SNL on the Candidates

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 9 2011 9:34 AM

SNL on the Candidates

Saturday Night Live sketches about the presidential candidates played an outsized role in defining them in 2000 and 2008 -- not so much in 2004. The first sketch of the 2012 presidential cycle didn't really capture the feeling of this election at all, which probably just indicates that real humans aren't paying attention to it. The election, in one form of popular opinion, is between a bunch of outsized personalities led by Donald Trump.

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The actual event that happened last week is dealt with in an afterthought by Shepard Smith (Bill Hader). "The debate included Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and I'm going to stop right now before I fall asleep!" The candidates who are already running (or exploring) and polling, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, are totally undefined -- Romney is a plastic emotional wreck, and Gingrich doesn't actually want to do anything. Missed opportunities! Gingrich circa 2011 is a loquacious slogan machine who quotes philosophers and historians to make his points (largely Camus and Orwell). Santorum always seems five or six seconds away from flying off the handle. Gary Johnson is -- come on, he's Gary Johnson! Is the argument against making fun of him or Cain that they're just to easy to parody?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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