As Iowa Caucus nears, taking stock of laughingstock that is GOP field


Associated Press

Months ago, in a column I wrote about the Dallas Public Library and some books, I mentioned recommendations for mysteries by gay writer Mark Richard Zubro. I love Zubro and zipped right through all of his books. I bought the only volume the library didn’t own through its “Be A Book Hero” program, so I got first dibs when it came into the system.

Zubro’s books comprise two series, one built around gay Chicago police detective Paul Turner, the other featuring high school teacher Tom Mason and Tom’s partner, professional baseball star Scott Carpenter. In the latter series, when confronted with some monumental idiocy, Tom is prone to say, “Are you nuts?” — which is also the name of one book in the series.


Phyllis Guest Taking Notes

Well, as I take in as much as I can bear of the Republican presidential primary campaign, I keep asking my screens and my radios that question.

Here’s an example.

One morning on the local NPR station, a network political reporter was asking Republican debate attendees which candidate they favored. One couple, finishing each other’s sentences in their enthusiasm, said: “Newt Gingrich. He’s so honest. And honorable.”

This, about a man who asked his first wife for a divorce while she was in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery; who betrayed his second wife through an affair with the woman who is now wife three; and who was fined $300,000 in 1997-98 for violations of House ethics rules. Not to mention that Newt Gingrich was working to impeach Bill Clinton for seducing Monica

Lewinsky at the very same time he was boffing a Capitol Hill aide of his own.

Here’s another example.

Rick Perry, we have recently learned, not only takes his $150,000 salary as governor while he travels around Iowa in a big, ugly tour bus labeled “Faith, Jobs and Freedom,” but he collects $92,000 in government retirement pay at the same time. He lives in a taxpayer-funded spread that costs, if the news reports have it right, $10,000 per month. He hardly governs at all, and as proof that much governance is unnecessary, he proposes to make the U.S. Congress a part-time organization.

This is a man who also benefits from state-funded security protection, doles out jobs to friends with lots of ready money, and subscribes to a Christian faith so profound that he is one lethal injection away from having killed half the persons put to death in Texas since the ultimate penalty was reinstated in 1977.

And a third example.

Mitt Romney, we all know, grew up rich and got even richer. He sells himself on the basis of his business acumen. But he had a huge head start since his father was George Romney, the CEO of American Motors Corp., Michigan’s governor and a national Republican political player. He’s a very bright guy, no doubt; he has degrees from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Before entering politics, he ran a management consulting firm and its spinoff, Bain Capital, a very successful private equity firm.

But there is something profoundly weird about the man. When he sought the Republican nomination four years ago, I bought Mormonism for Dummies because I knew almost nothing about that religion. I must say I found it not so much impenetrable as incredible, but don’t take my word for it, read about it yourselves. What is weird, though, is not his religion or even the fact that he says, “Corporations are people, my friend.” It’s his whole persona. He seems to have all the right pieces in all the right places, but with insufficient glue holding them together.

Or how about Michele Bachmann? Shall we talk about her assaults on the LGBT community and apparent astonishment when the daughter of a lesbian confronted her? Perhaps we should consider her husband’s “conversion” therapy.

Or what about Ron Paul? For one thing, the man is even older than I am, and given his adherence to libertarian principles, I cannot imagine how he would manage to get anything done in our contentious, contemptuous capital.

Or why not revisit Herman Cain? I could hardly get past the fact that he thought God had called him to run for president so as to pay attention to his sexual exploits. I did manage to notice that his much-vaunted stint as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza was a full 15 years ago.

Finally, consider Rick Santorum, who apparently eschews both self control and birth control and so has seven children, and Jon Huntsman, who apparently lacks the gene for the rabid right-wing statements the party base demands.

So, Republican candidates and Republican voters, I put it to you: Are you nuts?

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.