Take a look at the families of the Republican primary candidates, and at first it’s just the astounding quantity of children that stands out. It seems most of these candidates have been trying to validate their family values chops simply by competing to amass the largest family possible. Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum lead the pack with seven kids each, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Michele Bachmann each have five, although if you count all of Michele’s foster children, the number is somewhere in the thirties.

However, plumb a little deeper and it becomes difficult to ignore that these families are marked by qualities ranging from innocuously weird to legitimately sinister. Let’s take a look.

__The Bachmanns__

How does Michele Bachmann have time to sustain a warm, loving marriage while caring for her thirty foster children and pretending to have a doctorate degree? Some people really can have it all, I guess.

Though Michele and her crazy eyes are clearly the epitome of marital bliss, it is impossible to avoid mentioning that Marcus Bachmann, Michele’s husband, has the most stereotypically gay mannerisms of any man on earth. He overcompensates for this by running a clinic whose primary function is to cure the gays of their gayness; after all, according to him they are “barbarians that need to be educated.” Michele agrees; she has stated that involvement in the homosexual lifestyle is “personal enslavement.” But really, it’s no wonder that Marcus is evidently an expert at praying the gay away. It would appear he’s had lots of practice.

Michele has also gotten a hard time for once remarking, “Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” What’s that, you say? Being submissive doesn’t seem very compatible with executive office? Don’t worry, she went on to clarify when later questioned on this matter, being submissive isn’t the same thing as being subservient. Except for the fact that those words are synonyms.

__The Pauls__

Ron Paul and his son Rand are the first father-son duo to serve in Congress concurrently. As a libertarian Ron Paul instilled in Rand the importance of individual effort and taking initiative. This is probably why, when Rand’s ophthalmology certification from the American Board of Ophthalmology expired, Rand founded his own National Board of Ophthalmology and certified himself. Hey, no one ever said which board of ophthalmology you had to get certified by, right?

Ron Paul has been married to his wife since 1957; this may have something to do with the fact that he is an expert on vaginas. In fact, during his tenure as a gynecologist, he delivered more than 4,000 babies, so clearly he knows something about that stuff. If America is anything like a vulva, we are in good hands. Unless you don’t agree that going back to the gold standard is a good idea (you crazy thing), in which case we’re fucked.

__The Gingriches__

To say that the course of Newt Gingrich’s personal life is not consistent with the articulated values of his party is truly an understatement. First, he married his high school geometry teacher, with whom he first became involved when he was sixteen. He allegedly told her he wanted a divorce while she was hospitalized with cancer, but only after an affair with the wife of a colleague that took place, at least in part, in the passenger seat of his car. Apparently we live in a country where sexting is unforgivable but it’s okay to get a blow job from your mistress in your car like an overeager high school sophomore as long as you say you’re really, really sorry afterwards.

He remarried six months after the divorce was finalized, only to commence another affair with his current wife, Callista (third time’s the charm?), for whom he converted to Catholicism. The affair continued as Gingrich led the crusade against Bill Clinton. When asked about past transgressions, Newt answered that he made mistakes because he worked too hard. This seems reasonable, because really, who can be expected to control their dick when they’re working hard? That’s just unreasonable, unless you’re president or something, like Bill Clinton.

__The Palins__

Okay, I know Sarah isn’t running for anything, perhaps deterred by the failure of her reality television debut, but would a discussion of Republican families truly be complete without at least a mention of baby mama Bristol and the other members of the Palin brood, most of whom bear names that sound like styles of Barbour jackets? I think not.

__The Santorums__

Though not strictly related to Santorum’s own marriage, this needs to be said: someone has got to convince Santorum that gay sex is not analogous with bestiality. A man having sex with a man is not the same thing as a man having sex with a dog, because a consenting adult male is nothing like a dog. For one thing, it’s a lot harder to drive to Canada with a gay man strapped to the roof of your car. Otherwise Mitt Romney probably would’ve done it already.

__The Huntsmen__

Though Jon Huntsman might be the least obviously crazy and most oft ignored of this motley crew (despite that very weird motocross commercial he produced before fading completely into irrelevance), a look at the Huntsman family sort of looks like the likely future of the UN Security Council. One kid from India, one from China, and five white ones presumably conceived the good ole fashioned Mormon way.

He and his wife are high school sweethearts; he was initially attracted to her “exotic” southern accent. I guess when you’re from Utah you’re bound to have some interesting ideas about what the word exotic means. But the state of Huntsman’s functional marriage fades to the background because it is so frequently superseded by his struggle to be culturally relevant. According to a Politico article published early this year, one friend of Huntsman recalls getting an emergency call from Huntsman in which the presidential hopeful said, “It’s not a medical emergency but it’s a rock and roll emergency. The Foo Fighters are coming to town and we have got to get tickets.” I think account this was supposed to convince my fellow young people and me that Jon Huntsman is a Real Person who is In Touch and Does Cool Stuff, but mostly it just makes me question his taste, and possibly confirms my suspicion that he is a robot.

__The Perrys__

Rick Perry may not be much of a debater, and he may own a ranch with a racial slur in the name of it, and he may wear more makeup than a drag queen every time he appears on television, and he may have had a 2.5 GPA in college, but at least he hasn’t had a confirmed sex scandal yet. And he married his high school sweetheart, not his high school geometry teacher.

__The Cains__

When Herman Cain has time in his busy crotch-grabbing schedule he is busy wooing his wife, Gloria, who just doesn’t seem particularly excited about him as a person. If the story of their first date is any indicator of the state of their marriage, this is no surprise. After seeing a movie, Cain offered to buy his future wife dinner at a drive-in, only to discover upon arriving that he didn’t have enough money to pay for her, so he took her home instead. Cain’s management of his personal finances doesn’t give me much hope for his promises to salvage the economy with his 9-9-9 plan, but as he mentions constantly, Cain is a businessman with business experience. It’s in his nature, and that’s why he “needs to know all the facts.” Except when the facts have to do with Libya, the right of return, what a neocon is, the conservative stance on collective bargaining for public employees, or jokes that are acceptable to make about Mexicans.

But back to Gloria. It’s possible that she’s imitating Michelle Obama’s strategy of weird passive aggression; then again, it’s also possible that she just doesn’t like her husband very much. When asked by Greta van Sustern whether the young Hermanator was attractive, she responded, “he was okay.” Apparently, “he just talked all the time, and I just did not like that.” This ringing endorsement is not particularly reassuring, but never fear: Gloria insists that she knows “in her soul” that Cain couldn’t have sexually harassed all those women. Maybe he sang to her about it, like he did at that strange press conference. Who knows? The magic of Herman is something that I can’t wrap my head around. It’s some comfort that I’m not alone in this; Gloria doesn’t seem to get it, either.

…and last but not least,

__The Romneys__

Let’s hope Ann Romney isn’t as aggressively indifferent to poor Mitt as the Republican establishment, because if so that has some pretty dire implications for his sex life. Despite the anyone-but-Mitt attitude that has been persisting in the party throughout the primaries, things seem pretty peachy in the Romney family. Though he and wife Ann went through a rough patch when he was doing Mormon missionary work, before long they were reunited and having their first son, Taggart. Which begs the question, what the fuck is up with these names?

But there are more important issues to be dealt with here. Some attention needs to be paid to the sole member of the Romney family who cannot speak for himself: Seamus Romney. That’s right, the dog. How Seamus endured the 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario while strapped to the roof of the Romneys’ car is a question that warrants some serious thought (almost equally unsettling was the choice of Canada as a vacation locale). Romney was apparently unperturbed when the very windswept dog pooped all over the car; he simply hosed the vehicle down and hopped back behind the wheel to finish the trip.

This approach to problem solving is an unsettling one for a potential leader of this great nation. After all, with unsustainable entitlement programs and defense spending shitting all over the station wagon that is America, do we want a leader who will give the car a quick wash and ignore the root of the problem, or one who will take the difficult actions needed and let the poor dog ride in the back seat?

The contradiction here is so obvious it hardly needs to be said. For a party that places such emphasis on moral values and the centrality of marriage, shouldn’t a functional family life be a necessary qualification for candidacy? And yet the dysfunctional facts speak for themselves; if these candidates were held to such a standard, few if any would be left standing. So let’s hope for the GOP’s sake that the American people continue to focus on quantity, not quality, when it comes to these families. After all, the children are our future.

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