Op-ed: One down; who’s next?

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, September 15, 2015 12:28pm
  • Opinion

Now that Rick Perry has won the contest for the first to give up, he leaves behind several questions: First, of course, is “Who cares?” Other than Perry and maybe Ted Cruz. The eyes of Texas are only on Cruz now that his in-state rival has gone back home on the range. And what about those glasses Perry wore? Were they really for improving his eyesight, or were they an affectation to convince skeptics that he wasn’t as dumb as a stump? Will he continue to wear them, or will he return them and try to get his money back? Speaking of money, what will his sugar daddies (and mommies) do with the millions of dollars they funneled into the “independent” PACs that supported him? Unfortunately, that cash couldn’t be tapped to keep his campaign afloat, or to pay any staffers. So Rick Perry becomes the first one to ride into that sunset he says looks so good from his front porch.

The biggest question of all, though, is, Who’s next? So many candidates, so much time. Will it be one of the almosts, like Jim Gilmore and George Pataki, aka “Jim and George Who?” Gilmore didn’t even make it into the B-team debate on CNN, and Pataki barely did, along with Perry (before he bailed), Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham. Any of these guys is a candidate to become the next non-candidate, but you never know.

Maybe one of them can pull a Carly Fiorina and perform so memorably that they rise from the ashes of the ash-can debate and join the grown-ups in future encounters. As a matter of fact, the one who just might pull that off is Lindsey Graham. First of all, he’s got some substance, he’s not dogmatic and, most importantly, he is funny as all get-out. He even likes to make jokes about himself; he doesn’t need a Donald Trump to ridicule him. Even when Trump tried to, by famously releasing Graham’s cellphone number, Graham got the last laugh with a video showing him demonstrating the different ways to destroy his phone. Oh yeah, now you remember, that Lindsey Graham.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t done anything all that exciting since then, and he barely made the cut for the JV debate. But watch him and get a couple yucks.

He won’t have much competition in the comedy department from Jindal or Santorum. Neither is known for his sense of humor, or sense of much else. They’re interesting types, though. Santorum comes across, particularly with the sweaters he wears, as an amiable soul, like maybe Mr. Rogers, at least until you hear his take on morality and cultural issues. Then it’s a beautiful day in the 16th or 17th century. As for Jindal, he seems to be wound scarily tight.

Maybe we should really look to the main event for who’s next to flame out. Scott Walker must somehow stand out if he’s going to reverse his nose dive. Every time he opens his mouth, he seems to get in trouble. And lately he’s become like that cliche about the weather: If you don’t like his position on something, wait 10 minutes, and it’ll change.

Standing out is going to be really tough since most of the attention will be focused on The Donald and The Carly. Will Trump continue being a male chauvinist pig when Fiorina is standing just a few feet away? And what about Ben Carson, who has been a big hit as the kindly doctor who is soft-spoken, which is good, because much of what he speaks softly is drivel.

What the three of them have in common is that they’ve never held office, and inexperience is now a desirable qualification. The Republican primary debate Wednesday night will provide so much melodrama that CNN can expect a huge audience to rival the Fox News Donald Trump-Megyn Kelly Snark-O-Rama. Among those who presumably will be watching on Sept. 16 will be Rick Perry. The rest of us can decide who will be the next to join him on the sidelines.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Session ends with budget, dividend and bills passed

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Listen to PAs; support Senate Bill 115: Modernizing PA Practice in Alaska

Health care is rapidly evolving, demanding a more flexible and responsive system

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Opinion: Hilcorp Alaska: Powering Southcentral Alaska — past, present and future

Hilcorp Alaska has and will continue to fully develop our Cook Inlet basin leasehold

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Juneau Empire file photo
Larry Persily.
Opinion: Alaska might as well embrace the past

The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade