Are members of the Groucho Marx Family running for office?

by DR. ROBIN MCFEE September 29, 2016

This article is not meant to, or intended to be interpreted as a political endorsement, or lack thereof, of any political candidate. Family Security Matters takes no political point of view whatsoever.

Before I get started, let me be clear...I am not currently endorsing any of the following candidates in this article, except maybe Snoopy.


Speak about comedy that is looking, and sounding more like tragedy every day. Think about the election like March Madness.....325 million Americans and what we have, barring write in votes, is this final four...Hillary, Jill, Donald, and Gary. 

Maybe Vaudeville is a better analogy. A world dominated by slapstick, irreverent comedy, goofy characters. Consider the four people running for the highest office in the land, and one might argue, in the world - Groucho, Minnie, Harpo and Zeppo - aka Hillary, Jill, Donald, and Gary. Each represents a political party (Democrat, Green, Republican, and Libertarian respectively) that has garnered at least 4% of potential US voters according to national polls.

Let's start with the Green Party Candidate - Jill Stein, who might soon, by order of the court see her first name changed to "Alleged" over illegal activities categorized as criminal trespass. Jill might also be the first presidential candidate where her image will be on a campaign, and wanted poster at the same time. Does it strike anyone as a bit surreal (which is saying a lot when talking about this presidential election) that Jill Stein probably can't campaign in North Dakota without running the risk of being arrested? In this far out land of illusion, if Stein were to become president, it is likely her first act of office would be to pardon herself, and her running mate, who also doubled as her accomplice. Given her low polling numbers, maybe she should change her campaign strategy and rename her ticket as Bonnie and Clyde, or Butch and Sundance, or Thelma and Louise for the Green Party.

And this is the least bizzaro event concerning the cast of characters running for POTUS.

On to the Libertarian Party Candidate - Gary Johnson, who is clearly NOT Ross Perot! His recent antics and gaffs drove me to near insanity, and finding myself staring at an old wall hanging I bought many years ago in the United Kingdom...."Snoopy for Prime Minister." Honest to God in Heaven, I never thought I would live to see the day when a cartoon - Snoopy - would have more gravitas than a flesh and blood candidate - Gary Johnson. Which pains me to say, because I am a big fan of his running mate - my former governor, Bill Weld. Now HE has gravitas. Which begs the question, what is Bill Weld doing running with a guy who spends one interview talking like the village idiot, or my friends impaired Maltipoo. Believe it or not, Johnson, like my friend's dog, has his tongue hanging continuously on an interview. How can you take Elmer Fud seriously? His technique, or strategy, if one can call it that, during a major interview, beyond inane (dumb ass stupid?)  is an insult to patients of mine over the years, who actually had a speech impediment.

Making matters worse, if that is possible - Johnson didn't know the significance of Aleppo. To be sure, there are in the land of the mainstream media "gotcha" questions. Like what is the GDP and per capita buying power of Zaire and Paraguay, or who is the deputy assistant minister of education for the Czech Republic? But Aleppo is not a gotcha. Especially with Syria being a front page, high profile, significant geopolitical issue, one might expect the leader of the Libertarian Party - a guy running to become POTUS, a job that requires a foreign as well as domestic policy agenda - Johnson might read a paper, or recognize the name. I know election 2016 has set a very low bar, but still that was a no brainer. There are no do overs in Presidential politics. It would be like asking Eisenhower the significance of Seoul and Pyongyang.

Earning him a hat trick of missteps, when asked who his favorite foreign leader is, he named Vincente Fox. Seriously?! Mexico is hardly a beacon of inspiration - one could argue most former presidents of Mexico should be characters in a book on how not to lead a nation.

Moving on to the Democrats. Hillary, "never saw I lie I could not tell brilliantly, and get away with" Clinton, is a candidate who has more baggage than Imelda Marcus on a shoe buying expedition.  From her not being shot at in a war zone (but initially milking the battlefield experience), to her ineptitude with Benghazi (where Americans were being shot at on her watch), to the umpteen number of women vilified by her (so much for being a champion for domestic violence victims) after being (allegedly) abused by her husband, to her breech of national security, and dodging another bullet from the FBI otherwise known as Friends of Bill, Inc. to, well you get the idea....the list goes on and on and on.

Interestingly a friend of mine in Philadelphia told me a story about two candidates - Bernie, and Hillary. When news that Bernie Sanders was going to talk at the civic center (holds thousands of people) at Temple University, students camped out by the predawn hours to get a ticket. Contrast this with Hillary - she was scheduled to speak in a much smaller venue (holds a few hundred) at the same university, and tickets were easily available by the time she went on the podium. Not exactly Ms. Charisma, Hillary has failed to capture the imagination of youth who are not locked into the ideology of the DNC or dazzled by the celebrities who are endorsing her.

Then there's her "Weekend at Hillary's" episodes, capped off by her collapse during recent 9/11 memorial events. One had to wonder was she alive, or Memorex for those old enough to remember the commercials. Reminded me of Mrs. Kennedy who could be seen on the lawn of her Hyannis Compound every summer. There was something reassuring about seeing the grand old dowager. The only reason we knew the Matriarch of the Kennedy family was dead, the strings moving her arms broke - I wonder who is holding Hillary's strings making her look life like and alive?

And last, but not least there's the GOP candidate...."The Donald."  Sometimes his eponymous nickname has been a form of epithet, as demonstrated in an episode of Designing Women, where "The Julia" sides with one of The Donald's ex-wives, and dresses him down on the phone. To be sure he has created a persona, which is part bluster, part CEO.  From the hair to the NY Street Kid bravado, one is left to wonder about his gravitas, a net worth of billions, and developer of amazing properties notwithstanding. He has made it easy for the media to make him a caricature. At a time when the women's vote is critical, coming off like a chauvinist, is not the brightest thing to do, whether the image is based on reality or not.

Clearly part of that caricaturiazation is on a media decidedly partisan, and part of it rests on the candidates shoulders for giving them the low hanging fruit to try and poison him.

It drives me crazy when a candidate has foot in mouth disease, and The Donald certainly does from time to time. Hillary exploits his errors. Sun Tzu would be proud of the DNC....never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake.

The old saying our weakness is our strength...his unvarnished approach to life and politics clearly plays well on his reality show, and in his ability to demolish 16 other Republican contenders, many of which could have been good candidates. But Trump, for all his success, has had some failures, which have hurt some people in the wake of bankruptcies. His flip dismissal of those as merely using the laws available to savvy businessmen feeds the anger many feel towards corporations that often do hurt the little guy. It might be better to show some humility and empathy, instead of bravado when asked about the bankruptcy laws. 

Moreover as a counter-puncher, The Donald has forgotten the cardinal rule of negotiation....LISTENING. Unfortunately, Donald has a button that can be pushed easily, and his predictable responses, not to mention being sometimes easily distracted, can be costly. All of which reveal a political inexperience readily exploited by practiced debaters such as Hillary.

Then there's the name calling - whether justified, funny, or meant innocently - they open the door for character debate, and can also be toxic. At a time when the country needs someone to look up to, the name-calling does not inspire.


So there you have it - the four Marx family members of election 2016. Hardly the fearsome foursome of Vikings fame that led to great victories, And hardly the four horsemen of the apocalypse, although that might be closer to the truth! Given the foibles, frailties, failures, felonies (alleged) and findings associated with these four, one has to wonder will the Republic, will our great nation, remain as such under Jill, Gary, Hillary or Donald?  If so, which one can best lead us? Is honesty more important than experience? Is entrepreneurialism what we need for a stalled economy? Is the two party system so toxic that maybe a different path is the answer?

Leaving the land of Variety for a moment - although a good comparison, members of the Marx Family aren't running for office. Instead, we have four wild cards who are. With a group of voters who are increasingly partisan, but not increasingly wise, learned, or educated about the issues or the candidates beyond social media, partisan newspapers and biased TV commentators, along with juvenile sound bites, the real question remains, will this Vaudeville act become the new norm in American politics? From where I sit, be prepared for four years of "The Marx Family Goes to Washington!"

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Dr. Robin McFee, MPH, FACPM, FAACT, is a physician, and clinical toxicologist. As medical director of Threat Science - and nationally recognized expert in WMD preparedness, she consults with government agencies, corporations and the media. Dr. McFee is the former director of the Center for Bioterrorism Preparedness (CB PREP) and bioweapons - WMD adviser to the Domestic Security Task Force, the former chair of the Global Terrorism Council of ASIS International, and a member of the US Counterterrorism Advisory Team. She has coauthored two books: Toxico-Terrorism by McGraw Hill and The Handbook of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Agents, published by Informa/CRC Press    


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