Will The Republicans Nominate A Groundhog?

Published 4:02 pm Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just when the GOP primary field seemed whittled down to manageable size, a groundhog from Pennsylvania has declared his candidacy for president.

Punxsutawney Phil, capitalizing on the national attention brought his way by Groundhog Day, has joined the Republican fold.

“I can dig up dirt on anybody,” Phil said, demonstrating his sod-spraying prowess for this reporter.

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“And if Gingrich or Romney want to throw mud,” the groundhog pledged, “I can sling mud with the best of them.”

Phil said he had been “shadowing the candidates” for several weeks and made his decision after the South Carolina results.

But it was the Iowa Caucus that got him thinking because the winning margin was just 34 votes.

“I can get 34 votes,” he asserted, displaying a certain lack of understanding but a great deal of enthusiasm.

Phil sought to distance himself from the perception of presidential candidates as millionaires out of touch with normal people and their everyday lives.

“I'm a groundhog,” he pointed out. “Of course I can relate to normal people and their everyday lives.

“Just because I get a whole day on the calendar doesn't mean I don't know anything about everyday lives,” he continued.

“Me, I'm the down-to-earth candidate. I'm so down-to-earth that I live under earth. Romney and Gingrich couldn't dig a hole and live in it if their life depended on it,” he told the assembled media horde of one.

“I'm giving you the scoop,” he said, scooping up a paw of dirt and putting it in my shirt pocket.

But how would he fare in debates? After all, he's notorious for being afraid of his own shadow. That is Phil's one claim to fame.

“Yes, but the shadows of Gingrich and Romney don't scare me at all. If you were me, or they were me, or I were you,” he said, channeling the late, great John Lennon, “you and they and me would be scared of my shadow too.”

Phil then said that he had several other claims to fame-not just “the shadow thing”-but when pressed by the press declined to name them or provide even scant details about one of them.

The groundhog then sketched out some of the other qualities he would bring to The White House, other than not answering uncomfortable questions.

“I will end global warming the day I am sworn in,” he said. “I have the power to extend winter by six weeks or make spring come six weeks early, so global warming should be a piece of mud pie.”

When asked about defense, foreign policy, and the economy, he simply replied, “Yes.”

Asked to elaborate, Phil answered, “Yes, indeed.”

But are the American people ready for a groundhog to become President of the United States?

“After Warren Harding,” he said, “I think the American people can handle anything in the White House.”

And he's probably right about that.

“I think the bigger question is whether or not the American people are ready for a president whose first name is Punxsutawney,” Phil observed.

He may be right about that, too.

There has never been a president with a weirder first name than Punxsutawney.

Surely, Millard Fillmore and Rutherford B. Hayes would run a distant joint second, with Ulysses S. Grant a small speck way back in third place among notable first names.

And those first names aren't really too unusual.

President Punxsutawney Phil would have been relegated to the runner-up spot in overall name strangeness, however, if the presidential election 108 years ago had turned out differently.

Had Silas C. Swallow, running-with great irony-as the Prohibitionist candidate, won against Teddy Roosevelt in 1904 he would have had the best first and second name one-two combination in presidential history.

The Prohibitionist, President Swallow.

But are the American people really and truly ready for a groundhog as leader of the free world? Phil thinks so.

“I'm the center of attention in the United States of America on February 2 and nobody worries about that,” he philosophized. “Just think of every day as Groundhog Day.”

And if he loses?

“I'll just go back to my hole in the ground,” he said, “like every candidate should.”