It has come to this.
That was Republican candidate for president Rick Perry proving that the GOP has fully embraced not even trying to sound smart anymore. Don't take this for a biased "All Republicans are imbeciles" partisan attack -- the Democratic Party hasn't always thrust forth the most intellectual candidates of the day. There's plenty of evidence, for example, that JFK was an academic idiot. We've had stupid candidates and presidents from both parties. But before, they always tried to hide the fact that they weren't smart.
For all his common-man mannerisms and Texas charm, George W. Bush was a big fan of books and making sure you knew he read them. The new Republicans are different. It's one thing for Sarah Palin to believe common sense and values are important for running a country -- it's hard to argue with that. It's something else to believe they're all you need, and that putting additional information in your brain somehow kills off the values part. She actually used the fact that she only had an ordinary education as a selling point.
Transcribed, here's what that speech looked like:
"I believe that I am because I have common sense and I have I believe the values that I think are reflective of so many other American values, and I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the uhm, the ah, a kind of spineless, spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite, Ivy League-education and, and a fat resume that is based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans are could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership, I'm not saying that that has to be me."
Yowch. So, the Ivy League-educated people who form the backbone of GOP strategy screwed up. Everyone gets one. But then Christine O'Donnell happened ...
And then Michele Bachmann happened. Michele Bachmann thinks Democrats might behind swine flu.
I get that we're talking about two different parties here, the Republicans and the Tea Party, except, not really. And I get that it's not like there's a grandmaster GOPmeister moving candidates around like chess pieces (I think).
The point is, whatever those American politicians lack in book smarts, they usually make up for in preparation and hard work. Anyone who watched the 2000 presidential debates probably remembers that they weren't horrifyingly one-sided, in spite of Bush's and Gore's respective reputations. Contrast that to Herman Cain, who barely knows that Libya is a thing, much less a place that he needs to conjure up an opinion on.
Never mind that three of the GOP primary candidates don't believe humans have anything to do with climate change, or that four of them don't believe in evolution. Forget all that for a second ... the fact that this is who Republicans are bringing to the table against one of the smoothest orators of that last 50 years is what's appalling. Think of how the debates are going to go when Perry can't remember the word "the." Or Cain gets asked about Europe. Or someone asks Bachmann to speculate where AIDS comes from.
None of those things are going to happen, of course, because those three will never see the light of day against Obama. But shame on the GOP for not scraping together every conservative genius they could find for the contest.
When you say "Internet clip," most people think of funny, confusing or gross little throwaway videos they've shared with their friends. I'm sure my fellow editors have chosen some really cute, clever or innovative clips and have terribly amusing things to say about them. And why not? They're funny guys.
They're the life of the party, those guys.
"Ha ha ha! Remember when we had to pretend to know each other?"
Me? Right now, I'm the guy who hangs out in the kitchen and picks a fight about abortion rights with everybody who hits up the chip bowl. I didn't come to this thing to pound some brews and connect with friends; I just want to ruin your goddamn night because Shelly decided she wanted to have a gay phase and the office is doing layoffs and you just know that son of a bitch Chad is going to sell me down the river for that missing printer ink but have you seen that shit? It's like $43 a pop. That's more than the goddamn printer. What was I supposed to do, pay for it? Fuck that. Yeah, I took it. I did it, all right? And now I'm probably out of a job and my girlfriend is banging a fixie-riding half-Asian barista and I'm going to fucking talk to you about fetuses while you try to eat a Frito because it pisses me off that you're sitting there having a good time right in my face.
So here. Here's my choice for clip of the year. It's the Japanese tsunami.
Laugh it up, funny guys.
Gadhafi, in happier times, being shithouse crazy.
The overthrow of the Gadhafi regime provided what conspiracy theorists and therefore the media (see Trump Law of looky-here media manipulation) were so desperately seeking in the wake of bin Laden's death: visual evidence that someone had been brutally murdered.
The handheld camera phone footage -- a blood-drenched Gadhafi pleading for his life followed by a smash cut to his dead body being rolled over in the dirt -- arrived concurrently with the news that he was dead. Reports seem to indicate that Gadhafi is dead, and so does this video showing his dead body being paraded through the street by terrifying bearded men.
"I gun down dictators like I eat Cheetos, and I eat all the Cheetos."
As an empathizing Westerner whose family members were never raped or murdered by the General, I instinctively empathized with the underdog in this fight. I didn't want him to get away, but watching the video footage made my mind race for a better way to handle the proceedings. I mostly knew him from his hilariously rambling speech at the UN a few years ago and the caricature played by Fred Armisen on Saturday Night Live. But that's more than I could say for the guys surrounding him and firing machine guns into the sky.
The video didn't seem to set the Web aflame the way a photograph of bin Laden's dead body was supposed to. The production quality on the video could have been better, and the soundtrack of people shouting in Arabic left something to be desired, but I suspect the reason that the footage was so quickly digested and discarded by the public was that it was genuinely unpleasant to look at. Regardless of what our brain shouts at us, we don't necessarily want to see how our laundry gets washed in the dirty streets of the Middle East.
At the end of the day, what we really want are pictures of photogenic Arab men waving golden handguns.
We wanted Return of the Jedi, the heroic underdogs upheaving the coolly evil bad guy. We didn't want to see Darth Vader beg for his life, just like we didn't want to know that Episode VII of Star Wars would be a terrifying power vacuum in which the leaders of the rebellion were arrested and tortured by the military leaders who survived.
If Luke had sported a mustache like that, the Empire wouldn't have lasted more than an hour.
Answering the question "What next?" is a messy but important one in such a tumultuous year in international politics. Unfortunately, the question of "What just happened?" was the only one we seemed interested enough to pay attention to.
Considering it's just two and a half minutes of complete absurdity, making the Rick Perry Bad Lip-Reading video must have required an insanely specific skill. The creator had to learn to read lips, but not quite to proficiency; he had to be exactly mediocre for it to work.
In an interview with The Washington Post, he revealed that his mother had lost her hearing over a matter of months, and in an effort to understand what she was going through, he would mute the television and try to guess what people were saying. He didn't have any formal training, he was just curious about lip-reading. His inadequate ability made for some hilarious errors, and so he started sharing them on YouTube, through dubbed music videos first and then political commercials. Had he discovered his ability at any other point in time, it would have just been a novel trick that a few people would have appreciated before moving on, but by chance, he discovered it during the first stages of the Republican primary, and that made all the difference.
"... and that's the kind of liberal immigrant work policy we just won't tolerate in this party."
"Save a Pretzel for the Gas Jets" was the first of many political dubs that found the perfect way to poke fun at rambling politicians, regardless of party affiliation. There is no pointed agenda or attacks on the personal lives of the politicians -- they are just compilations of laughably senseless dialogue spilling out of the proud faces of each candidate. I don't know what kind of lasting power these videos will have, but "Save a Pretzel for the Gas Jets" was a perfect zeitgeist for 2011.