Friday, December 9, 2011

A Special Kind of Madness

A Special Kind Of Madness

The fever is upon us.

Donald Trump is moderating his own debate.  If he’s dissatisfied with the answers, he’s considering a third-party candidacy.

The New York Times and CBS News just polled Iowa Caucus voters.  They love Newt.  When these very socially conservative voters were asked to reconcile this newfound ardor with Newt’s checkered personal history, they said they are worried about the economy.  So values voters pick the career politician and (“not”) lobbyist over Mitt, who has only been married once and actually run businesses and the Olympics? 

Mitt, suddenly worried, has agreed to be interviewed by Fox News’s Chris Wallace.  Mitt doesn’t like interviews, because apparently they ask questions that he hasn’t been pre-programmed to answer.  But, realizing the existential threat that Newt (and bad press) could cause to his campaign, he’s going to sit down with Wallace.  While Fox is an organ of the GOP, Chris Wallace is a very smart man without much of an agenda.  Mitt should see this as an opportunity, and not akin to the Spanish Inquisition.

Speaking of the Spanish Inquisition, Newt suggested that poor children clean toilets in public schools.  And Michelle Bachmann was flummoxed when an eight year old mentioned her Mom was a lesbian (should we call out child protective services??)

In this week’s entries to the pander-bowl, every Republican (except for Ron Paul) seems to be ready to go to war with Iran as a means of expressing their love of Israel.  Rick Perry has even found a way to wiggle his way out of the “not one dime in foreign aid” trap that he set for himself.  It’s apparently not aid when it’s “strategic.”  And Jon Huntsman, the cerebral, comparatively moderate, seemingly sane, former Ambassador to China, apparently has had a midlife existential crisis on climate change. He used to (as in only a month ago) believe in it.  Now, not so much. 

Meanwhile, back in that august chamber known as the United States Senate, Republicans are filibustering everything.  All of it.  Either the bill or appointment meets with Mitch McConnell’s personal approval, or it will not be voted on.  This universal use of the filibuster is the only innovative thing to come out of Congress this year.  47 “strict constructionists” have apparently re-written the Constitution.   

Finally, my daughter happily informed me this morning that Rick Perry’s “Obama’s War on Christianity” video is now the “most hated” YouTube posting of all time (overcoming a pop artist’s posting, the previous record holder.)  Rick’s probably thrilled; he’s finally rising in at least one poll.

But, once you get out of the asylum, there’s a growing concern among sane conservatives as to just how dysfunctional we all are, and just what type of nominee the GOP is going to come up with.   The list of conservative columnists expressing severe doubts about Newt and Mitt, and the entire nominating field, are growing, almost by the day. 

While “true” conservatives have never really loved Mitt for his previous apostasies, they would accept a Romney Presidency as a means of regaining power.  But Gingrich scares them.  He’s a one man billboard for the unhinged. David Brooks, in The New York Times, says of him, “As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated.” In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker said Gingrich’s remarks on the poor made Al Sharpton look like “the voice of sagacity” (ouch), and Michael Gerson called Gingrich’s inconstancy “not the weakness of the moment…the pattern of a lifetime.”   George Will emphatically rejects both Gingrich and Romney.  “Romney’s main objection to contemporary Washington seems to be that he is not administering it.”  Gingrich, he says,  “embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive.” 

That’s not exactly an outpouring of support.  I could be cynical and call it just cold political calculus-they all want to win.  But I do believe that for as many small time grifters like Blagojevich and big time blowhards like Rush, there are a lot of politicians and pundits who really do care about making government work.  These people may differ in ideological approach, or which party can do it better, but they are not nihilists. 

So, how much longer will the inmates run the asylum?   Will there be a knight in shining armor to rescue the GOP (and all of us)?  That is hard to tell.  So, as I did a couple of weeks ago in writing about the director John Ford, I’m going to return to the movies for a dose of inspiration and optimism.

In “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,”  a crowd surrounds a young woman and demands she be burned for being a witch.  A knight, passing by, asks “how do you know she’s a witch?”  One of the men shouts “she turned me into a Newt.”  When the knight looks skeptically at him, he replies “I got better.”