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Groucho for president!

Groucho Marx
About 80 years ago, Groucho Marx anticipated the 2011 Republican presidential field and nailed it but good with this ditty:

"I don't know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I'm against it."

For today's Republican field, that means that whatever President Obama is for, the GOP candidates are against.

The knee-jerk absurdity of this is never further away than the next GOP debate, but it resurfaced this week when Herman Cain was asked about Libya by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial board.

Cain appears to be trying to sound out the board for clues to shape his answer, the way a TV psychic tries to coax his subject into giving him answers without the subject realizing it.

"President Obama supported the uprising, correct?" he ventured. "President Obama called for the removal of Kadafi -- just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say 'Yes, I agree,' or 'No, I didn't agree.' "

Was there some other Kadafi, the dictator of some other country, that Cain might have been confusing with Moammar Kadafi?

The healthcare overhaul: Some Republican leaders -- George H.W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich -- actually liked individual healthcare mandates, until the Obama White House got it passed.

And some Republicans have railed against stimulus money projects in general, but endorsed them in their own backyards and on the campaign trail. Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the government for federal loan guarantees for a Texas nuclear power plant. Now he says he's against federal energy subsidies. In New Hampshire and Iowa, campaigning GOP candidates applauded local entrepreneurs whose achievements were possible in part because of federal money. It's funding the candidates condemned in the abstract but cheered in person in voter-rich target states.

Now, imagine a Groucho campaign. No shilly-shallying, no hemming and hawing. It's the soundbite-perfect slogan: "Vote Groucho -– whatever it is, he's against it."

It's really a shame that Groucho couldn't win. Not because he's dead –- that's no constitutional impediment. Not because he smokes -- Cain's campaign manager did that in an ad.  

It isn't because of the 'stache, although America hasn't had a chief executive adorned with facial hair since Teddy Roosevelt.

It's the cap and gown he wears. "Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff"? He must be some kind of intellectual. And if he is -– they're against it.

 

RELATED:

McManus: Presidential crystal balls

Newt Gingrich and the presidential cauldron

Goldberg: In debates, Newt Gingrich's real target is Obama

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: Groucho Marx. Credit: Handout / File

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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