More Wild West Show Than Presidential Horse Race

The MSM likes to depict any election as a horse race, but the more I watch the 2012 presidential nomination process and particularly the debates, the more it feels like I’m watching the waning days of a Wild West Show.

See what you think…

Posters have been up all over town for weeks, but budgets are tight.  Audience members had to forego a few things to get here tonight and there is no extra money for souvenirs or buffalo wings. The mood doesn't gets any more friendly as it feeds on overpriced popcorn and stale cheetos waiting for the show to begin.

Poster for The Great Pawnee Bill shows. The on...The star of the show is the first to ride into the arena.  (It's in his contract to be first.)  Seated confidently upon his expensively dressed and trained show horse, Dressage Rider Gingrich does a victory lap in a high prancing side-step, worthy of an Olympian "10" for its beautifully arched neck and tail alone.  He shows his star power by throwing in a few loud snorts and head tosses.

Suddenly, the spot light shines on the center ring and a hush falls over the crowd.  Horse and rider move as one to execute a series of wild and dramatic kicks to straw man dummies set up in a circle. With a bow to the audience, horse and rider resume the high prancing side-step as they leave the ring.

Following at a respectable distance behind the wild kicking show horse is Wagon Master Romney.  He sits astride his horse looking tired and dusty.  As wagon master he usually leads the show, but for the first time he's lost ranking to a star performer.  Standing up in the stirrups he looks back over the wagon train.  Sure he likes to throw a bet down now and then, who doesn't.  And he's made some unpopular decisions, who hasn't.  But, he's a caring man.  With a tip of the hat to the audience, he sits back in the saddle and trots off to catch up with the lead wagon.

Fast on the heels of the wagon train come the rodeo cowboys.  Their energy is infectious and the crowd responds in kind.  Riding in every direction at once, they whoop and holler and do riding tricks in rapid succession.  Everyone's eyes are so busy they don't immediately see the lanky Texan who lumbers in atop a massive Brahma called "El Fed".   

Bull-rider Paul looks the seasoned professional he is -- weathered, tough and fearless.  No one doubts his tenacity or the dangerousness of El Fed, with his fiercely long horns and an iron nose ring.  Everyone keeps a respectful distance as bull and rider plod across the arena.

Taking a break from shooting a Marlboro commercial (he keeps forgetting his lines), Sheriff Perry ambles in leading his pony.  He polishes his badge and ask the audience to join his posse in protecting the christians and the military.  

With a last drag on his cigarette, he flicks it into the sawdust before mounting his pony.  He rears his horse in true Lone Ranger style and, with a wave of his hat to the cheering crowd, wheels around, kicking up dust that only adds to the spreading fire.  Without a look back, he gallops off in search of the lawbreakers of Brokeback Mountain.

There's an awkward pause in the show as a General orders a ragtag band of soldiers to put out the fire and set up the barrel race.  

This used to be when Chieftain Cain raced in with his band of Tea Tribe Indians to do some trick bareback riding and bow and arrow demonstrations before heading after the wagon train with a war-whoop.  At which point General Santorum and his troops would ride to the rescue of the wagon train and reenact the battle of Little Bighorn. But the Chief left the show after being unseated by the appearance of one too many wayward fillies.   

A traveling man at heart, the Chief traded in his teepee for a buckboard, bed roll and the open road where he can sell his books and preach his 999 medicine to new converts while working on a contract to become a media Fox. 

Barrel Racer Bachmann gallops in and executes her turns with speed and precision and even an occasional flourish, but the audience response is tepid.  She can hear the comparisons to the previous barrel racers who were champions with bigger names and bigger personalities.  She started out with the Tea Tribe before Chief Cain joined up and everything went south.  Determined to move out of the shadows, she decides to audition for leader of  the Tea Tribe as soon as she can find a Pocahontas outfit. 

Suddenly a bugle sounds in the distance and a rider thunders into the arena astride a rainbow-colored pony. Could it be... Yes, its Rough Rider Obama and his unicorn pony, Hope.  As the bugle continues to sound, man and pony charge up and down a series of fake hills.  

The stirring imagery is only slightly marred by the Rough Riders death grip on the saddle horn.  As they topped the largest hills, a ring of  TOTUS' drop down.  One smashes Hope's uni-horn.  Deciding it was the last straw, a broken horned Hope tries to bucks off a suddenly tenacious Rough Rider Obama before galloping off in search of her long-lost twin, Change. 

The grand finale parade begins to file in, but the audience looks confused and begins to mumble.  Could this really be all there is to the show? They paid good money and ate stale popcorn to see these second-rate acts?  What ever happened to that bear wrestler Marijuana Johnson and  No PAC Preacher Roemer?  At least the last town got to see that Huntsman guy with his singing daughters...

Can this presidential wild west show be saved?  What will it take?  And who can they get at this late date to join the show?

Stay tuned.



  1. I’ve been in and out of various “horse circles” for the past 20 years. My youngest daughter rode English and was damn good at it. At her various barns, all the trainers were women, as were at least 95% of the riders. I tried to get my son to take an interest because the odds were so good, but he scored chicks the old fashioned way. Some of the girls were a bit tomboyish, most were pretty tough emotionally and all were physically strong–the sport required it. I didn’t notice much overt feminism, but the women seemed natural and strong, and took no shit for the most part.When the daughter was older she switched to western style. Lot’s more guys ride western. I’d say the balance was about 50/50. Now she’s married and her husband is a cowboy. He rodeos. Of course there are girl barrel riders, but there are also a few girls in most events, not many, but a few. The girl rodeoers that I know are all tough as hell.I don’t think I have much gaydar, but my impression is that the vast majority of horsewomen that I knew were straight. No one really gave a damn one way or the other.My advice–don’t get between a woman and her horse.


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