I want to know. You want to know. The whole world wants to know. What's the deal with the surprising retiring Republicans? Not age-related retiring, as in shawl on the lap watching the third DVD of the fifth season of "Matlock" with a glass of tepid tea on the side table. Retiring as in coy, reticent, withdrawn. Obviously, we are not speaking of those pesky majority members of the House - demure as an over-caffeinated grizzly on roller skates gallivanting down a fashion runway and, yes, that means you, Kate Moss.
This discussion specifically concerns the 2012 GOP presidential candidates; or, more precisely, lack thereof. That is not to say they aren't busy. Like the haunted topiary maze in "The Shining," the usual suspects can occasionally be spied skulking on the edge of your peripheral vision. Floating trial balloons with fingers in the air to see which way the wind blows. Dipping toes in the water to ascertain the temperature of shark-infested waters. Running position papers up flagpoles to determine which focus groups salute. Waiting for the other shoe to drop while creeping around barefoot playing the Crying Game.
Normally by this time in an election cycle, running against a vulnerable incumbent in a sluggish economy, you'd have about 80 gazillion candidates and their brothers scrambling, down-and-dirty in the mud biting each other's knees for supremacy in the all-important money scrum. This year, not so much. A variation on the old ‘60s bumper sticker: "What if they threw an election and nobody came?"
The situation has become so dire, NBC canceled a May 2 GOP presidential debate due to lack of interest. Not by the viewing audience. That's a given. The network's predicament was a lack of participants. A game of political chicken with everybody waiting for someone else to cluck first.
As if in a recurring bad dream, Newt Gingrich replicated a dodgy feint from yesteryear, calling a press conference to officially announce he may or may not be setting up an exploratory committee to talk to some people who might investigate the possibility of him perhaps considering making a run for the presidency later on, some day. Maybe. Why? Because America deserves decisive leadership, that's why.
ABC News compiled a list of 23 potential Republicans who have either talked about or are expected to take a flying leap at the brass monkey ring. Twenty-three. That's two entire football teams with room left over for Mike Huckabee to encourage them from the sidelines strumming "Pardon Me" on the guitar. But not one of the 23 has declared. So, since nature and billionaire blowhards abhor a vacuum, along comes Donald Trump, vowing to spend $600 million of his own money seeking the presidency. Which to you and me would be a nickel.
His plans predictably include running the country the way he would a business. Great. "America: You're Fired!" Then recruit underpaid immigrants to replace us as citizens. Accelerating the pace. As far as loose cannons go, Trump is a broken pallet of greased wheels on thin ice. The fount of many imponderables. Such as, having proven HE was born in America, what about that thing on his head? And does it require an antidote for when it stings? With armed forces at his disposal, how soon before the pre-emptive strike on Rosie O'Donnell?
• Will Durst is a comedian and political satirist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org