Rick Santorum is The Smiths, and Other Candidate/Band Analyses

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 13 2012 10:56 AM

Rick Santorum is The Smiths, and Other Candidate/Band Analyses

Earlier today, I compared a couple of the presidential candidates to bands that knew when to/when not to break up. A little extra thinking took the analogy to its next natural destinations.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Mitt Romney: Nickelback.


Inexplicably popular, with success rooted in an ability to repeat the same melodies again and again.

Rick Santorum: The Smiths.

They quit at exactly the right time, with only a slight fall-off in quality from the penultimate album to the final album. Fans were satisfied, but left hungry for various second acts.

Newt Gingrich: R.E.M.

A Georgia-based band that got important in the 1980s, broke big in the 1990s, and faded noticeably. They kept plugging on even after they lost a key member. (See: Gingrich's staff shake-up.) Only someone on the band's payroll would deny that they missed the sweet spot and took too long to retire.

Ron Paul: The Fall

A curiousity act that never has an enormous hit, never breaks out beyond the fan base, but maintains a 12 Disciples level of loyalty. (Thanks to Twitter user @nightafternight for this one.)

Rick Perry: Jobriath

Much-hyped 1970s glam star who called himself a "true fairy." Despite a massive advertising campaign, he was unable to covercome the fact that his music was pretty mediocre.

Michele Bachmann: Evanescence

A flashy and superficially important-sounding act that never recovered from the loss of its key songwriter/Ed Rollins.

Buddy Roemer: Roky Erickson/The 13th Floor Elevators

An undeniably talented, undeniably eccentric artist who burned out early, but was inevitably embraced by snobs with good taste.

Gary Johnson: Cypress Hill


I don't think I have to explain this one.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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