Monday, June 13, 2011

Pod People

I have a theory. I won't claim it's the first time you might have heard it, since it occurs to me through the ethers, which, admittedly, pulsate with vibrations from all around. Anyhow, here it is:

Newt Gingrich was never serious about his candidacy; not, at least, in terms of winning.

Like Sarah Palin, Newt joneses for attention and loves considering himself relevant. Pathologically, the two are peas in a pod, salamanders in a sealskin boat: fraught with an overblown sense of self-importance, tendencies toward extreme hyperbole, faux seriousness, continual craving for fawning attention, which they get, among other means, in the employ of Fox "news"; all of it, most likely, born of insecurities the origins and details of which I don't claim to know, nor care to.

Since his ignominious expulsion from power so long ago that -- as is the case with American nanoseconds of political memory -- it's all but forgotten, Newt, like the silly filly from Wasilly, has made gazillions from auto-promotion. Both of them are self-milking cash cows: books, lectures, PACs, jobs on Fox, outright scams. Millions, pouring in from their unreflective fans. The only difference between them is that Newt was willing to take the fake-out a little further than Sarah, toss his ill-fitting hat into the ring. Guess he figures with his imaginary braininess (like Sarah's reality-exposed gunniness) and self-described (and media-repeated) ability to produce big ideas, he could hang in the mix through a few primaries, larding the larder laudably longer. La la la. (Interestingly, as I began writing this in the surgical lounge, between cases, I was unaware of this article.) (Yes, I was aware of the resignations -- that's what occasioned the post. I wasn't aware they were, among other things, a revolt against hucksterism which, I'd suggest, confirms my thesis.)

What sort of self-delusion leads a guy who was never much of a candidate, with ho-hum support, to describe his run as a "genuine grass-roots campaign," a "once or twice in a century" phenomenon? Is it blind and bloated egotism or blatant snake-oil salesmanship? Probably equal measures of both, adding up to one-hundred-fifty percent.

Even though he has no intentions or prospects of making it to the White House, which would require giving up his easy life and freely-flowing cash, I do believe Newt imagines that he'd be the greatest president ever. His shared insights into African anti-colonialism are but a tiny window into his ability to see truth by bulling through reality and landing on the other side. Sarah, on the other hand, having gotten a heavy taste of the highest life, would no more want such a hard job, one that'd require study and -- to the extent that she's even capable of it -- seriousness, than she'd stop using her kids as props and complaining about the fact that people talk about them. If she does think she'd be even a mediocre president, it's because she has no idea what it really involves, and because over at Fox "news" she's treated like her excreta don't emit unpleasant odors and every word that leaks out of her head comes pre-carved in marble.

Newt and Sarah: nearly unique among politicians for their genius at self-promotion and turning the combination of mindless media and feckless followers into a limitless cash machine; pretending to have serious intentions while in fact having nothing of the sort, other than their own self-aggrandizement, in heated empty rhetoric and cold hard cash. In that, we must acknowledge their genius. As serious players on the political stage, they embarrass us all; here, and around the world.

Despite their smoked mirror-imagery, one distinct difference between the two is that, given his cosmically inflated view of his own intellect, I'm sort of enjoying the slide show of Newt's freakish fizzle. He's gone from unwatchable to a kind of crash-scene craned-neck fascination. Seeing Sarah, on the other hand, remains, as always, like shoving burning bamboo under fingernails and scraping them on a blackboard while pulling them out with pliers. In a vise. On a waterboard.

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