Eye of the Newt

I was off politics. I can’t bring myself to think about the government any more than I absolutely have to because I’ll find myself turning into one of those shrill, crazy-sounding types – not quite frothing about lizard men and Bilderberg, but getting there, you know? Worrying.

I found the simplest solution to the horrible situation was to stop giving a shit and start laughing, and certainly the summer started well enough with the News of The World finally meeting a well deserved end, but it got less funny when people started setting fire to things and I had to start caring again. Caring about politics is acutely painful, especially when your side are on the skids and the lunatics are running the motherfucking asylum.

Fortunately there is a largely painless source of political entertainment on tap – America. I say largely painless because there were some excruciating moments in the Noughties and 2008 was a bowel loosening affair as the whole world contemplated the terrifying possibility that a barely-coherent tundra grifter could end up becoming second in command of the most powerful country on the planet.

But there’s nothing for anyone to worry about in the current Republican Primaries – they’re an absolute fucking shower, all of them. None of them have the slightest chance of beating Obama in the general. Say what you like about Barack Obama but he’s neither pants-on-head crazy, dumber than a bag of mentally challenged hammers or possessed of a morbid obsession with womens’ babyholes.

The GOP elephant has never been a more fitting symbol, because this cycle’s crop of candidates have had a sort of circus of the damned vibe about them – like a clown show, but if instead of just being slightly sinister the clowns were actually vicious misanthropes, homophobes and bigots. The most frightening thing was that the most exotic crazies didn’t flame out nearly as fast as Donald Trump and his wig. Dominionist nutjob Michelle Bachmann survived long enough to lose big in Iowa, and while fabulously mad pizza salesman Herman Cain didn’t even make it to the Iowa caucus, he did stick around long enough to give us some jaw-on-the-floor moments, including a nicotine stained mess of a campaign ad, submitting what appeared to be a Facebook doodle as a foreign policy document and recording a 9/11 tribute that was only saved from being The Most Tasteless Thing Ever by the existence of that horrifying 9/11 colouring book.

Now the field is down to four – a nebbishy-looking but certifiably insane foetus fetishist who you can’t even Google without gagging, everyone’s favourite racist Uncle, a squalling, pig-eyed manbaby who once accidentally scored high on an IQ test and will never let anyone forget it and Mitt Romney, who has recently been upgraded to run Windows 7.

Perhaps the most amusing thing about this primary has been the way nobody wants to admit that Romney is pretty much as good as it’s going to get. Nobody really wants him. He’s too bland and  too stupidly wealthy for a campaign that is bound to focus heavily on the worst excesses of Wall Street. So there’s been this hilarious dance of the Not-Romneys, as Republican voters entertained the possibility of people like Rick Perry (Dumbest Governor of Texas in living memory), Herman Cain (Handsy Dunning-Kruger carcrash who is confused by Libya.) and Rick ‘Faecal leakage’ Santorum. Even more hilarious, all of these people had to do one thing in order to remain the Not-Romney – all they had to do was not be complete and utter fuck-ups.

None of them could manage even that much.

So I started to think the hilarity was over. Obviously it had to be Romney, right? The only chance of comedy came from Newt Gingrich, who was bound to react badly to Romney’s victory and throw one of the petty, screaming thermonuclear tantrums for which he is rightly infamous. Newt came through, at least as far as backing King of Bain, a Michael Moorish half-hour film in which Romney is painted as a vultrine asset stripper with less heart than Dick Cheney. Perhaps the most mindboggling thing about the film was knowing it was being cheered on by Newt, an old school fuck-you-got-mine capitalist who appears to think ‘Reagan’ is a punctuation mark. Truly, we were through the looking glass here.

And then Newt came back. The attacks had obviously landed and Romney not only refused to talk about his tax returns but hadn’t won the Iowa Caucus after all.  Then Newt’s second ex-wife turned up to spill details of Newt’s astonishingly tawdry private life. All in one day. It’s very possible that ‘January 19th’ will become some kind of new Beltway shorthand, the only term appropriate to describe any day in which political journalists spend the entire manic day hooting like gibbons. Even the worst October Surprise doesn’t measure up to the sheer, staggering what-the-fuckery of a January 19th.

The funniest thing now is the way the Republican media are dealing with Newt. Before his resurgence they knew he was a charmless prick but in the desperate game of Find The Not-Romney they managed to entertain the possibility that he could be a candidate. He had experience, right? People knew who he was. He looked like a Republican candidate – a fat old white dude who never stopped spewing bullshit. Yeah, okay, he was a raging anus, a shocking hypocrite and a serial adulterer who managed to shut down the government in a fit of personal pique – but he wasn’t Mitt Romney.

Then he crashed and burned in Iowa and you could almost hear the resigned sighs on Fox News as they realised they were stuck with Romney. That’s how much Republicans dislike Mitt Romney – that they’re once again prepared to pretend that Newt Gingrich is not one of the most unpleasant human beings currently sucking oxygen. The best part is that since the ex-wife interview and Newt’s astonishing toadlike blow-up at the South Carolina debate is that his supporters are almost embracing his foulness. It’s just Newt being Newt – he’s a passionate man. So he talks to other people like they’re shit on his shoe and words can’t even begin to describe how it feels to experience the full repulsive force of his spoilt, broken and spiteful personality, but hey – he has a personality, which is more than Romney ever had.

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