Depending on your age, John Ratzenberger is either the actor who played the beloved character Cliff Clavin on Cheers or some guy you saw at a Tea Party rally on Fox News bellowing about socialism. Sometimes with these actors, and I include Clint Eastwood in this, you have to wonder if their conservatism is a put-on…a form of performance art. In Ratzenberger’s case, my suspicion was driven by reading things he’d said about the Clavin character over the years. If you’re unfamiliar with the character, he was a know-it-all postman who spent all his free time on a barstool pontificating about arcane trivia of dubious validity and his many ridiculous conspiracy theories. He was, in effect, a total crank and pretty much a prototype for the kind of folks who later joined the Birth Certificate Brigades at the Obamacare is National Socialism rallies.

In this example, he completely disassociates himself from the character and calls him a wingnut.

On the Cheers 200th-episode special, host John McLaughlin asked Ratzenberger about Cliff Clavin. The actor replied that Cliff would describe himself as the “wingnut that holds Western civilization together”; however, Ratzenberger said he would describe Cliff simply as “a wingnut”. When McLaughlin asked Ratzenberger if there was any part of him in Cliff, the actor replied that although he was interested in fascinating facts the only part of Cliff in him was that they both wear white socks.

In this much earlier example from 1985, he describes the exact kind of Keyboard Commando we later became so familiar with in the Iraq War era:

Cliff is the kind of guy who wishes he’d been a combat Marine, but maybe he was nearsighted or had flat feet and became a mailman. He loves the respect he gets. […] As for women, Cliff is like the construction workers who whistle at women but turn to a quivering mass when they’re face-to-face with a woman. The greatest fear of men is that they won’t live up to their expectations.

Yet, somewhere along the line, Ratzenberger started acting like the exact kind of crank he portrayed on Cheers.

I had to wonder if it was a real metamorphosis or if he had perhaps fallen on hard times and discovered a way to get some attention and pay the bills. Or was it just an act?

But enough about Cliff Clavin. I only mention him because he’s the kind of voter who didn’t show up for Romney in 2012 and is expressing support for Donald Trump today. These voters are not ideological but they are mentally impaired. They actually think the birth certificate stuff makes sense.

Consider these results among people with a high school education or less in the latest Washington Post poll:

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If you take the Cliff Clavin vote away from Jeb Bush, he winds up polling twenty-one points behind Hillary Clinton.

So, I won’t be too upset if Trump gets fed up with the Republican Party and decides to run as an independent.

The only potential downside is that Trump will bring the Clavins out of the woodwork and make things harder on downticket races.

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