Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fracas In Florida

With the Florida primaries fast upon us both Willard Romney and Newton Leroy Gingrich all pulling out all the stops. The T.V. Ads are brutal. I pity the poor residents of the Sunshine state because both candidates are bringing on the gloom and doom.

Romney stopped hitting the snooze button and finally bashed the panic button for all its worth. Getting creamed in S.C. can do that to a Republican front-runner. With an new debate coach in hand, the Mighty Mormon came out swinging and rained down blows on the Baron of Bloat. By the end of the debate Newt was staggering around stage, and asking any passer-by if they got the license number of the Mack truck that just ran him over.

After that last debate, many a pundit was declaiming that Newt was “dead.” Such short memories this pundit class. Newt has all the staying power of Dracula in those late 60’s Hammer Film Productions staring Christopher Lee. Drive any amount of steaks into the vampire’s chest, it does no good; he keeps coming back.

God knows the good villagers of the Republican Party elite brought enough crosses, garlic, and enough wood to build a small mansion; all with the intent of making sure Count Newt went down, and stayed down. The powers that be even had Chris Christy attempt to sit on Gingrich, hoping the NJ governor’s shear heft would crush Newt . Still, who knows, it is really hard to kill Newt; because like Spock, he’s been dead before.

Newt died a very ugly political death in the 90’s. Having been played like a five dollar banjo by Bill Clinton, Newt was tossed out on spotted behind by his own Republican caucus. The Republicans had him dead to rights with a ethics violation, and the Democrats will more than willing to toast marshmallows on the flaming bier the House Republicans had built for Gingrich.

All through the late nineties, and the turn of the new millennium, Newt waited; biding his time. He got filthy rich via his “history lessons” to numerous clients, and waited for his main chance. The main chance came this year, when the next guy up for nomination was Mitt Romney. Mitt was so weak that Newt, who started campaigning as way to remind us of who he was (and sell books) became a legitimate possibility for office.

Let me rephrase that, Newt became “legitimate” because he was the last anti-Romney left standing. Santorum had his hiccup in Iowa, but only Newt had the real chance in S.C. Newt, knowing that S.C. Was do or die, dusted off every odd dog-whistle in his collection, and blew each and every one for maximum effect.

Which brings us back to Florida. It is desperation time for both Newt and Mr. Ice. If too cool for school Romney looses Florida, he is in real trouble. His coterie of Establishment  Republicans are going to bail; draft Jeb Bush anyone?A FL victory for Mr. Gingrich turns Mitt from Mr. Inevitable to the Anybody but Newt candidate. Mitt is not very convincing in that roll.

While Republicans are freaking out on the prospect of candidate Gingrich as their standard bearer, what should be their concern is the systemic rot that Newt represents. I am talking about more than just the odd corruption that pay-to-play brings to the table.  I am talking about a more profound rot, a cynical, corrupt, and lazy ideology fueled by hate and bitterness. It is a deeply selfish philosophy, resentful of any attempt to invoke a common cause, a common goal, or even common decency. It is all about my way or the highway, about the domination; the obliteration of anyone who does not look like you or agree with you.

Newt is the logically conclusion to a Republican orthodoxy that only fools, ideologues and cynics can support. Gingrich plugs into the resentful reptile brain of the Republican base. He pugs into the crypto racism, the sexual phobia, the misogyny, the immigrant bashing and patriarchy that are part and parcel of wingnut America. It is ugly stuff, no wonder the elites recoil at the sight of it.

Like it or not, Newton Leroy Gingrich is not the end of this ugliness. This is a systemic problem. Gingrich and the TEA Party are just the same old wine of resentment poured in a new bottle. Even if Gingrich ends in Florida, his legacy will continue. Sooner or later the monster the Republicans built deep in the heart of DIxie will claim its own.
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