Saturday, January 21, 2012
The Romney Stare
[photo from New York Daily News]
Who knows, if they work the machinery with such awkward transparency, at some point in the distant future our electorate may begin to perceive their own emotional manipulation and have some reaction tending back towards rationality and clarity. It's possible. Hell, several hundred years before Jesus's time on the planet, a guy in Greece realized that we live mostly in illusion, and even taught a small group of students that we could actually turn around, away from the back of the cave wall, and look out at the sun.
Of course it's true that his contemporaries made Socrates kill himself, and Jesus was not only dispatched, but his teachings were then pretty much reversed into a death cult. It ain't easy being true.
Still. On the one hand, Ms Maddow last night offered a most wonderful analysis of the silly question which Mr. Gingrich hit out of the park to the delight of his attending base (and Mr. Hannity yesterday, on my drive home), noting that the John King question was pathetically ill-formed and allowed Gingrich to attack the questioner will a clearly rehersed retort which deftly sidestepped the obvious--that Gingrich was the guy who drove the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton, the man who literally personified his very complaint that personal attacks are allegedly driving the best away from politics.
Well yes, Mr. G. And one can see the next ratchet cog before the handle reaches it--when character of quality leaves the field, nature still abhors a vacuum, and what rushes in is--viola--Gingrich! It's a virtual personification of the general Republican pirouette, which has been executed so many times there must be a hole on the dance floor by now: Gubment is incompetent. Elect us and we'll prove it again and again. Because we believe gubmet is incompetent.
At this point you can see it at the personal and at the macro level--the great Tea Party Revolution of 2010 accomplished what? And Gingrich now leads in the Gamecock state, the place where the ancestors of these voters decided some 150 years ago that it was a good idea to ignite the Civil War, shelling a little island garrison in Charleston Harbor. We may recall how that turned out: Mr. Davis fleeing with the remains of the treasury, on the night train to Georgia, and the tragic retreat from Richmond to Appomattox finally ending with more rational leaders admitting that further slaughter was pointless, i.e., walking at last to the Cave entrance and checking out the sunrise.
Meanwhile, there's the hilarious Mr. Romney, who has developed a deer in the headlights stare. Romney's base knows that stare, they recognize it. Some of 'em spot light deer themselves, of an evening. I asked Libby last night, "didn't Romney know going into this that he had tax issues?" He's starting to look as foolish as our own John Edwards, who embarked on a Presidential Run with a bun in the oven.
How the nation averted that disaster I don't know. We'd have been living in the McCain Presidency today had Edwards won the nomination in 2008, with Ms. Palin offering her views on Turkey from the balcony rather than from a bus book tour in Indiana.
The folks in the know still say Romney will carry the GOP banner in the fall. I sure hope so. With Gingrich we'll get to replay George Wallace in '68, and with a black opponent no less. Then we'll have an actual measure of the level of racism that still exists in the United States. No sane person wants to directly calculate that measure.
But that racism exists in ample measure is certainly not in doubt. In the very safe reaches of television, we have Gingrich just this week "putting Juan Williams in his place" when the former NPR reporter who now plays Alan Colmes on Fox News asked a slightly better phrased question of Mr. Gingrich than John King's pitiful effort on Thursday. In the very unsafe reaches of Arizona, meanwhile, this travesty is going on:
What a tragedy, and in beautiful Tucson, where Libby and I have played dances and wandered the sunny streets looking for treasures in junk stores. I'd hoped Tucson was immune from the Phoenix racism, that somehow that was one of those big-city things. Tucson's not so big, not so classically urban, and so much closer to the border, you'd think folks there would have a much easier time with the complexities of interwoven border life. Moreover, it's really crappy when adults are just assholes inflicting injustice on kids who don't have much power to respond. What we're seeing in Tuscon is modern segregation--what the Warren Court directly ruled, back in '54, was inherently harmful to American children. It still is. And harming children is still one of the very worst things people can do. There's not much difference, really, between Mr. Sandusky and this unnamed school official in Tuscon. Of course the GOP Presidential Hopefuls remain silent.