Let me get this straight.
The winner of the three Republican primary elections yesterday was not King Croesus the Presumed, with his bags of gold and his foot-in-mouth disease. Nor was it Nuclear Newt the Nut Job, the only Speaker of the House ever removed by his own party for ethics violations (and seriously, what do you have to do to make that happen that doesn't involve a goat or a Twitter account or both?). It wasn’t even the Gilded Age Hero on his quest to set the Wayback Machine on the United States to 1875, complete with robber barons, incipient revolution among exploited wage slaves, and a society where blacks and women understand their subordination to the master race and/or gender, at least in theory, and where they can be horsewhipped if they don’t.
No, when standing there at the polls and faced with the weighty issue of who shall be one of the two main people vying for the highest office this republic has to offer, the majority of Republicans in three of the states of this great union declared their preference to be … (wait for it) … Rick Santorum.
The same guy who was voted “Dumbest Person in the Pennsylvania Legislature” by his colleagues? That Rick Santorum?
The guy whose main qualification for office is that the bigots and the halfwits of this great nation need representation too? That Rick Santorum?
I may need to lie down for a while.
The lesson here is fairly obvious, really. The Republican Party has collapsed. It is a dead party. If it weren’t nailed to its perch it would be pushing up daisies. It has joined the choir invisible. It has no serious ideas. It has no leadership. Other than platitudes, half-remembered nostrums, an unending supply of bile, and a frighteningly inaccurate fantasy version of American history, it is a bankrupt and empty organization. This doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous or powerful – anyone who’s tried to deal with a cornered rat can tell you that such creatures can do an awful lot of harm even in their death throes. But clearly it no longer has any serious interest in winning the 2012 presidential election, a surprising tactic when facing a fairly weak president in a damaged economy.
A while ago The Onion published an article about how the Republicans were going to throw this election because they felt that the responsibility of actually governing the country in a grown-up fashion was beyond their core mission of obstruction, harassment and generally thwarting meaningful governance. Far better that they should stay the course with idiotic slogans designed to appeal to that segment of the electorate for which “lowest common denominator” is an aspiration rather than a description. Concentrate on your strengths, they said.
It’s always sort of disappointing when The Onion actually becomes hard news.
I suppose I should be happy about this, in a tactical sense.
King Croesus the Presumed is going to need to devote a sizable fraction of his vast hoard of gold to going after his fellow Republicans rather than his opposition, and he will emerge as a damaged and dispirited nominee fronting a disenchanted base whose main point of satisfaction will be that At Least He's Not The Black Guy In The White House. And if you think the racial angle won't play a large part in all this, you haven't been paying attention.
Nuclear Newt is sure to provide more negative campaign coverage on King Croesus the Presumed than the Democratic strategists could come up with if they were provided an unlimited budget and a coke addict’s paranoia – I’m guessing the Democrats may just buy the rights to Nuclear Newt’s campaign outright and save themselves the trouble of filming their own commercials.
And Santorum? What can you do with an electorate that thinks that man is capable of doing anything more productive than digesting his lunch? He’ll keep up his campaign until it becomes clear that he can’t win, embarrassing the republic across the world, and then he’ll keep it up some more.
Of course he may yet win. Any of them could win the nomination at this point.
And that, my friends, is a truly frightening thought. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, but a great many people have gotten elected that way.
Gonna be a long, long year.