Monday, December 5, 2011

Swamp Creature

I think a good case can be made that the scorched-earth destructiveness of our current politics, the idea that the main aim of one party (in the view of one party, anyway) is to destroy the other one, that tearing down a president of the opposite party is more important than building up the country, arose from the steamy swamp that is Newt Gingrich, with his contract on America, his inflammatory Speakership, his hard-on for impeachment. Nor has he mellowed with age or a couple of new wives.

Memes develop and become conventional wisdom: in the case of Newt, oversize hat in the ring, it's that he has a bloated ego and considers himself the smartest guy in the room. That simply by virtue of having issued from between his loquacious lips, his words are definitionally and, as he'd say, transformationally, brilliant. Indeed, I've said as much here a few times. In this case, the meme is unquestionably (as he'd also say) true. There's something deeply off-putting about the guy, both in what he says and how he says it. More often than not, he's as full of shit as he is full of himself.

And yet.

I also find him sort of intriguing, in a perverse way. If Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry or Sarah Palin or Herman Cain or Rick Froth were the nominee, it'd signify the end of America as we know it, even when they inevitably lost. Because there's simply no way a people half of whom would propose such as those as presidential timber could long survive. Mitt Romney's nomination wouldn't make such a dreadful statement, I suppose; but he's such a sleazy panderer who'll say and do anything to get elected, who has, with no apparent shame, based his campaign (since he has no actual beliefs) on the lie that President Obama hates America, that I find the prospect of him as president equally as repellent as that of any of the others.

With reservations, I'd be fine with Huntsman.

He has no chance.

But Newt.

I can't stand the guy, with his smug simpering and tendency to bloviate untethered. Easy lie the lies that lie within him (cf: I'm not a lobbyist.) But for some damn reason, I don't quite view the prospect of a Gingrich nomination as denoting the end of the electorate's ability to think straight. Given their other choices, were Republicans to draw his card, it wouldn't have been from the bottom of the deck. If one looks at politics as entertainment (the best I can do to stay sane) and as the Republican party as a circus act, there's a certain mordant fascination with the idea of Newt Gingrich floating steatorrheaically to the top of the big top. He was Speaker of the House, after all. Sure, the only one ever tossed because of ethical violations, but still. Christians, evidently, are more inclined to love a guy who sinned (ethics, adultery, lying) and repented than one who, like Mitt, seems never to have sinned at all. Especially if the latter isn't even a real Christian.

And, confoundingly for a party embracing Sarah Palin's war on knowledge and expertise, Mr Speaker was a professor. Who wasn't granted tenure, to be sure; from a college no one ever heard of. Nevertheless the paradox is interesting.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's not impossible to understand -- and not entirely shocking, at least compared to the previously enumerated ignorami -- that a few quasi-thoughtful people could ask Newt for a dance. How they could do so while leaving Jon Huntsman on the sidelines is inexplicable; but if you just look at Newt qua Newt, list his CV and ignore his reality, don't scratch below the surface, he could be considered legitimate.

I know: I'm not making sense. But, unlike the rest of the Republican field, who are mostly a waste of Krebs cycle enzymes, there's something about Newt from which I can't entirely look away. As with cancer, there's both abhorrence and fascination about the fact that he exists.

And then, just as I finished writing the above, I saw this:

And I remembered what a dangerous, zealous theocrat he really is. Never mind the obvious lie in saying he doesn't care to whom you pray as long as you pray. The idea that unless you pray you have no moral compass is typical Christianist deluded self-importance. Coming from a guy who served divorce papers to his wife while she was hospitalized with cancer, and who calls for jailing people who failed to rein in Fannie and Freddie, while himself raking in one-point-three mill from Fanny and Freddie, whose moral compass -- evidence for the existence of which is thin indeed -- points neither to magnetic nor true north, it's pretty damn infuriating.

Had he his way, we'd be looking longingly at the freedoms found in those nations ruled by Sharia law. Those of us, that is, who believe that true religious freedom comes when the state separates itself from all of it. And those of us -- a group which also includes many of the religious among us -- whose view of religion differs from Newt's.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh Sid, sounds like somebodys a little Tenus-mis-y on a fine December Monday...(see your not the only one who can throw big latin words for bowel movements around...)
and your right about everythang except....
"A College No one ever heard of"?
I'm ass-uming you mean the University of West Jaw Jaw, since the other 2 Schools Newt was associated with are Tulane and Enema, I mean Emory..
There like Hah-vud if it wasn't in the rust belt and had a few black people...
and UWG(we pronounce it "UHG") was established in 1906, and was recently voted "BEST* University" by the Princeton Review.
And in addition to Newt, alumni include 70's Braves Pitcher Rick Camp, Author of the "Celeste Prophecy" James Redfield, and Justin "Big-un" Hatfield(Pharm D).
He's the pharmacist that keeps my ADD at bay...
And there football stadium holds 9,600 which is like 9,532 more than attended this years Hah-vud/Yale game...
You not what I hate about Newt?
His middle names "LeRoy" and he calls himself "Newt" instead of LeRoy(which means "Little King" BTW)


* Southeastern

Sid Schwab said...

Okay, I stand corrected about WGU. And I thank you for including Mr Hatfield; I can stop asking you to check the hoses prn, and address your supplier directly.

LeRoy means the king, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be fine with Huntsman. Even though he accepts that scientists often know what they're talking about, when it comes to tax policy he hears only the most simplistic economic advice and supports cutting the top rate to 24%.

He supports a right-to-life amendment and would make second-trimester abortion illegal. He supports term limits, which IMO increase the influence of lobbyists. He's for school vouchers.

He only seems sane by comparison with the lunatic fringe of the PoG.

Sid Schwab said...

You're right, Pieter. I guess what I meant was I'd be fine -- reservedly -- with him as a nominee, in the sense that it wouldn't necessarily indicate a completely insane "conservative" electorate. He has a certain credibility and seriousness. The rest of the lot or either certifiably insane, deliberate liars, or embarrassingly stupid, or some combination of all three. I wouldn't describe him as such.

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