Dean Keaton: McManus. What the fuck is going on?
McManus: The strangest thing...
From the Greek for “many senses.”
That’s what linguists call it when the same word or phrase can be used in more than one sense.
A single word might have a number of senses. Take English writer and theologian G. K. Chesterton’s description in his classic 1909 Orthodoxy, “The word good has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man."
Note the italics.
A entire phrase can also be a polyseme. Take this one: The sole survivor of a horrific slaughter, who may not be what he seems, describes a conspiracy of bizarre events orchestrated by a mythical mastermind which begins when a group of criminals meet at a seemingly random police lineup.
You saw it right away, didn’t you?
Of course that’s the 1995 Kevin Spacey movie The Usual Suspects.
Give it eighteen months, and very likely that exact phrase can be used to accurately describe the 2016 US presidential election season…
Is this your first day? How did you not see that one coming?
There's no way they'd line up five felons in the same room, no way!
- Dean Keaton, The Usual Suspects, 1995
And it is the usual suspects, isn’t it?
The same old shady characters, partners in crime, all after the big score. And in the end? Well, you’ll have to see the movie, but let’s just say it doesn’t end well.
This week Lindsey Graham announced his candidacy for president, bringing the officially declared (filed with the Federal Election Commission) field of Republicans to nine – or ten, or a hundred, depending on how you define the polyseme “ridiculous” and whether or not Graham understands he’s running for the President of the United States and not the Confederacy.
Now, in all honesty, I think Graham’s candidacy adds a certain … symmetry to the election.
That’s right, symmetry. See, on the Democrat side, we’ve got a career politician who’s the spouse of a former president, so it makes sense for the Republicans to nominate their own career politician who is married to … what? What now? It’s too soon for a John McCain/Lindsey Graham gay marriage joke?
Okay. Fine. I’ll stop.
But, really, come on, Lindsey Graham? Lindsey. Graham?
Because what? The Republicans didn’t already have enough fanatical narrow-eyed warmongering Christian Jihadists who hate government, science, and gay people? Is that right?
I'm telling you this guy is protected from up on high by the Prince of Darkness.
- Jeff Rabin
Lindsey Graham, this guy is the rest of the GOP lineup, combined and distilled.
Let’s see there’s Ben Carson who thinks sexual orientation is something you learn in a prison shower and dead veterans are God weighing in on the Affordable Healthcare Act. Carson’s primary utility is that Republicans can hold him up and say, See? We’re not racists. But the same people who’ve been calling Barack Obama “nigger” for the last six years, well, see, they’re never going to let Ben Carson marry their daughters. Ever.
We’ve got Ted “The Chosen One” Cruz, who hates the US Government to a degree that makes any random Iranian Ayatollah’s rhetoric sound like a round of Kumbaya at a hippy love-in. Cruz prides himself on being a loose cannon or in Tea Party vernacular “going rogue.” As such Cruz’s most noteworthy accomplishment is that he’s elevated paranoia from mental illness to a comic book superpower and managed to convince both Republicans and Democrats that he’s a rampaging elephant. And while watching a blood maddened pachyderm trumpeting wildly and trampling the villagers can be amusing under the right conditions, a guy who can’t even get along with the people on his own team ain’t never going to be President.
A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself.
- Verbal Kint
Carly Fiorina, the Republican business “expert” who nearly destroyed one of largest and most respected companies in the world and now wants to try the same thing on an international scale. With nuclear weapons.
Mike “Jesus Take the Wheel” Huckabee, who in a staggering abuse of the word “irony” believes if Christians are not allowed to criminalize any belief or act they disagree with, then they themselves are somehow being thrown to the lions. Huckabee, he jokes that he wants to be transgendered so he can “shower with the girls.” Because that’s why people are transgendered, you know, so they can sneak a peek in the locker room. This guy, he seems like a nice respectable fellow, charming and a little daffy, the kindly uncle, but in Stephen King novels all those mysteriously missing women? They’re chained up in Father Huckabee’s basement dungeon.
He's here! I know he's here! That's him! I'm telling you that's him! You hear me? I'm telling you it's Keyser Soze!
George Pataki whose only real claim to fame is that his name sort of sounds like the Mirror Universe version of George Takei. Pataki is this season’s Jon Huntsman, an old fashioned Republican who has almost nothing in common with the modern GOP. Like Huntsman before him, Pataki has the potential to appeal to moderates on both sides of aisle and he could actually win the general election and the White House. And like Huntsman, George Pataki will be the first one out, he’ll never make it to the primaries.
Rand Paul, this guy right here is why you’ll never see a libertarian president. This week he’s managed to piss off every single Republican in Congress and nearly every Democrat. Republicans literally ended up with Barack Obama, squared off against Paul. Think about that for a minute, won’t you? Stand with Rand is his campaign slogan, but he won’t stand with his own party, what makes you think he’s going to stand with you when the chips are down? He’s got the feral cat vote sewn up, but there’s not a chance in hell he’s going to get the Republican nomination. Frankly the GOP has more in common with Hillary Clinton than they do with Rand Paul.
One cannot be betrayed if one has no people.
Marco Rubio, seriously, why is this guy in the race?
And then, well, then there’s Rick Santorum. You know, I had a snarky bit all worked up for Rick Santorum, then I realized I couldn’t do any better than Charlie Pierce: “He remains the perfect blend of smug sanctimony and greasy smarm. He's the only guy who can talk to you about God and make you think he's talking about the guy from HR. Rick Santorum remains a colossal dick.”
Fenster: Man, I had a finger up my asshole tonight.
Hockney: Is it Friday already?
And of course, there’s always Donald Trump leading the lunatic fringe – and when you’re on the fringe of this crowd, well, that’s saying something. Trump’s a showman, a carnival barker, the flimflam man who’s more interested in fleecing the marks than he is in being President – not that he’d turn down the job, but to him it’s all a big joke and he’s yucking it up as only Donald Trump can.
Keaton: I'm a businessman now.
Cop: Yeah? What's that, the restaurant business? No. From now on, you're in the gettin'-fucked-by-us business.
Of the as yet undeclared Republican Governors, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Chris Christie…
(You’re waiting for the “big fat guy, I mean, like, orca fat” quote, aren’t you? This is a classy blog, folks, I’m not gonna do it)
… and John Kasich, Jeb Bush is the only serious contender.
Jeb Bush, his very name is a polyseme.
Bush is the devil you think you know. His primary strength is that he’s not any of the other Republican candidates. He loves puppies and babies and war, he hates abortion and Muslims and gay marriage. He’s got all the right connections and he even speaks Spanish so he can order the help around himself. And best of all, at least for political writers like me, he’s got the patented Bush double-take gimmick down pat as he so aptly demonstrated last week by first declaring he would have invaded Iraq, then he wouldn’t have invaded Iraq, then he appointed his brother who did invade Iraq using the logic of “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know” as his foreign policy advisor.
If I had to put money on it, I’d say Bush will be the 2016 GOP nominee.
If only because he’s not Lindsey Graham.
You know how this ends, right?
Of course you do
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that ... he’s gone.