Rodents in the Reagan house 

City Sage

Sitting at the dining room table absorbed in the latest New Yorker a few evenings ago, I sensed a flicker of motion in the kitchen — a mouse! It's a fall ritual in our drafty west side Victorian. As soon as the weather changes, the mice come, multiply, invade cupboards, avoid traps for a while, and eventually succumb. I suppose that we should get a cat, or make a concerted attempt to identify and seal off points of entry or, if all else fails, hire a professional exterminator.

So now I know how my Republican friends feel. For decades, the quadrennial quest for the GOP presidential nomination was relatively dignified and decorous. Party grandees would quietly anoint the candidate-to-be, he would test his wits against a few callow upstarts, and the party would obediently choose a Bush, a Dole, a McCain or a Romney.

But now the Republican mice are running amok, chewing through cereal boxes, hiding under the sink, running across the dining room floor in broad daylight, leaving droppings everywhere. The party needs a tomcat, a tough feline that will send the mice scurrying away and restore order to the house that Ronald Reagan built.

GOPsters, pay attention; here's what you have to do!

First, shut down the official Republican Debate Club. It may be an interesting show, but it's terrible for the brand. Called Survivors in Suits, it diminishes candidates who are qualified for the presidency and elevates those who are not. Do you really think an empty-headed showman (Donald Trump) or an amiable know-nothing (Ben Carson) can lead the party and the nation? Don't give them and their peers free airtime.

Also, it may be OK to let the mice run amok in the early primary states, but don't give them national exposure. You complain about the media, but you created this bizarre circus. Aren't there some folks around who can bring order to chaos? As Casey Stengel despairingly said of his 1962 New York Mets, "Can't anybody here play this game?"

Let's have one of those secret conclaves that Republican power brokers love, featuring dozens of billionaire Super PAC funders. Pick a respectable candidate, shut off the money spigot to the rest of 'em, and get serious about November 2016.

You say you can't do that — you're too fractious and divided? What do you mean? You're Republicans! We want a business-friendly, successful, prudent, competent and intelligent candidate, not a bloviating crazy.

Last Friday saw the opening of Bob Jackson's remarkable show at Godec's Photo Supply. Bob took the iconic photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, and subsequently had a long and distinguished career as a news photographer.

The images on display include others taken on Nov. 23, 1963. For instance, here's President John Kennedy descending from Air Force One, and working a rope line as ferret-faced Secret Service agents warily look over the crowd. The president is wearing a perfectly tailored suit, slightly suppressed at the waist. Surrounded by lumpy, dough-faced politicians, he seems to symbolize our country's youth, vigor and optimism.

There are pictures of eager men and women who lined the streets of Dallas that morning, hoping for a glimpse of the president and his beautiful spouse. Tragedy waited.

One of the dough-faced men in the earlier picture would succeed JFK as president, and drag the country into the Vietnam War. Since Kennedy's death, reckless presidents of both parties have stoked or initiated foolish conflicts. Johnson, Nixon and George W. Bush, like the mice in my kitchen, were hard to get rid of and left messes for others to clean up.

Does it make sense for the GOP to nominate a blustering interventionist who wants to pick fights with Russia and China, or send troops to unspecified Middle Eastern locations? I understand that GOP primary voters like tough talk (Kennedy was pretty good at that, especially for a Dem!), but let's have someone with judgment.

Here's a step: Convene the billionaire summit at The Broadmoor. Before the meeting starts, amble on down to Godec's, and look at the Jackson show. Jack Kennedy was a war hero, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a congressman and a U.S. senator. Is there anyone of equivalent stature currently in the race? If not, get on the phone.

"Mitt, would you like a job as an exterminator ...?"

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