Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Santorum Stumbles, Attempts to Right Himself

Rick Santorum has consistently proven himself smarter in defeat than in victory. From the beginning of this colossal snafu they’re calling the GOP primary, Mr. Santorum had kept his demon-fearing religious psychoses well hidden, and seemed most of the times normal, generally rational – for a Republican – and occasionally charming. All of that changed, of course, a few weeks ago, after he won three caucus states on one day and catapulted to a double digit lead over Mitt Romney in national polls.

Then we saw the real Rick Santorum. The one who fears birth control for the evil it represents. The one who tastes vomit in the back of his throat at the concept of the separation of church and state. The one who thinks multiple college degrees are peachy for him, but not so great for the masses. The one who seemed to be working overtime to singlehandedly alienate the largest voting demographic in America: women.

Mr. Santorum’s national poll numbers plummeted from plus-12 over Mr. Romney to minus-5. That’s a 17-point turnaround in three weeks. He went from being the favorite in Michigan to losing by 3 points. Not even the most crazed right-wing zealot can blame his collapse on the "liberal media elite establishment," or whatever they’re calling the people who report what the candidates have said and what the candidates have done. Mr. Santorum has effectively sunk his own ship, without the help of Michael Moore, or Bill Keller at the New York Times, or whoever is calling those damnable liberal media elite shots.

Now, in defeat, Mr. Santorum is tentatively moving back toward the strengths that made him the most credible non-Romney in the GOP pack. In his concession speech Tuesday night he talked about the strong women in his life, all of whom have college degrees apparently (snobs!), and he avoided weighing in on Jews in limbo, whether fetuses should be allowed to drive, or how many angels can lindy-hop on the head of a pin. He focused on economic matters, giving the standard Republican prescription for curing all our ills: Rip the planet to shreds, frack it all, by jiminy, from sea to shining sea, and devil take the hindmost. In other words, the cagy, politically savvy Rick Santorum is back. The one who actually wants to win this thing.

He still has a shot. Mr. Romney currently leads in delegate count 142 to 59. (We must note here that we are using Real Clear Politics for our count. Every site varies in how it tallies this thing, as the degree of wiggle room in delegate count is wide enough for Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie to walk through hand-in-hand. Between soft and hard delegates, non-binding and binding primaries and caucuses, promised delegates from candidates who have dropped out of the race, and sundry other factors, there is no hard and fast count as of yet, but the proportional differences are roughly the same in all the major counts.) Super Tuesday stacks up not so shabbily for Mr. Santorum, and our very rough predictions place a plausible delegate count a week from now as follows:

Romney: 257
Santorum: 224
Gingrich: 128
Paul: 37

We predict Mr. Santorum will be in a very close second place following next Tuesday’s primaries, where 437 delegates are up for grabs in a clutch of states, narrowing the gap considerably. His anticipated success is dependent, of course, on his ability to return to the strategy which got him into the race in the first place: Stay mum about who Rick Santorum really is, and what Rick Santorum really thinks, and what Rick Santorum really will do if given the power he so really, really craves.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Michigan: Please, Please Vote Rick Santorum!

Alas and alack.  It looks as though Mitt Romney will win Michigan, and it's certain he'll win Arizona.  We are in a grand funk this morning, as Rick Santorum thrilled us to our very toes.  He is everything we have ever wanted in a Republican candidate.  He is an absolute delight, distilling everything we despise about the GOP into one pear-shaped sweater vest. 

It's not gonna happen, though.  Even Republicans -- yes, even Republicans -- sense he's a wacko.  The Man Who Would Be King would sink them so thoroughly this November that the havoc G.W. Bush caused would seem childlike by compare.  Down-ballot voting nationwide would be so overwhelming that the Great Democratic Hegemony would begin in earnest, were the Insane One to lead their party this November.

He kept it under wraps for months.  He stayed away from sex and bestiality, birth control and the evils of public school...until he took the lead in the polls.  It went to his head, as it does with all these blowhards, once they get a little wind in their sails, and then he let it rip.

On President Obama's goal to increase the number of Americans with access to college education?  "What a snob."  That's a direct quote there.  Mr. Santorum -- who possesses a B.A. in political science, and MBA, and a law degree -- is calling Barack Obama a snob for wanting to increase access to higher education for more Americans.

We understand what he's doing.  He's playing to the hoi polloi base of the GOP, trying to get the smugly satisfied down-home vote.  Republicans have always played better in the heartland -- some obese moron in Kansas sees a Democrat, and he hears "Maybe you should drop a few pounds, maybe read a book."  The Republican, on the other hand: "You're just fine the way you are.  And the only book you'll ever need is the Bible."

Mr. Santorum is unelectable in a general election.  He wants to make birth control illegal.  John Kennedy's speech on the separation of church and state made him "want to vomit."  He accuses Barack Obama of wanting to make you "in his own image" because he's all for giving more Americans a chance at higher education.  Rick Santorum is unabashedly and uncompromisingly unelectable.

Which is, or course, why we love him, and wish the GOP would vote their deepest beliefs, rather than their vaguely rational sense that Mitt Romney would stand a better chance in the general. 

Mr. Santorum was leading in Michigan up until the past week.  A combination of Mr. Romney's money -- in the form of negative ads -- and Mr. Santorum's inability to disquise his insanity has almost sunk his chances there.  With a close victory in Michigan, and a blowout in Arizona, where he leads by 13 points, Mr. Romney will have the momentum to all but ice this thing after the Super Tuesday primaries March 6.

Damn, Rick, why couldn't you have played your cards a little closer to your vest?  We knew you were nuts -- we remember you from your senatorial days -- but not everybody else knew it.  Until now.

Alas.  Alack. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Romney/Paul -- Dream Ticket, Or Doom?

Michigan and Arizona primaries are Tuesday, and Mitt Romney has been in damage control in his home state after principal challenger Rick Santorum took the polling lead there and held it for a couple weeks.  
To mangle S.E. Hinton – that was then, and this is now. A poor performance by Mr. Santorum in the Arizona debate last Thursday hurt him, perhaps irreparably.  He now trails Mr. Romney by 6 points in Michigan, and 13 points in Arizona. 
Mr. Santorum’s day might be done.  The hubris of the true believer raised its head as soon as he took a national lead over Mr. Romney, and he let it all hang out, letting all the world see his Opus Dei extremism for what it is.  With a nation of women in their ovulating years prepared to vote overwhelmingly Democratic this election cycle (there’s a pun in there somewhere), Mr. Santorum’s Medieval views on birth control (the rhythm method, basically) pretty much sink him nationally. 
Even Republicans – somewhere in the murk of their reptilian brain stems – can figure out that a Santorum/Father Flanagan ticket in November might cost them the House and the Senate as well as the White House, and we expect they will come to their senses and go with Mr. Romney – pretty damn quick, too.  As in, by the end of Super Tuesday, on March 6.
With 59 total delegates up for grabs this coming Tuesday, Mr. Romney stands to grab the lion’s share.  Arizona’s 29 delegates are awarded in winner-take-all fashion, and in Michigan Mr. Romney, even if he basically ties with Mr. Santorum, will hold his own. 
Ron Paul realizes that this nomination belongs to the Romney camp.  Dr. Paul and Mr. Romney have been BFFs for months now, with the Mushy Mormon constantly showing polite deference to Dr. No, and with the good doctor consistently attacking each serious Romney challenger to rear up from the slime.  They did as much at the debate last Thursday, effectively sealing Mr. Santorum’s fate.
We, along with much of the blogosphere, must ask: What is Dr. Paul angling for with his buddy-pal approach vis-à-vis Mr. Romney?
Speculation abounds, with our favorite being that Mr. Romney is dangling a vice presidential slot before the flaring nostrils of KY Senator Rand Paul.  (He’s from Kentucky, but we like KY – he just looks like a KY Senator to us.)  Parenthood trumps integrity every time, and though it seems Mitt Romney should be the embodiment of everything Dr. Paul despises in a flip-flopping fakey-fake conservative, the VP thing for li’l Rand might just work for him.
It might help Mr. Romney, too.  For one thing, the father and son names are similar enough that plenty of Paul supporters might jump on board the Romney/Paul ticket.  That bump could be mitigated by Rand Paul’s basic amateurism politically – he is capable, for instance, of bad-mouthing the Civil Rights Act, letting all the good folks of Amerika know he wouldn't have voted for it -- which in a sane world would render one DOA in national politics.
But we are in Republican land, for the nonce, and Rand Paul might just look peachy-keen to a tired old fella like Mr. Romney.  My goodness, Sen. Paul might even energize the Romney campaign in the same way Sarah Palin propped up Old Man McCain four years ago.
We are going all in on the idea of a Romney/Paul ticket for the GOP.   We’re committed to it.  At least for the next 48 hours.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What We Learned from the GOP Debates, Part 1

First: They were a mistake. For the Republicans.
Republicans do best when they’re not speaking.  They’ve been speaking quite a bit for the past six months and, as a result, Barack Obama’s approval rating keeps going up.
Another unanticipated side effect of the “talking cure,” GOP style, has been the realization by Republican voters that they don’t like any of their candidates.  (This is one area of agreement we have with Republicans.)  None of the candidates can seal the deal with primary voters because, to use a technical term, they suck.  Everybody on their side knows it, and everybody on their side will continue to hope for a boffo candidate to come out of nowhere and assume the mantle at the last minute.
Problems with that scenario, too – the potential saviors aren’t that great, either, from that shockingly obese fella from New Jersey to the guy whose last name is Bush.  (That’s how desperate they are – they keep coming back to a guy named Bush.)
The more they talk, the more they – and their audience – show the rest of us what they’re all about: racism, misogyny, homophobia, and gun-fetishism.  That’s about it.
They really blew it by talking so much, and they realize the need to stop – word from Republican National Committee higher-ups has it that the debates are being shut down, and right damn fast.
Mitt Romney still has a shot at the White House, provided he stop talking extemporaneously and “control his message.”
A TV ad that “controls his message” would look something like this
Mitt Romney stands before a billowing American flag.  Voice Over by Fred Thompson: “When Mitt Romney was born, gasoline was 20 cents a gallon….  With Barack Obama as president, gasoline is 5 dollars a gallon….  Vote for Mitt Romney….  Vote for 20-cent a gallon gasoline….”  Fade to Black.
There you go.  And now it’s time for the Great Debates to fade out, too.  It was fun seeing what Republicans are all about, getting a glimpse behind the curtain.  They showed us unbelievable ignorance: Bachmann, Cain, and Perry.  Shocking hubris: Gingrich.  And homophobic, sexually twisted weirdness we thought was limited to psychology textbooks: Santorum.  And Mitt Romney.  Who’s just annoying.  (We are ignoring Ron Paul because every Ron Paul supporter we know tells us “He’s not really a Republican.  He’s a Libertarian.”  We’ve come to accept that premise, and it’s natural conclusion to not consider him in the context of a Republican primary contest.)
The “merely annoying” will probably be the best the GOP can hope for this election cycle.  And if they can keep their man on-script, avoid alienating every woman voter who is still in her ovulating years, and get lucky with the economy tanking, they might still have a shot at getting close enough in the vote count to steal a couple key states.
They have a chance.  But only if they shut down these debates – now.
Fade to black.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big Night, Big GOP Debate, Big Questions for the Big Three

It seemed for a time that every other GOP primary debate was being labeled the Must-Win Battle of the Primary for one or another of the candidates. This time around, though, those words are true for arguably three of the four who remain.

Each of the big three – Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich – have everything to lose and a world to gain at Wednesday’s CNN debate in Mesa, AZ. Perhaps not a whole world to gain, but at least a Republican presidential nomination.

One of the three – Newt Gingrich – is adrift in space and low on oxygen. He desperately needs to use the bully pulpit of this debate forum to get his mojo back, and get a bit of buzz buzzing. He killed his own buzz during and shortly after the Florida primary when he went in attack mode on the press, kicking them off his plane and kicking them again verbally when they came crawling back around. They’re not covering his campaign much these days. Imagine that. (Debate question we offer to moderator John King: Start by asking Mr. Gingrich about the threesome he tried to make happen a dozen years ago including then-wife Marianne and then-mistress Callista. Just to see how Newt reacts. Could be priceless.)

Newt comes into the debate with a chip on his shoulder the size of a plate of grits. (Embarrassing, but it’s the most expedient Southern allusion we can come up with off the cuff.) His rivals bailed on him for the March 3 debate slated for Atlanta, GA. He was really, really counting on that one to gin up his supporters in his home state – and the other candidates decided to cut him off from that lifeline. Expect him to rip into the others for "not playing fair," or however he’s going to describe it. Also, expect him to belittle Rick Santorum for basically being younger than him.

Mitt Romney needs to get his "supporters" back (if you can use such a strong term for their relationship to him). How he’ll do that is an open question – a term we realize sums up Mr. Romney entirely. Today he’s attacking President Obama for trying to institute some sort of godless secular state. What a brilliant idea. Wonder where he got that one. (We’d like to see John King ask him about that dog he strapped to his roof once. Then zing him with a Cayman Islands question. Something innocuous. Does he have a favorite hotel/restaurant combo down there? Something in the under-three-grand-a-night range?)

Mr. Romney’s "supporters" are bailing on him again. They’re currently trying out Rick Santorum. (One of these days we expect them to flock to Gary Johnson, just for the hell of it.) He’s losing to Mr. Santorum even in his home state of Michigan. It’s sad. Kind of.

Rick Santorum has to keep from going full-on, triple XXX Papal in front of a national audience. We’re not sure he can keep from it. We get the sense he thinks it’s the winning ticket for him, kicking ass and naming saints. We’d like John King to throw him some theology softballs, let Mr. Santorum riff on Jews in limbo, the hawking of papal dispensations, and why women are so dang sinful. Frankly, Father Santorum is confused. He’s popular because he’s not Mitt Romney, not because he wants to ignite the Catholic equivalent of jihad on an unsuspecting America.

We don’t know what John King should ask Ron Paul. Nothing, probably, just let Dr. Paul talk about fiat currency for his allotted time.

The one debate question we actually would like to see asked:

Of the two most recent presidential administrations, that of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, which do you think was most successful, and why?

The last candidate we recall praising George W. Bush was Michele Bachman. Look what happened to her. It would be wonderful, though, to hear these fine men, stout and true, all with that dreaded "R" after their names, have to defend the worst president of the past hundred years. They would find a way not to, of course, flipping the question to attack President Obama, or jumping back a few decades to chant "Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan" like prep-school Hare Krishnas. The Voldemort of the campaign, He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken, would once again be ignored.

Or maybe they'd embrace their once-beloved former president.  Either way, it'd be fun to watch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

State of the Race on Presidents Day: Romney Sinks; Santorum Sticks; Paul to Play Kingmaker

In the national GOP primary polls Rick Santorum has catapulted to a substantial lead over Mitt Romney. In the upcoming states, however, the numbers contract, with Mr. Romney’s substantial money advantage coming into play as he outspends Mr. Santorum on TV and radio ads in those specific states.

Nationally, Mr. Santorum leads Mr. Romney by 10 points in the latest Gallup poll, while in Michigan he leads by 2 points. In Arizona, Mr. Romney maintains a slight 3-point lead. Mr. Romney’s money advantage might give him small victories in both states, but our sense is that it will be a split, with the candidates flip-flopping for first and second place in the two states.

None of this is good news for Mitt Romney. In the 6-month game of whack-a-mole he’s been playing, Rick Santorum is the latest nemesis to pop his head out of the dirt. We suspect Mr. Romney’s whacking arm is getting tired. Now, with Donald Trump stumping for him in Michigan, his common sense must be questioned in his choice of relief-whacker.

Donald Trump? Does anybody like that guy? Even Republicans?

Maybe Republicans do. They’re an odd lot – witness the co-chair of Mitt Romney’s Arizona campaign, Paul Babeu, the Pinal County sheriff who has gained national political notoriety out of coming down hard on illegal immigrants. (Please note that the entendres throughout the next paragraph or two are unintentional and unavoidable. Pinal County, for instance. That really is the name of the county.) Sheriff Babeu has recently come out as a gay man, not, however, because he’s loud and proud, but because he was forced to do so by his Mexican immigrant boyfriend. After Sheriff Babeu had threatened to deport the guy. Ah, the course of true love ne’er did run smooth....

In addition to stumping for Mr. Romney, the good sheriff had been running his own congressional campaign, playing the usual cards of extreme right-wing rhetoric – tough on illegal immigrants, loves him some guns, family values, etc. We wish him the best of success with his campaign, which he is apparently vowing to continue, even as he steps down from chairing Mr. Romney’s Arizona campaign.

So, Mr. Romney has Donald Trump stumping for him in Michigan, and Sheriff Babeu, who seems to be using the deportation threat as a pick-up line, was his most prominent presence in Arizona. (Again, Donald Trump? Wasn’t George W. Bush available?) Can Mr. Romney still win this nomination?

A few days ago we would have thought Mr. Santorum now had the best chance to win. Then we remembered what Mr. Santorum is all about – he showed us, castigating President Obama this weekend for not being sufficiently Christian, for not using "Bible theology" as a template for governing, and for not governing in ways that coincide with Church teaching. Ah, we remember now – Mr. Santorum is an extremist right-wing Catholic zealot. Among a general election electorate that boasts a majority of women, Mr. Santorum’s anti-contraception, anti-birth control, anti-prenatal screening rhetoric dooms him to lose in the fall.

We suspect the GOP primary delegate count will be split sufficiently such that none of the candidates have the necessary number to clinch the majority. At the ensuing brokered convention, Ron Paul will make a deal with Mitt Romney, transferring his delegates in exchange for – something. A promise that will never be delivered: an audit of the Federal Reserve, or rollback of the Patriot Act, something that will sound good to his supporters and will doubtless never happen. It will never happen because Mr. Romney we suspect is not so good about keeping promises, and also – Mr. Romney will lose, badly, to the only sane candidate among the contenders.

Happy Presidents Day, Mr. President.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rick "The Inquisitor" Santorum Knows What's Good for You

The increasingly Medieval edicts of Rick Santorum should not surprise. He is an extremist Opus Dei-supporting Catholic (you know, the bad guys in "The Da Vinci Code"), and the bull he spreads (as in papal) includes the condemnation of sex for any purpose other than procreative. And now: his pronunciamento on Barack Obama’s religious beliefs.

We anticipated Mr. Santorum’s degeneration to his jesuitical roots, but we weren’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

In Mr. Santorum’s pre-Enlightenment worldview, one must not only be Christian in order to serve in politics, one must be sufficiently Christian according to the extreme right wing of the extremist party hitherto termed Republican. A belief in human-caused climate change, in Mr. Santorum’s archaic labyrinth of non-thought, or an acknowledgment of the obvious fact of evolution, places one beyond the pale and unfit for public office. (Briefly on evolution: Talk to the dog breeders. Let them tell you about the dramatic variations in breeds in just the past century. Now get your mind around species variation over the course of hundreds of millions of years. This thing is not that complicated to grasp.)

According to Mr. Santorum, Barack Obama’s "agenda" (they love that word) is based on a "different theology," not a "Bible theology." We were unaware that one had to base one’s governing priorities on a "Bible theology," and we are not quite sure what those priorities would look like. Could mean anything from smiting one’s enemies to loving them – a lot of wiggle room there. Could mean anything from not eating shellfish to not suffering a witch to live, which we are fairly certain Mr. Santorum would have no problem with. Burning the wiccans, that is. He probably likes shellfish.

Mr. Santorum trots religion out front and center in his bid for the White House. Fine by us. The right-wing fundamentalists – Christian, Jewish and Muslim, all of whom have more in common with each other than they do with us normal-types – are diminishing in terms of overall percentage of the population, albeit slowly, century after century. From a peak of nearly 100 percent, in, say, the 13th century, the number of Christians in European countries continues to drop and drop. The number of fundamentalist Christians go down even more dramatically over the long sweep of history. We live in a post-Enlightenment world, and they know they are besieged by reality. If they want to rally around their birth control-hating lover of the antediluvian, they are welcome to. We encourage it. Please do make Mr. Santorum your candidate, Republican primary voters. This November the majority of us "normies" will support a party of sense and sensibility, and delight in the great sweep of victory that includes down-ballot candidates across the land.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Debate Canceled: Moon Base Gingrich Low on Oxygen

The Super Tuesday primaries are make-or-break time for Newt Gingrich. He will probably go bust and go bye, but should he pull off a win or two during the 10-state extravaganza his campaign will receive a boost of life support – and maybe even a little press.

Press is one thing Mr. Gingrich has not received much of recently, and we feel we have a good idea why. To reduce it to the basics: His incessant castigation of members of the press most likely has something to do with the lack of coverage. Imagine that.

Back during the Florida primary Mr. Gingrich made the "liberal media elite" Public Enemy No. 1 in his attempt to woo the calcified right wing of his party. It is a truism among those folks that the press has "got it in for us," with Them Evil Journalists regularly asking such unfair and below-the-belt questions of GOP politicians as "What magazines do you read?" and "Is it true the National Restaurant Association paid out monies to women who made sexual harassment claims against you?" Despicable. Despicable, I say. That’s how the righties look at it, anyway.

Mr. Gingrich scored a few cheap points with the know-nothing crowd by castigating the press, kicking them off his campaign plane, masterfully and snarkily putting them down during his press conference after his Florida defeat, generally making life miserable for them. A few troglodyte supporters loved it, with the general refrain being, "Ha, shows them smartie-farties – who needs them, anyway?"

Remarkable how Gingrich news coverage has plummeted recently.

Free advice to politicians, especially those low on money: You really need all the free press you can get. You get less of it by constantly attacking the press. Believe it or not.

Is there anything about that truism that’s complicated?

The latest post to buckle in the Gingrich tent is the cancellation of the March 1 CNN debate in his home state of Georgia. Gingrich really needs to win Georgia, the only state where he is currently leading by a substantial margin. His poll numbers there have been dropping, from a 20-point lead a month ago to a 14-point lead two weeks ago to a 9-point lead last night. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul declined to attend the debate, citing scheduling conflicts during the busy pre-Super Tuesday days, and Rick Santorum quickly followed suit. We suspect an awareness that the Georgia crowd would be predominantly pro-Gingrich has more to do with the candidates’ decision than any sort of scheduling conflict – a positive debate performance there could resuscitate Mr. Gingrich’s campaign. (This gamesmanship by the Romney camp might be a mistake for him. He frankly needs Mr. Gingrich in the race, pulling votes from Mr. Santorum. Mr. Romney is showing that he is not much shrewder than Mr. Gingrich at Grand Strategy. Kudos by the way to Mr. Santorum, who is moving into frontrunner status while working with very little money – if he can stay smart and not let the recent cash infusions go to his head he has a real shot at winning this primary.)

Deprived of further oxygen – free debates and free press – we suspect that Moon Base Gingrich will not function much longer. We assume he had fun while it lasted. We would miss him, but we have heard his voice and seen his face so little recently that we have a hard time remembering any telling features about him...just a plump, space-suited figure in the distance, floating away...cut loose from Alpha Base One, untethered to any life support, receding distantly toward the stars.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More Good News for Obama Supporters; Contraception and Common Sense

Much to be happy about in the headlines the past couple days: the GOP has folded on the payroll tax cut, an overwhelming majority of Americans support the White House on the ginned-up "contraception controversy"; Mitt Romney’s numbers are collapsing nationally.

Republicans have fought a losing battle for months trying to kill the payroll tax cut to the middle class. We knew they were on the ropes when they tried desperately a few days ago to change the words that were being used – no longer referring to it as a tax "cut," but rather a tax "holiday." They obviously don’t want to be perceived as opposing a "tax cut," but rather than get on board with the president – which they categorically refuse to do in all situations – they have tried to change the name of what they’re opposing.

Republicans are usually very good at these word games, changing the names of things and disseminating their misinformation through their echo chamber of right wing radio shills and lapdog Congress members. We remember, for instance, when the Estate Tax became, through GOP semiotic gamesmanship, the "death tax."

The payroll tax cut benefits the working class. Therefore, the Republicans oppose it – they only go to bat for tax cuts when it benefits the wealthy. They’ve finally folded in their opposition, and even Paul "Mad Dog" Ryan admits today that the GOP was harmed by the debate.

We actually like the new term they came up with in the death throes of their anti-middle class struggle, and we hope it lives on. The Bush tax cuts shall henceforth be termed the Bush Tax Holiday for Wealthy People. It is time for the super-rich to return from their lengthy holiday and show a little pro-American, patriotic grit by paying their fair share, which they did during the Clinton era – the last time we had a balanced budget.


The GOP has explicitly shown their odd, Medieval mindset over the ginned-up "contraception controversy." They would like to convince their minions that the White House is "anti-religion," so they grab at anything that might even remotely support their intentional fallacy.

Hence, the "contraception controversy."

Not to recount the entire history of the "controversy," but to cut to the chase, current polling data indicates that two-thirds of Americans support the White House’s sensible position that health care plans should include birth control options. Yes, even for people who might happen to work in a Catholic-run establishment, a hospital or college, for instance. The birth control, remember, is optional. Nobody is making anybody get on the pill, or wear a condom, or insert something somewhere, or whatever it is the right-wing zealots are all het up over.

The demagogues of the right tried to gin this bit of nothing into a mighty furor, with the argument that the slippery slope on which it would place Our Holy Republic would lead inevitably to President Obama personally throwing Tim Tebow to ravenous lions while the rest of us chant "Hail Satan" from the stadium stands. (We would like to pause to note that we have managed to file thirty days of columns in a row without mentioning Mr. Tebow’s name. We are certain we can beat that record.)

With the new polling numbers staring every GOP politician in the face, we suspect the furor will die down to few voices other than members of the Westboro Baptist Church, sundry Vatican officials, and the elderly, allegedly celibate Catholic bishops who feel compelled to weigh in on what they would have us think is a primary topic of expertise for them.

Modernity: 1; The Medieval: 0


Mitt Romney’s campaign seems to be collapsing under the weight of his monolithic dullness. When a lightweight zealot like Rick Santorum can pass him in the polls, we have to wonder, something...actually, we don’t know how to end this sentence. The whole damn thing just makes us wonder.

Yes, Rick Santorum manages to combine the light-in-the-loafers and the dangerously zealous – all in the same little pear-shaped sweater vest. It’s quite a remarkable disconnect he embodies. We don’t know whether to fear him or despise him. Now he’s polling ahead of Mitt Romney in Mr. Romney’s home state of Michigan. Go figure.

We suspect Mr. Romney will still eke out his party’s nomination, but it is quite obvious they don’t like him all that much. Good luck with that in the general election, Republicans. But we would rather see Mr. Santorum win the primary. He combines and distills so much of what today’s GOP is all about – K Street lobbying, fear of the feminine, home "schooling," a fixation on homophobia combined with a strangely well-scrubbed "nice boy" image that just makes you wonder.... He would offer a compelling contrast with our president. Whose approval rating continues to surge. More good news, more miserable times on the right side of the aisle, and may it all continue for many, many more months.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mitt, They're Just Not That Into You

Happy Valentine’s Day to Rick Santorum, the current sweetheart of the condom-hating mystics we call the Republican Base.

Mr. Santorum has surged ahead of Mitt Romney in current polls. He leads nationally by a few percentage points, and he leads in Michigan, Mr. Romney’s birth state, by 15 points in the PPP poll and 3 points in the Rasmussen. This is the state where Mr. Romney grew up. His father was governor there, and not an unpopular one. If Mr. Santorum wins there, Mr. Romney should come to an obvious conclusion, one we will state clearly:

Mitt, they’re just not that into you.

One of the greatest delights of this circus show that is the GOP Primary has been the extreme disdain most Republicans have for the man who will probably still be their candidate. He is perceived – correctly – as "inauthentic." There is a true Mitt Romney somewhere at the core of the mannequin we see on the television set, but that authentic man would be so odd to the rest of us that we would be more put off than we are by this mirage. The True Romney belongs in a temple, in a white robe, performing arcane acts. Or strapping his dog to the top of his car and giggling about it. The True Romney is a rather odd bloke.

So we get this ersatz Romney, a creature of artifice, and the Republican base slavers for authenticity.

They’ve given everyone else a shot at it, from the Walking Brain Dead trio of Bachmann, Cain, and Perry, to the bombastic Mr. Gingrich. (What’s up with him, anyway? He seems to have fallen off the map, news-wise. Ah, we remember. He is consciously attempting to alienate every "Liberal Media Elite" journalist in the country. Remarkable how little press that generates. Brilliant, Mr. Gingrich – though we are not surprised by this level of intellectual thoughtlessness from the Man Who Failed To Achieve Tenure At Tulane.)

Only Ron Paul and Rick Santorum remain as a viable alternative to Mr. Romney. Mr. Paul’s views on the military and foreign policy do not gibe with a party base whose ideas about international interaction come from the video game Command and Conquer.

Which leaves Rick Santorum.

The former senator and current professional lobbyist (oops, "corporate consultant") will have his day. He will make some noise. He embraces the mystical Opus Dei Catholic hatred of birth control, which seems to be the only argument the Republicans have for Why They Should Lead. But he is underfunded and outmatched in a nationwide race, and Mr. Romney is still a 4-1 favorite to win the GOP primary.

The fun will really begin then, as 60 percent of the Republican Party’s base, the percentage that really, really doesn’t like Mr. Romney, will then have to pretend that they love him, they have always loved him, that he’s dreamy, that he’s everything they could ever, ever want in a big hunk-a candidate. We’ll all know, though. We will all know that they, like the rest of us, are just not that into him.

Happy Valentine’s Day, all. Remember to practice safe sex tonight, even if you work at a Catholic-run hospital.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Medieval Vs. The Modern, Redux: Obama Vs. Santorum

Greece is on fire today, and in America we are discussing condoms. The birthplace of democracy sells itself to the banksters, and the news in America is about condoms – birth control, and what old men in dresses think about it.

Rick Santorum is the Republican candidate most deserving of his party’s nomination. He encapsulates the mind of the Right most completely, with its insistence on micro-managing a woman’s reproductive life to the exclusion of all else: the bankster takeover of the world, climate change and the sundry other impending disasters of our time, the collapse of a biosphere that can only be understood physically, through the acts of men and women, not magically, through the acts of Angels and Demons. The Bishops and the Monsignors and Rick Santorum, the Opus Dei villain of our time, are frightened of and fixated by Woman and that bit of Satan’s work she carries between their legs. To the exclusion of all else.

Santorum trumps Romney in all the current polls. Ten days ago he was 15 points behind, now he leads. Mitt Romney fades. Romney embodies plutocracy, to be sure, but he is not the zealot that Santorum is, and we live in a time of zealotry.

Let us hope the eldritch threat of Rick Santorum emboldens the Left to greatness.


Mitt Romney won the caucus in Maine, and he eked out a win in the straw poll vote at CPAC, the conservative condom-free bacchanal in D.C. this weekend, but his star is on the wane. This nomination belongs to Rick Santorum. For all of Romney’s intentional tone-deafness, he is not sufficiently insane to win the nomination this year. That belongs to Santorum, who will lead us, we all know, backward, ever backward, to a Reckoning and an Inquisition that will delight his wizards of darkness with its stained glass trappings and its medieval torture devices. Our nation deserves a national debate between the Modern and the Medieval, between a President who lives in the tangible world, and the zealot who communes with the Unseen. Rationality could very well lose, as we live in perilous times, but we deserve the debate. And either way it goes, we will probably deserve the outcome.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

George W. Bush to Speak at CPAC -- Not.

Amid the condom-forsaking bacchanal that is CPAC, the essence of contemporary conservatism is made manifest: its complete lack of introspection and self-criticism.

Back when words meant something, conservatism from Edmund Burke through Russell Kirk meant the conservation and nurture of such uniquely human gifts as intellectualism, honesty, and civility. All these have been jettisoned by a movement that has devolved in spectacular fashion from Robert Taft to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin. And beyond, as inconceivable as it might seem.

Herman Cain, for instance, stumbling through wingnut-land with a song in his heart and not a thought in his head. He doubtless chairs the Know-Nothing committee of this year’s CPAC lineup, though we feel he would have fit equally well on the convention’s much-discussed Dating Committee. The Know-Nothings include most of the better-known luminaries, with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann sharing honors with Mr. Cain as Most Likely to Know Less than a 5th Grader. (Where have you gone, Rick Perry? A nation turns its scathing eye to you...)

Conservatism once prided itself on not just a nigh-worshipful relationship with the past, but some working knowledge of it. Very little pertinent history is present at CPAC, however – to wit, the crucial years of 2001-2008, the George W. Bush Era, the most recent attempt at "conservative" government. The Bush years proved those words inarguably false. "Conservatives," we now know, neither conserve, nor do they govern.

If they conserve anything, it is the wealth and ongoing privilege of the super-rich. The Bush years taught us everything we need know of contemporary conservatism. Its central tenets are massive redistribution of wealth to the wealthy, war for the hell-of-it, and the promise of theocracy to its Bible-banging base. As it fails at governance – inability to protect the homeland from terrorist attack; inability to assist after natural disaster – it pats itself on its privileged backside and smirks, "You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie."

The Bush years almost destroyed our nation’s economy, military, and soul. The children partied and trashed our home, and the grown-ups are now trying desperately to clean up the mess.

We hear nothing of George Bush or Dick Cheney at this year’s CPAC. Their failures are the failures of Republicanism in general, and even the faithful know that their presence would be toxic. Their party is not about governance. It is about the attainment of power. Bush and Cheney’s presence is not manifest, but their ideas continue, as the core values of contemporary "conservatism" are trumpeted ad nauseam: more tax cuts for the rich, more war, damn the poor. Now and forever, amen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Maine Caucuses, Santorum, God, Horse Races

Maine caucuses tomorrow, with 24 delegates up for grabs. No polling data is available, but Newt Gingrich probably will not do well up in Yankee country. He increasingly does poorly everywhere. He looks tired. This race is putting the old horse off his feed.

Expect a close 3-way race, as follows:

1. Romney
2. Paul
3. Santorum

Any order of finish for those three would not surprise.


We have been asked to extend the racing metaphor of these writings to expound on what sort of horse each of the candidates reminds us of:

Ron Paul: The Old Nag.
Rick Santorum: The Plump Filly.
Newt Gingrich: The Old Warhorse (though he got deferments in time of actual war; we are certain no one is surprised).
Mitt Romney: The Gelded Stallion.

And Barack Obama: A Thoroughbred just hitting his stride.


After Maine we get a bit of a break with no further voting until the end of the month. The next debate is Feb. 22 – Mr. Santorum will be standing in the center of the stage next to Mitt Romney, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul as outliers. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Santorum brings to the debate some of the intensity he has been showing around the country as he preaches to evangelicals. The call-and-response, fire-and-brimstone nature we have seen in some of his current oratory has been remarkably potent. He is breaking out of the pack, and as the economy improves and the arguments on the right devolve to their standard playbook – God, more God, and damn the Godless among us, by God – Mr. Santorum stands comfortably on familiar ground. He has played the God card his entire political life. God help us.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inconceivable? Obama Vs. Santorum; Modernity Meets the Medieval

Notes and maunderings on the ginned-up Contraceptive Crisis:

More than 90 percent of U.S. Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives. Few Catholics have an issue with it – except the old drag queens at the top of the Church hierarchy. (Apologies to serious, hard-working non-Catholic drag queens everywhere.)


Do we want to live in the Opus Dei right-wing Catholic universe of Rick Santorum? His "conservatism" harks back to the Medieval world. He would sit more comfortably atop a throne than in the Oval Office.


Really, King Richard, nobody is making you put on a rubber. Or anybody else, for that matter.


Will President Obama lose any votes over this manipulated "controversy"? We think not. The loudest voices come from the ones who were opposing him already. We think he will gain many, many votes as the rest of us "normies" wake up and realize that the basics of reproductive rights are under attack.


We understand that right-wing zealots have little success proselytizing, and must breed like rabbits to achieve their goal of world domination. (Combined with home "schooling" to complete their mind-control agenda over their young.) But nobody, NOBODY, is stopping them from Doing It au naturel: Nobody is making them use birth control. (Though they know that if their women learn it’s possible to go through life performing functions other than "baby factory," they might not be so thrilled about their lives of incessant child-bearing.)


This is a fight President Obama can afford to wage. It’s simple and straightforward: Contraceptive options are part of the health care plan. You don’t have to partake of them. The right wing can piss all over themselves trying to please the Pope, but to most of America they appear increasingly absurd.


We suspect the zealots of the right are falling into a carefully laid trap here, as they devote more and more time to smaller and smaller non-issues – eventually, we are certain, they will spend their days alone on The Hill debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rick Santorum Sweeps the Field -- A New Front-Runner?

Seismic shifts in the GOP primary race Tuesday, we are told, as Rick Santorum comes in first in all three caucuses, handily in Minnesota and Missouri, and solidly in Colorado.

Before we anoint him the presumptive Republican nominee, we must remind ourselves of a few facts.  These were caucuses, not primaries. Voter turnout was low, with only the more committed (read, "extremist") voters participating. In Florida, for instance, where Mr. Romney won decisively, some 2 million Republicans voted in a simple primary. Last night in Colorado, in contrast, some 65,000 caucus-goers cast their ballots. Caucuses take time, effort, and political engagement that is rare in both parties. We can’t imagine how annoying it must be for a demon-seeing Frank Paretti fan to sit and listen to a gold standard libertarian Ron Paul supporter for two hours. And vice versa.

The Christian right comes out for these things on the Republican side of the Great Divide. Rick Santorum is their man, as he seems most willing to eliminate a woman’s right to choose, is most vociferous in opposition to the concepts of global warming and evolution, and is most stridently opposed to legal rights for homosexuals.

Religion is poised to rear its head ever higher in these primaries. Hitherto the GOP line of attack against President Obama has been that the economy is not going well, he is the president, therefore he is to blame. Latest economic indicators point to an uptick in our economic prospects. The Republicans are dropping that line of attack for now, and falling back on the old tried and true. For decades they have relied on the Three G’s: God, Guns, and Gays. God has been trotted out; expect the other two to follow close behind.

Mitt Romney, fixated for months on the economy, abruptly shifted gears in Colorado, going for the Rocky Mountain High-on-Jesus types. He didn’t exactly get all fire and brimstone on us, but he did dip his toe in the holy water, trying to paint the Obama administration as veritable Satanic extremists over their insistence that all institutions nationwide provide the same health care options to their employees.

We suspect that Mitt Romney talking religion isn’t going to work for him with the Christian right. It will seem as odd to them as Christine O’Donnell talking witchcraft. The proselytizing, well-scrubbed elephant in the room this election is Mr. Romney’s Mormonism. To Christian extremists, there’s some pretty wacky stuff going on in that religion, which many of them think of as a "cult." (Wacky Stuff Example: One must wonder if the Mormon leadership has performed one of their ubiquitous "proxy baptisms" on Ronald Reagan, for instance, as is their wont with individuals they have great admiration for, offering the delights of Mormonism to the spirits of those who have passed beyond this veil. The practice is soft-pedaled by the Mormon Church as little more than proselytizing beyond the grave, nothing binding about it, missionary work to the stars. We would like to hear Mitt Romney’s Missionary Position on corpses. We see we have stumbled upon a necrophilia pun here, and we will now back slowly and quietly away from it.)

At any rate, Mr. Romney’s religious turn helped him not a jot in Colorado, and he is doubtless re-thinking what he has to offer in the marketplace of ideas. But until Mr. Santorum wins a big primary in a big state, with casual voters lining up for him as completely as they have lined up for Mr. Romney, he cannot be termed a front-runner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Santorum Surges; Romney Angers Running-Dog Lackey Base

Primary day in Minnesota and Colorado, and Rick Santorum is polling remarkably well. The latest PPP poll has Santorum at 33 percent in the former, with Mitt Romney second at 24, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul close behind. In Colorado Santorum is polling a strong second behind Mr. Romney, and Tuesday could shape up to be Mr. Santorum’s day.

Interpretation of the Santorum surge, such as it is, centers around a palpable dislike by the conservative base of Mr. Romney, combined with a definite distrust that Mr. Gingrich can refrain from behaving insanely at some point in the next 10 months. Remaining is Rick Santorum, with Ron Paul too much a quirky Libertarian outlier to fit neatly in any political party other than, well, the Libertarian Party.

We wish Mr. Santorum all the best today, as we yearn for great rending and strife on the Republican side all the way to the convention in Tampa. If he does do well, we will enjoy writing about his numerous sins, including his work with the K Street Project, that most unique of Republican lobbying syndicates. Also forthcoming, Rick Santorum and the Gays, chronicling his incessant assault on the freedoms of LGBT individuals for the past 20 years, and the Savage response it engendered. For now, though, we will wait and see if he becomes a legitimate alternative to Mr. Romney.

God knows the boot-licking lackey base of the GOP would like an alternative. Mr. Romney recently spoke in favor of increasing minimum wage, tying it to inflation, a concept anathema to the Three Mouseketeers, I mean, the Free Marketeers of the Right. The super-rich DO NOT like to lose a single nickel to the hoi polloi, and they hire "economists" to spout – and shout – their drivel. The GOP plan for maximum employment, if they had the guts to admit it: Rip the planet to shreds, employ everybody in sweatshop conditions at two dollars an hour (giving the straw bosses $2.25 so they can feel like WINNERS); rathole the profits and laugh on their yachts how they bs'ed idiots into voting for it. On this issue, there is no nuance. There is no complexity. The super-rich want it all, are succeeding in taking it all, and the sooner the rest of us realize that, the sooner we can figure out how to prevent it from happening.

Mr. Romney very occasionally gets it right, and when he does, the jackboot-licking base goes all apoplectic. This Tuesday, Mr. Santorum could be the beneficiary of their demented rage.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Colorado Crazy: Who Would Jesus Vote For?

Colorado caucuses are held tomorrow, with 36 delegates up for grabs proportionally. Ron Paul will be a factor, as he is in all proportional caucuses, and can be expected to pick up a few more delegates. Mitt Romney will probably clinch another first place, with momentum on his side and lack of a fire-breathing evangelical opposing him to seduce Colorado’s available Christian vote.

Colorado evangelicals love to be wooed. Ted Haggard, Colorado Springs megachurch mogul and noted gay sexpot, had the state’s extreme right wing in his pocket for years (and what they did there we can only speculate). He stayed firmly atop the uber-rich Christian pack, scooping up the shekels with the alacrity of a temple money-changer. A goodly amount of the moolah went to pay for the services of gay male prostitutes. When discovered he repented, of course, and was forgiven, of course, with "Christian therapists" working on him, as it were, to pray the gay away and declare him cured: "100 percent heterosexual." Which didn’t last long, of course – are we shocked? – as the recidivism rate among gay Christian gay-bashing preachers is also 100 percent. He is presumably currently engaging in one of three activities: 1. Preaching and taking the money of gullible idiots, 2. Dallying with a gay male prostitute, or 3. Repenting his actions. Repenting No. 2, not No. 1.

So who would Ted Haggard tell his followers that Jesus would vote for? A Mormon? Eww. One of the two Catholics? Rick Santorum might be a good fit for the hot-to-trot evangelical base of the GOP Republican electorate, but there’s that pesky Catholic thing. They like a big hunk of manly megachurch in those parts, and the Catholics are a bit too introspective for them. We suspect Opus Dei could make some inroads in the Rocky Mountain State, but currently, no, the Frank Peretti-reading right rules the roost. Newt Gingrich? They probably don’t have a problem with the serial fornication and repentance, but Mr. Gingrich is a bit too intellectual for them. "The Perfesser," as they call him during their late-night forays of vandalism against the local New Age bookshop, has read a few too many tomes himself.

The Western Individualists are the other large group of voters – think Adolph Coors dressed like Heath Ledger from "Brokeback Mountain." A certain number of them will go with Ron Paul, though the idea of America Without Endless Wars probably scares the crap out of them.

Frankly, there is no clear choice for the GOP base in Colorado. Voter turnout will be down from four years ago. Mr. Romney – eww – will win by default. And, in November, he will lose by default.


Minnesota caucuses Tuesday as well, with 40 GOP delegates up for grabs. Mr. Gingrich stands a better chance here than in Colorado. His polling numbers have been strong, and Mr. Romney has not carpet-bombed the airwaves as comprehensively as he did in Florida. Delegates will be awarded proportionally, and we suspect that even if Mr. Gingrich does not win in total votes, the count will be close enough for a near-even split with Mr. Romney in delegates. Ron Paul will get his handful. Rick Santorum will continue to fade, and we wait expectantly for him to "suspend" his campaign.

The slow grind to Tampa continues.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Newt Gingrich: We Will Go To Tampa

We thought he might quit – why else call a press conference after a losing primary? Press conferences in such situations are generally reserved for saying one’s good-byes, or, in the parlance of the current GOP primary, for "suspending" one’s campaign.

But no. In short, Newt Gingrich vowed to fight on last night, all the way to the Republican convention this summer in Tampa, Florida. He accused the Romney campaign of sponsoring the rumor that Mr. Gingrich’s demise was imminent, terming it their "greatest fantasy." Perhaps. But this is our "greatest fantasy" come true, if Newt means it, that he does indeed fight tooth and claw all the way, and that the convention might take on aspects of a metaphorical bloodbath. We don’t know what we would write about, should Mr. Romney not have an antagonist this primary season. The Obama campaign? The only exciting prospect there -- until the general election heats up -- might be Joe Biden’s falling off the ticket, and who might replace him. (Hillary Clinton? A bit on the nose, and she is, sadly, not looking all that vigorous. Jim Webb? We like the idea of a gun-totin’ leftie....)

Mr. Gingrich will fight on. That was the biggest news from the Nevada primary. Mr. Romney’s victory was news to no one, except perhaps the blindered Ron Paul supporter, who still expects him to come in first place somewhere, anywhere. The rest of the Gingrich presser was Newt being Newt, snarkily castigating the press even as he feeds on their free publicity. His "big ideas": A thumbnail glimpse at maximum employment, Republican style – eliminate minimum wage and child labor laws, basically. Ah, the good old days of the 19th century! Everybody employed – at two dollars an hour. Marianas Islands neo-capitalism writ large, the Republican Party’s "greatest fantasy."


"This Week" with George S. this Sunday morning, and to our surprise we see Glenn Hubbard, Harvard "economist" and chief gun-for-hire by the right wing, blathering about giving more money to rich people and why it’s such a good thing. He was our pick for Most Disgusting Villain -- or at least Most Cloying -- from the movie "Inside Job," the best chronicle of the financial collapse of 2008. Mr. Hubbard works for the Mitt Romney team now. Their economic plan is simple: Complete the transference of all wealth to the super-rich. Mr. Hubbard has made a very good living writing and speaking on why such an act would be such a jolly good idea. My Goodness but Mr. Romney is on board with it. Continue raking all the money off the table, and then when there’s no money left to pay for anything find some poor sap getting $200 a month in food stamps and blame him.

They beat on, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Romneys Bend Their Knees; Newt Gingrich Forlorn

Mitt Romney continues to push the envelope of free speech, on Friday essentially shouting "You’re fired!" in the midst of the imploded economy we call Nevada. In short – he accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump, whose good will he seems to care about very much, considerably more than he cares about the good will of "the very poor." Of whom he cares about not at all, or so he claims for the nonce.

He and wife Ann stood with the wannabe kingmaker, faces frozen at the antics of the surreal pasha of personal promotion. (Though Ann’s rictus grin slipped for a moment when Trump handed off the microphone to Mr. Romney and moved behind her. We are certain we saw her jump abruptly and grimace. Precisely why we will not speculate.)

Newt Gingrich also cared very much about receiving the Trump Stamp. (We search for a graceful way to make a "tramp stamp" pun somewhere in here but can’t seem to make it fly. Ah well. The reach must always exceed the grasp.) He, and much of cyberspace, assumed he would get it. Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Trump have seemed at times best of buds. The former speaker is a member of Mr. Trump’s exclusive Northern Virginia golf club. Mr. Gingrich was first to agree to the Trump-moderated GOP debate that never happened, as none of the other candidates were much on board with the idea. Mr. Trump has denigrated Mr. Romney repeatedly in the past.

But Mr. Trump backed the presumptive nominee (and presumably will try to take credit for Mr. Romney’s almost certain win). Mr. Gingrich did not handle it well. His campaign immediately fired off a spiteful letter to the Florida Republican Party, insisting they change the rules after the fact to allot their delegates proportionally. Grrrr.

Really, Mr. Gingrich, you have only yourself to blame. The Donald would have backed you, were you poised to all but lock up the nomination. You had a chance at it, too. Had you not abandoned your sole successful line of attack, we are certain you would now be in the catbird seat.

Mr. Gingrich won big in South Carolina. At the time he was running ads castigating Mr. Romney on the most effective terrain: Bain Capital, tax returns, Cayman Islands accounts. To repeat: Bain Capital, tax returns, Cayman Islands accounts. It was working. Big time.

Then, abruptly, something happened. Powerful Republicans cried foul, made criticism of vulture capitalism and shady offshore tax dodges off-limits, and Mr. Gingrich acquiesced. He returned to the theme of which no one cares a whit: health care. Romneycare = Obamacare = Whatever.

Honestly, nobody cares about the health care thing. Nobody. As in, for God’s sake, nobody. As we have pointed out in previous writings, the right wing has attached its flatulent wind-bag of hatred onto whatever issue it can dredge up – which alternates between "Obamacare" and "budget deficit" – and pretends to have an issue it's angry about. Right-wingers are not angry about any issue. They’re angry at President Obama personally: He doesn’t look right to them. His middle name is "Hussein." End of story.

Mr. Romney is vulnerable on his shady finances. Just say the words to him. Say, "Tax Return." He stutters and haws and hems and flails his arms about like that robot on the old "Lost in Space’ show. Say "Cayman Islands" and he almost rolls on the floor kicking his feet in the air and rants about how very very hard he was worked for everything he has.

That line of attack worked. Mr. Gingrich had a real shot at this thing. Not anymore. And now he stands alone, abandoned even by the one man on this planet who is his equal at combining that uniquely Republican mix of arrogance and ignorance: The Donald anoints Mittens. Newt – and perhaps even Ann – weeps.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Latest Line: Mitt Romney to Win Big in Nevada

GOP Nevadans caucus tomorrow, with 28 delegates up for grabs. The proportional allotment gives outliers like Ron Paul a chance to pick up a few more delegates, and a strong Tea Party presence might give Newt Gingrich a boost, but we predict Mitt Romney will chalk up an easy victory.

Ron Paul performs better in caucus states than primary states. His relative success is partially self-fulfilling prophecy – he spends more money and time in such states. Mostly, though, his supporters are committed and vocal, always a plus in the interactive nature of the caucus format.

Mr. Gingrich also hopes for a decent showing. The Tea Party is strong in Nevada, which won’t particularly help Mr. Romney. How much it will help Mr. Gingrich is uncertain, as Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle has endorsed Rick Santorum. The former GOP Senate candidate might still have a bit of clout in the Silver State, though her poor showing against obviously beatable Harry Reid might make her maunderings dismissible in this new election cycle. She ran a campaign against Reid that married in monumental fashion equal parts ineptitude and hubris, which seems an accurate description of the Tea Party in general.

Mr. Romney sees the Angle endorsement and Trumps it with the Donald. We wonder how thrilled he actually is to receive Mr. Trumps’s endorsement, Kiss of Death in a sane world, almost as devastating as an endorsement from that other most toxic of Republican assets, George W. Bush. (Ah, George W. Bush. He whose name must not be spoken. Never seen, but always present, as the grown-ups still endeavor to clean up his messes. Whither hides he? Does he lurk on his Paraguay plantation, thumbing that $9 billion pallet of cash that went missing in Iraq? A freebie for Republican strategists: Convince Mr. Bush to endorse Barack Obama. Your side might have a chance in November.)

And what of Mr. Santorum? Will his religious separatism find a home in the vast landscapes of the west, where a Religious Zealot can homeschool his brood of Future Zealots without the complexities of 21st century life intruding? We don’t think so, Ms. Angle’s endorsement notwithstanding.

Nevada belongs to Mr. Romney. He has quite a bit of cash. The state has quite a large Mormon population. We predict a solid first place for him, with the other three splitting roughly evenly the remainder of the vote.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Refreshing Honesty of Mitt Romney

"I’m not concerned about the very poor."
"I like to be able to fire people."
"The economy is getting better."

Almost everybody tells us who they are, if only we listen closely. Professional politicians manage to obfuscate more seamlessly than most, but Mitt Romney is a pleasant exception. Perhaps a touch of the amateur seeps through in his obtuse declarations – after all, he has served only four years in public office, a lack of experience that his supporters will champion loudly until the very day of his defeat, at which point they might consider that a professional could have conceivably been more skilled than a non-professional at this whole Running For President thing.

"I’m not concerned about the very poor."

When let out on his own, away from the people who scriven his speeches and twitter his tweets, Mitt Romney makes quite clear to us what he’s all about. He’s not concerned about the very poor, for instance. And why should he be? It’s sort of their own fault, isn’t it? Anybody in America can make it – look at his own rags-to-riches story as son of George Romney, CEO of American Motors Corporation and 1968 Republican presidential primary candidate. With such a Dickensian background, it’s hard to imagine how Mitt Romney ever got accepted into Harvard Law and Harvard Business. Fortunately, affirmative action for wealthy white people was in effect at the time, and Mr. Romney managed to find a place at the table of such an elite institution.

Why should he care about the poor? He himself managed to overcome his background. Let others do the same! Quite the bootstrap lift, Mr. Romney – we say, Jolly good!

"I like being able to fire people."

Such remarkable honesty from Willard Mitt Romney. He manages to get the word "fire" into a sentence almost every other time he opens his mouth. Most professional politicians would excise that word from their vocabulary, but Mr. Romney just can’s help it. He’s always firing people, or wanting to, whether it’s health insurance providers, undocumented help around the house, or hypothetical executives who might suggest the wisdom of building a moon colony. We suggest he consider Donald Trump as running mate. The junior partner could say the words, "You’re fired!" and the senior member could implement the directive. Again we say, Jolly good!

"The economy is getting better."

We could not have said it better ourselves. Barack Obama, dealt the worst hand of cards since Franklin Roosevelt as an incoming president, has managed to bring an American economy back from the precipice and kick-start it toward something approaching functionality. We are pleased that his likely opponent in the general election recognizes this stellar achievement. Mr. Romney, speaking to Laura Ingraham, deserves to be quoted at length:

INGRAHAM: You’ve also noted that there are signs of improvement on the horizon in the economy. How do you answer the president’s argument that the economy is getting better in a general election campaign if you yourself are saying it’s getting better?

ROMNEY: Well, of course it’s getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession, there is always a recovery. […]

INGRAHAM: Isn’t it a hard argument to make if you’re saying, like, OK, he inherited this recession, he took a bunch of steps to try to turn the economy around, and now, we’re seeing more jobs, but vote against him anyway? Isn’t that a hard argument to make? Is that a stark enough contrast?

ROMNEY: Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the truth.

Remarkable! So much do we admire Mr. Romney’s acknowledgment of Mr. Obama’s successes that we suggest he not be allowed to forget his words at any point in the general election.

Thank you again, Mr. Romney, for your refreshing honesty and willingness to let the voters know The Real Mitt.  And again we must say, Jolly good!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We Happy Few -- Newt Gingrich in Defeat

The tone of Newt Gingrich in defeat is feistier and more interesting than Newt Gingrich in victory. (He’s also more interesting than Mitt Romney in victory, who raises boring to unprecedented heights.) After his 14-point loss in Florida last night, Mr. Gingrich delivered what will probably be a standard stump speech. He excoriated the media and Republican Party elites, he whipped up the faithful with rhetoric that, to them, probably seemed as energized as Henry V’s "Saint Crispin’s" speech, and he promised them the moon. At no extra charge.

Well, not literally the moon. That comes in other speeches, his promise of a "moon colony" by the end of his second term. But he did make it clear that we will be paying little to no taxes, radically increasing military spending, and eliminating the federal budget deficit. Mr. Obama’s theme in the previous election was "Hope and Change." We must say of Mr. Gingrich’s fairy tale promises, "Nope, and Strange."

Mr. Gingrich’s math is not the math we learned, what with his insistence on a budget-busting military and space program, and his unwillingness to tax enough to pay for any of it. But he would probably consider our criticisms meaningless, that of the "media elite." After all, we have a blog.

Mr. Gingrich loves to hate elites, rhetorically poising himself as "anti-establishment." Really. Don’t pretend it’s a choice, Newt. It’s not "anti-establishment" when they won’t have you.

Newt, you don’t scare them because of your bold vision. You scare them because you’re so nuts you’ll inspire an Obama turnout that will swamp all the down-ticket candidates, giving the Congress firmly back to the Democrats. (For this reason we support Mr. Gingrich wholeheartedly in his bid to unseat Mr. Romney in the GOP primary.)

Mr. Gingrich says he will continue onward, sally forth and all that, on and on until the late summer convention. It remains to be seen. They always say that, right up until they don’t. In his case, though, it could be true. He loves the attention, that much is obvious. We look forward to seeing if he can find a line of attack that will pull Mr. Romney from his pedestal.