The Unbearable Lightness of Raj Peter Bhakta
Somewhere between farce and the absurd lies the congressional campaign of Raj Peter Bhakta.
The 30-year-old Montgomery County resident is running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Allyson Schwartz in Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District, which sits astride Northeast Philadelphia and the Montco suburbs.
Maybe the word "running" should be in quotes. In political terms, this is a laugher. Bhakta has no money, no visible party support, no new ideas and no chance.
The 13th was redesigned in the 2000 re-apportionment to tilt Republican. Instead, Schwartz, who is a freshman, is the runaway favorite. So it goes.
What Bhakta does bring to the table is celebrityhood, albeit a weak-tea version of it. He appeared on the television show "The Apprentice," in 2004, before being booted off by The Donald in episode seven.
Almost weekly, Raj displays for us the vast difference between being youthful and being juvenile.
Since he got the Republican nomination, Raj has been hamming it up, bringing his flair for self-promotion to bear on a variety of issues. First, he put the spotlight on crime. Now, it is on illegal immigration, though it's more accurate to say that the spotlight is always on Raj. It is the Reality-TV school of politics. In fact, in a exquisite example of life imitating art imitating life, Raj has had a camera crew following him. Their hope is to turn the Raj campaign into a reality TV series. My suggested working title: The Fool.
Given this background, why am I not surprised to see Raj in the news again, this time from the U.S.-Mexican border near Brownsfield, Texas making a point about illegal immigration -- with three elephants in tow, along with a six-piece mariachi band.
Let's pick up an AP dispatch about the stunt:
Bhakta paraded an elephant and the band through the water near the mouth of the Rio Grande along the Texas-Mexico border Tuesday.
"The elephant never made landfall into Mexico, but I tell you something, he could have made 15 laps back and forth, but no one showed up," Bhakta, a Republican, said in yesterday's Brownsville Herald.
Bhakta, who favors construction of a fence along the border, said he was in Brownsville to raise money with friends when he saw a half-dozen men swimming under one of the international bridges "with complete immunity" and decided to pull the stunt.
Circus producer James Plunkett said he had been hired for the photo shoot and had provided three elephants.
Plunkett said his crew had entered the Boca Chica beach area in Texas and remained for about an hour. The Border Patrol alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the elephants were detained and sprayed for ticks, then released, the newspaper reported.
Myself, I wish that Raj had been detained and sprayed for ticks, but there is no justice in life.