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The Self-Parody Primary

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In the exciting tradition of Unity ’08, Americans Elect ’12,  Man of the Year, and jerking off to pictures of elderly people eating expired baby food, Politico is offering its very own thrilling primary. Which center-right Pain Caucus hack would you like to completely shake up the race? They’re all winners, but it doesn’t get much more proactive than Erskine Bowles!

But there is a decent chance conventional politicians playing by conventional rules are playing it all wrong. Many voters seem open to, if not hungry for, a real discussion about tough changes. Ask Republicans and Democrats alike to name a serious and responsible thinker who could lead this discussion and the name Erskine Bowles often tops the list.

Bowles, 66, is far from an inspirational figure. In fact, he can be as dull as a butter knife in public settings. But he knows budgets, and numbers, and tough choices (he’s the man who asked Dick Morris to resign in the Clinton years) and, unlike most, has slapped his name on ideas that upset leaders of both parties but excite deficit hawks on both sides.

The Bowles pitch would rest on a rarity in modern campaigns: a very specific proposal for the tough budget choices the country should make. He came up with a truly bipartisan plan that took a real whack at America’s long-term deficits, only to see the plan abandoned by Obama, who had appointed him to make those choices in the first place.

If there’s anything the public wants, it’s a dreary fiscal scold who can’t get elected to anything but has taken a principled stand in favor of slashing entitlements to fund upper-class tax cuts, and when does that view ever get represented in the Beltway? He’s totally in your face!

I don’t mean to neglect the other entries, which also provide much comedy gold.  Puzzled as to how Hillary Clinton could be a transformative alternative to Barack Obama even though she agrees with him about everything?   It’s her access to Real Men of Genius:

She would have to make a strong my-country-needs-me-so-I’m-making-this-big-leap argument and could turn to Mark Penn and Greenberg for advice on navigating the disenchanted segment with a pro-business, tough-on-China, America-rocks message.

I think we’ve reached the point where further comment is superfluous.

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