The Phony Campaign

2012 Kickoff

[phony baloney]

Despite rousing lack of demand, we're resurrecting our occasional feature from the 2008 presidential season, the Phony Campaign.

What, too soon? Nay, friend: the New Hampshire Primary is roughly a mere year away, and things are starting to heat up, at least politically. Why, Pun Salad is pretty sure that was Haley Barbour helping us unload recyclables at the Rollinsford Transfer Station yesterday. Especially since, on our way home, we noticed our wallet was missing.

For newcomers: every so often, Pun Salad tabulates how many Google hits are associated with each presidential candidate's name when the additional search term "phony" is added. This reveals how the Web views the relative phoniness of the candidates, and how those perceptions change over the course of the campaign.

In our fantasy world, that is. In reality, these hit counts almost certainly mean less than nothing. They're just an excuse for Pun Salad to bitch about politics and politicians. Which amuses Pun Salad, if nobody else.

So here we go, with President Obama pitted against an initial, somewhat arbitrary, selection of GOP candidates:

Query String Hit Count
"Barack Obama" phony 3,940,000
"Sarah Palin" phony 2,870,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony 1,360,000
"Newt Gingrich" phony 1,350,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 488,000
"Tim Pawlenty" phony 374,000
"Mitch Daniels" phony 188,000
"John Thune" phony 129,000

  • Pun Salad is officially shocked by Mitt Romney's poor showing here, as he was expected to easily beat other Republicans. We fondly remember (and agree with) Jonah Goldberg's 2007 observation that if you hit the "mute" button while Romney's on the tube, he seems to be saying: What do I have to do to put you in this BMW today?

  • On the other hand, Pun Salad is not shocked at all about President Obama's commanding lead over the GOP field. Obama's phoniness is the easiest target since they first put fish in a barrel.

    For example: a number of folks have dug out this quote from 2006 when then-Freshman Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling:

    The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. ... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better

    A quick five years later, and Obama has gone from criticizing leadership failure to exemplifying it. Steven Chapman discusses Obama's "fake solution" proposed in the State of the Union address for fixing the fiscal crisis:

    Freezing non-security discretionary spending is like rounding up everyone on The Biggest Loser and putting the trainers on a diet. The payoff is likely to be small and certain to be irrelevant.

    Chapman notes that Obama is getting plenty of implicit cooperation in this nonsense from Republicans.

  • Newt Gingrich apparently decided that his affinity for corn-state votes outweighed his free market beliefs:

    While President Obama is pitching new “clean energy” mandates, potential presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was defending costly and environmentally destructive ethanol mandates in Iowa. Rejecting the charges of “big city” ethanol critics and invoking concerns about energy security, Gingrich argued that if only the federal government were to mandate that all cars sold in the U.S. be “flex-fuel’ vehicles capable of running on ethanol or methanol, the ethanol industry would be able to “stand on its own.” As much as Gingrich likes to criticize the President’s agenda (often with good reason), he apparently shares the President’s disdain for leaving energy choices to the market.

    In Newt's (slight) defense, he apparently supported this mandate at the same time he advocated ending ethanol subsidies.

  • And although John Thune is trailing the phony field, he's inspired the best anti-candidate website name so far: ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Looney Thune." Heh.


Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:19 PM EST