Newt’s Palin Next to Cain

Who says train wrecks can’t be fun?

June 10th 2011

Watching the GOP presidential campaign is a bit like watching a train wreck, only to discover the train is filled with circus clowns. You hear thundering crashes, and see hundreds of yards of wreckage, and you take this in with mounting concern and apprehension. Then all these clowns come tumbling out, all red noses and floppy pants and tiny umbrellas, like psychedelic ants, and you can’t help but laugh.

If I hadn’t already compared it to a train wreck, I might compare it to a skeet shoot. Every week, there’s a new front runner, and this name is breathlessly announced to the Teabaggers who are anxiously awaiting the great white hope, and this is the equivalent of shouting “pull!” at the skeet range. The front runner soars, and then explodes into shards.

OK, so I used the skeet analogy anyway. There’s probably several dozen good analogies that could be used. You’re smart: I’m sure you can come up with a good one of your own.

I don’t know. Maybe the train wrecked because there was a bunch of busted pieces of skeet laying on the tracks. Something, something, shards, and then there was a train wreck.


Newt Gingrich. His campaign was perhaps the most impressive implosion since the Eagleton Affair. Unlike that affair, which was just sad, Newt managed to be hilarious.

Newt reminds me of the nasty little guy who is the heavy in “The Incredibles”. Same strut, same air of pompous injured victimhood. And Newt showed up to the campaign wearing a cape. Or at least, he may as well have. Certainly he wasted no time getting sucked into a jet engine.

It began badly enough, with the David Gregory interview on “Meet the Press.” Newt said what was on his mind, which was fine, except he’s running for the GOP nomination. So when he dismissed the Ryan budget plan, quite correctly, as “right wing social engineering” all the Teabaggers who would get screwed the hardest by the Ryan plan blew sky-high. Now, Newt could have come out the next day and said, “I spoke without thinking. I think the Ryan plan is worthy of sober consideration, and I urge voters to pay attention to the merits of the plan.” That retracts without actually retracting, and after a while, it blows over. By the time the primaries begin, voters have forgotten all about the interview. Instead, he made the bizarre proclamation that he didn’t mean what he said and “If you quote me directly, you’re lying.” This was followed by a press release that was so over the top that Stephen Colbert couldn’t read it, but instead had John Lithgow, in his persona of serial killer Arthur Mitchell from ‘Dexter’ read it. It was a performance of epic comedic proportions.

Thirteen of Newt’s eighteen regional campaign directors quit, and it was obvious that Newt wasn’t going anywhere.

Except he was. His wife dragged him off on a two-week luxury cruise to Greece (another country that is feeling the effects of Republican-style economic policy) leaving bewildered staff and aides to wonder if Newt’s dedication to running was all that sincere. In the demented system of American campaigns, candidates have to spend 80 hours a week for 18 months sucking up for corporate bribes in order to run.

Newt enjoyed Greece, and when he got back, the entire upper echelon of his campaign quit en masse on him.

Goodbye, Newt. He kinda got what he deserved, though: after years of lying and promoting general insanity, he gets wiped out by speaking the truth, and acting sanely by taking a two week vacation before the arduous grind of a campaign. The people who stormed him for those transgressions were largely his creation, going back to the revolution of 1994, and the pigeons have come home to roost. Or shoot skeet. At other -clay- pigeons. In front of a train. Filled with clowns. Or something.

This week, the top flavor is Herman Cain. There’s something vaguely forlorn about hoping that Republican voters will support a candidate because he’s black, and they aren’t going to have much luck guilting Democratic voters into supporting him. They like to pass him off as a nice friendly pizza guy (he was CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, and I would be surprised if he actually knew how to make a pizza) but more to the point, he was CEO of National Restaurant Association PAC, one of the most vociferous opponents of minimum wages and most worker health and safety laws. He was also Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas. He formed his own Political Action Committee last year, The Hermanator PAC. I’m not convinced that now is a good time to make people think you have anything to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He’s been busily touting himself as a sophisticated and competent banker and businessman who would run government like a business. Insane, yes, but perfect music to GOP voters’ ears.

But then he came out and said that if he became President, he would never sign any bill that was longer than three pages long.

I can’t wait to see what the federal budget looks like jammed on to three pages. Maybe if you use scientific notation instead of all those zeroes…

Maybe Congress could just legislate by Twitter. Or ringtones.

So Cain, trying to be sophisticated and savvy, comes across as an utter simpleton who would make even Teabaggers frown in puzzled confusion because even they know you can’t get most bills onto three pages.

Then there was Sarah Palin. As everyone knows, she had Paul Revere riding to Concord with bells and firing guns to warn the British that Americans had a second amendment. The next day she went on Chris Wallace’s Faux Show and snapped that she was right, and she knew her history. Even Wallace looked at her like she had just announced she was going to shoot skeet in front of a train filled with clowns.

While nearly every American with at least a third grade education was saying, “Wait, that can’t possibly be right. Wasn’t Paul Revere in that rock band in the 60’s? You know, ‘Kicks’, ‘Hungry’, all that?”

To make matters even worse, some of Palin’s followers, apparently oblivious to the saying “You have a right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts,” got busy and started rewriting the story of Paul Revere’s ride on Wikipedia and Conservapedia to match Palin’s garbled version. “Hardly a man is now alive Who remembers that famous day and year.” At least, that was the plan. Compressed to a few days of reeducation.

Then Palin went to the Sudan via London, a magical mystery tour that inspired hundreds of jokes and mild puzzlement. Her retinue announced that Palin hoped to meet with the grand doyenne of British right wing politics, Margaret Thatcher. One joke went that she went to London to find someone to mend her roof, and to Africa to buy a car.

But they forgot to mention this to the Thatcher people. It seems that the former Iron Hen of Britain is secluded these days, her mind lost in the mists of Alzheimer’s. And, according to the Guardian, her people stated, “Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.”

It might have attracted little attention, except the American right wing went completely out of their minds, and, led by Rush Limbaugh, unleashed a wave of vituperation at the British in general, and the Guardian in particular. Rush called the Guardian “preposterous” prompting suggestions on Guardian blogs that they should make that statement part of their masthead.

Bemused Guardian bloggers found themselves approving of something Margaret Thatcher did for the first time since Mary Queen of Scots had Paul Revere beheaded, and had a field day with the inevitable right wing spin artists who showed up to defend Sarah’s honor. The Guardian noted dryly that in Britain, “crazy” wasn’t a politically partisan issue.

And today, of course, some 22,500 emails from Palin’s tenure as half-governor of Alaska are being released, and there’s no doubt a treasure trove of comedic material to be found in there.

Nothing kills a political career faster than derisive laughter, no matter how cult-like the following of that politician is. It’s said that tyrants fear mockery more than the assassin’s bullet, and it isn’t limited to tyrants. Few politicians can survive becoming a joke. Ed Muskie had drops of water on his cheeks on a snowy day in New Hampshire and he was done. Howard Dean screamed over crowd noise into a directional mike, and the “Dean Scream” cut his career short. McGovern’s VP candidate had electro-shock therapy many years before, and it doomed him.

Still in the wings are Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Buddy Roemer, Rick Santorum, Vern Wiensche, John Bolton, Lindsey Graham (who is, yes, still alive), John Huntsman, Rick “Goodhair” Perry, Paul Ryan, Joe Scarborough, Allen West, Scott Brown, Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan, Tom Miller, Andy Martin, Fred Karger, and Gary Johnson.

Surely Obama must be terrified. Just imagine all the college kids who will die of alcohol poisoning from downing a shot every time Giuliani mentions 9/11.

In the meantime, someone really should warn those clowns that they ought to get off the train now, or risk being hit by the inevitable pigeon droppings.

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