golf, and service of the highest order. I can count on that (but don’t tell him I am a Hilton man by preference).
What Trump beings to our cocktail is an anticipatory noise. When I hear the crushed ice coming out of the door or via the blender, I already know the sensation that awaits. I knew it since I was going to the Icee machine as a kid in Tampa, before I ever went to Fat Tuesday in Key West. It will be refreshing by contrast but I dread that inevitable brain freeze headache.