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Modern Conservative Family

And the award for television’s best situation comedy goes to… the Republican Presidential Candidates’ Debates
by Nancy Ford

Are you enjoying the Republican debates as much as I am? Who can resist the drama, the laughs, the surprises as we witness the winnowing down of candidates intent on leading the Right back to the White House? It’s like watching a three-ringed circus featuring nothing but the elephants and their dung.

Who doesn’t delight at Mitt Romney’s idiot stammering as he imagines releasing his tax returns, or at Rick Santorum’s clammy fidgeting as he imagines potential contributors’ horror as they Google his name. The $10,000 side bets. The sordid sexual tales of infidelity and betrayal? It’s like crack for wonkheads.

At this writing, a mere four candidates still had their eyes on the electoral prize, down from a field of what seemed like dozens of conservative clones. But the memories of the original cast of White House hopefuls linger on. Just like that elephant dung.

It’s a toss-up as to which makes us laugh harder: these GOP playoffs or my other favorite prime-time TV show, Modern Family. Every week the Pritchett/Dunphy clan delights us with their unpredictable predicaments and kooky personality traits in ABC’s much-lauded situation comedy. Have you noticed the stars of both Modern Family and the Republican debates possess striking similarities? No? Well, look closer.

Michele Bachmann = Gloria Delgado Pritchett. They both rock a stylish, sexy appearance. They both firmly believe what they believe—facts be damned. And we can’t understand much at all of what either of them says, but whatever it is, it often makes us laugh. It did give us a bit of a scare, however, when Michele’s poll numbers actually went up after it was revealed (in Season 2, I think it was) that she and her girlfriend Marcus owned and operated a magical homo-to-hetero conversion clinic.

Supporting player honorable mention: Marcus Bachmann = Cam Tucker. Go ahead, deny it.

Newt Gingrich = Cam Tucker. Soft and ruddy, quick with a quip, and inclined to high dudgeon, both Newt and Eric Stone-street, the straight man who plays Cam, prove that somewhere deep within us all lies a queer gene just waiting to be tapped. Stonestreet is genius-like in his ability to tap that quality. But unlike Cam, Newt’s pushed his gay sensibility down so hard that it squeezed out into his half-sister, Candace. But frankly, we can’t imagine Cam asking his husband Mitchell for an open relationship.

Jon Huntsman = Haley Dunphy. From the beginning of his campaign, Mr. Huntsman clearly was not the most popular among his tribe, like Haley—but, also like Haley, clearly is the most intelligent. In June 2011, when he announced his run for the White House, Mr. Huntsman told reporters he would not challenge New York State’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. “I would respect the state’s decision on that,” he replied in a Haley-like tone. The former Utah governor dropped out of the race in mid-January, perhaps because his rhetoric didn’t have enough hate in it to appease most conservatives.

Ron Paul = Manny Delgado. Both Ron and Manny are obsessed about many issues that are far, far beyond their control, and are equally obsessed with offering absurd solutions to those problems. But, unlike Dr. Paul, Manny has an excuse: as his mother Gloria would say, “He’s yoost a leeeetle boyyyyy!” Still, we can’t imagine Manny ever saying something like: “I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when societal pressure forced them to hide their activities. They could also not be as promiscuous. Is it any coincidence that the AIDS epidemic developed after they ‘came out of the closet,’ and started hyper-promiscuous sodomy? I don’t believe so, medically or morally.” [The Ron Paul Political Report, June 1990.] Ay yi yi yi yi.

Rick Perry = Alex Dunphy. Both are so pretty. Both are so aware of it. Both seem smarter when silent. In “Strong,” the notorious December campaign greeting featuring his exemplary coif, Governor Perry says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” Even Alex knows better than to sputter something like that. Plus, did you notice that when former Texas state representative Glen Maxey published a book about the gay rumors swirling and twirling around Perry for decades, the governor jumped his sinking campaign ship quicker than captain Francesco Schettino abandoned the Costa Concordia? Oops.

Mitt Romney = Phil Dunphy. If Governor Romney stopped taking his robot meds, he would be virtually indistinguishable from Phil: both are so wanting—make that needing—to be liked. But Phil is a man of conviction who is faithful to his tenets: if Phil supports marriage equality and reproductive choice on Monday, he likely still supports both of those concepts on Tuesday. Then there’s that whole magic underwear thing which gives Mitt an odd visible panty line under those Everyman Jeans he looks so uncomfortable wearing. Like Mitt, the fanciful Phil might also choose to sport magic underwear, but only if they produced pigeons or helped him fly.

President Barack Obama = Jay Pritchett and Claire Pritchett Dunphy. It didn’t seem fair to not assign a comparable Modern Family character to Obama; he is, after all, running for reelection, though obviously in opposition. Like Modern Family’s patriarch, Jay, the president’s hair is getting grayer and grayer every day. And like Claire, we hope he doesn’t lose any more weight.

Can’t wait for the summer reruns. I mean, conventions.

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