I was devastated when I learned that David Bowie passed away last week at the age of 69. Growing up, Col. Dig Sr. placed a premium on fitting in and being normal. But like anyone who came of age in the freewheeling times of John Anderson, Mo Udall, and Erskine Bowles, Bowie taught me it was OK to be strange. If I had never heard “Dancing In The Street” or “Little Drummer Boy,” I shudder to think what kind of boring, lonely, impotent man I’d have turned out to be.
But I figure the old rock’n’roller wouldn’t want us to sit around and cry, so I’ve decided to commemorate his passing with a look at which chameleon-like Bowie personas best describe the 2016 Presidential hopefuls! First the Republicans:
Jeb Bush is Major Tom
Ground control to Major Jeb: your poll numbers are dead, there’s something wrong! Based on his debate performances, you might think cool aloof Jeb is floating out in space, passively smiling and shaking his head while the other candidates harass his wife and question his masculinity. But this is no time for a space ménage à trois. We’re commencing countdown to the Iowa Caucus, so take your protein pills… as long as they’re paleo!
Rand Paul is Jareth The Goblin King
While (barely) humanoid in appearance, Rand commands a vast swath of repulsive subterranean goblins who bring concealed-carry guns to their IT jobs in case the DEA wants to search their hard drive or restrict them from traveling to Thailand again. He wants out of this world populated by slightly lesser cretins, however, and attempts to use his powers of deceptive YouTubes and Tweets to fool voters. Then, according to the villain’s revolting plan, he can start anew in the White House. “All I’m asking is for you to love me,” Rand tells millennials. Tall order, shortstack!
John Kasich is Junkie Major Tom
If Jeb is “Space Oddity” Major Tom, wandering Ohioan John Kasich is certainly the delusional heroin addict Major Tom introduced in 1980’s “Ashes to Ashes.” Time and time again John Kasich tells himself he’ll “stay clean,” and not get thrown out of any Dunkin Donuts bathrooms or picked up by the vice squad for doing a “showtime” routine on public transportation. Despite his relapses, Kasich has a real shot in the New Hampshire primary, just like his old friend the Action Man (John McCain) did in 2008.
Donald Trump is The Thin White Duke
“A mad aristocrat.” “An emotionless Aryan superman.” “An amoral zombie” who makes Nazi salutes and goes on fascist rants and says that “Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars.” Tell me, superfans of CAFE’s “Who Said It?” quizzes: Am I talking about The Thin White Duke or the Republican frontrunner? With his trust fund, his bespoke suits, and his drug-addled and cold-hearted proclamations that the GOP base loves, the Donald is a dead ringer for this classic coked-out 70s Bowie persona.
Ted Cruz is The Man Who Fell To Earth
Much like David Bowie’s extraterrestrial, Ted Cruz was dropped here from the alien land of Canada on a mission to become President. Yet Ted is perplexed by us American humans and unable to forge a real emotional connection with another person because of his repulsive face and frightening voice. Finally, as aliens, neither Cruz nor the Man Who Fell To Earth is legally eligible to be President.
Ben Carson is Aladdin Sane
Turned into a veritable schizophrenic by his journeys through the flyover cesspool of middle America, the blind surgeon’s anguish, mania, and confusion is as audible in his speeches as it is on Aladdin Sane‘s title track.
Carly Fiorina is the Jean Genie
With a reptilian smile, a jaw that can crush razor blades, and a crazy ex’s obsession with stealing your dead hair, “Jean Genie” was practically written with ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina in mind. I shudder whenever I hear this song, as it conjures up images of Queen Carly in tight black denim clutching a riding crop and punishing me for never winning that Polk Award.
Marco Rubio is John from The Hunger
Constantly caught in love triangles that possibly produce hordes of illegitimate children, the youthful Floridian is a dead ringer for Bowie’s charming, ageless vampire in this 1983 cult classic. Marco’s huge appeal to young voters also mirrors the effect that the vampires of Twilight have on Millennials, except this politico uses Snapchats instead of fangs!
Chris Christie is Twin Peaks’ Phillip Jeffries
Bowie had a memorable cameo in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as raving and disturbed FBI agent Phillip Jeffries. I was never a huge Twin Peaks fan (was always more of a Booker guy), so here’s the Twin Peaks wiki: “Jeffries goes on to narrate in abstract fashion where he has been since his disappearance. He mentions names and incidents that are unfamiliar to those listening.” Sure sounds a lot like a certain former federal prosecutor who likes bragging about all the potential lone-wolves he’s indicted to me! Can’t say I remember any of those folks Christie put in supermax, but his ability to rattle off Muslim-sounding names sure is impressive.
Now it’s the Dems’ turn:
Bernie Sanders is Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ
A cynical and morally bankrupt greedy autocrat who is responsible for Christ’s death? Sounds like Bernie! Remember when Pilate taunts Christ that he’s “just another politician?” That is straight out of one of Bernie’s screeching tirades at Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley. Sorry, Bernie Pilate, but change is coming just like Willem Dafoe said, and it’s going be a return to respectability and bipartisanship.
Hillary Clinton is “Afraid of Americans” Bowie
Paranoid and pursued by a glowering man with a stupid haircut (Trey Gowdy/Trent Reznor), Hillary Bowie is on the run for the dozens of political murders she may or may not have committed. Her idiosyncratic blazers and sunglasses actually match well with Bowie’s from this era, and I imagine she’ll escape once again too!
Martin O’Malley is Screamin’ Lord Byron
Yes, he’s a verifiable rock star and has a 60 percent chance of being the next President of the United States, but he feels incomplete. We knew about Lord Byron’s roguish rockin’ ways just like we know all about O’Malley’s incredible Baltimore-specific accomplishments and beautiful daughter, but we’re just waiting to be filled in here.
Jim Webb is Ziggy Stardust
Both are otherworldly beings that capture arcane sexual energy and a message of hope for humanity. Sure, a few things from these higher beings may get lost in translation to earthlings, but their overall beauty both in form and substance will hopefully enrapture enough people to lead them to our long-awaited bipartisan utopia. Far out!
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @carl_diggler.