Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Gingrich Surge/Car Crash

It is a seriously flogged horse to say that the Presidential politics of the US is the most ugly, crazy, un-inspiring rubbish available on basic cable. I can feel my soul eroding just watching these characters compete to be the craziest idiot at the gun fair.

I seriously need to get away from this bull, but it's like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Everyday you can see other pieces of the bumper bend and break, the engine crumpling, -will the airbags fail to open? - the faces of the people in the car widening their eyes and bracing for impact as the seat-belts stretch under the strain.

Newt Gingrich is a long-odds front-runner for the Republican nomination, but one with a 20 point lead in the polls over Mitt Romney. Barney Frank (Democrat of Massachusetts) says he doesn't feel that he's lived a good enough life to be able to run against a Republican party that nominates Newt Gingrich for president.

I happen to agree: Gingrich will fall away and the nominee will be Mitt Romney and he and Obama will have a nice little bloodless campaign in which Obama will win with 50.0000001% of the vote.

That is my prediction, and since I've made one, I now have to follow it to the end. The airbags (Mitt Romney) will open and the wide-eyed faces of those people in the car will be covered and saved by their soft embrace. Then those airbags will slowly deflate and the car-wreck will be left, still and silent, on the side of the road.

But the longer it takes for those airbags to open, the longer it goes that Romney sits on 22% in Republican polls, the more tension those watching will feel, the more and more likely it seems that this car wreck is going to be ugly, with faces splayed across the dashboard.

What happens if the airbags refuse to open?

Gingrich has a litany of sleaze, fraud, flip-flops, affairs and convictions on his record that no other politician can boast.

This is a man who left two wives, both of whom were hospitalised with potentially terminal illnesses at the time he served them with divorce papers.

This is the man who was in the third year of an affair when condemning, moralising over and impeaching President Clinton for doing exactly the same thing with Monica Lewinsky.

He is the Speaker of the House with the largest ever fine ($300,000) for ethics violations relating to campaign finance fraud, and the only Speaker to be convicted of ethics violations by a house committee. The House voted 395-28 to convict him - including 198 Republicans - making his recent claims that it was a 'partisan witch hunt' patently false.

And that's just for starters. But right now he's on about 40% in national polls of Republican voters with less than a month until the votes start getting counted. Everything this guy says is tainted by his repugnant persona, his hypocrisy, his life being the lie he accuses his opponent of.

His presence has made the dialogue horrifying. Take his comments about 'helping' children from poor backgrounds:

He also suggests that poor children should be assistant janitors in schools "to sweep the floor and clean the bathrooms" and that child labour laws should be repealed.

It is like he doesn't remember what school was like. He doesn't realise that those kids would immediately become a second class within the student body, attacked and bullied by their peers. I worked after school, as did my wife, doing service stuff (I set-up for the archery club and put up the tennis nets) but it wasn't part of a program to 'help poor kids' so there was no stigma. As soon as the category is created there would be an underclass of poor students whose job it would be to serve and clean up the mess left by the others - it's repugnant.

That's before we even address how condescending and vilifying these statements are, saying that simply because one is from a poor background, one has no idea what work is. In many cases it is quite the opposite.

Or, indeed, mention that this proposal is, in essence, a green light for children to be pressed into work for a pittance at whatever age they are able - be it by their parents or by the state.

Watching the Republican party rally to these sorts of proposals chills the blood and marks out why elections matter.

Funnily enough, they matter in the same way that airbags matter: if you're doing fine, making money, got yourself a nice business or a great job in a robust sector, then elections don't matter too much - you'll be taxed either 35% or 38% depending on who wins, the trains will be more or less often delayed, the roads better paved or not - that sort of thing.

But if you crash - if you are doing badly, if something goes wrong for you, then elections start to matter a hell of a lot more, as then you'll want some kind of way out of your situation and you might not find it in the private sector. You want incentives for hiring, or you want decent healthcare, or you want adequate public transport, or a fire engine, or a policeman at your door within five minutes. Then you want that airbag, though you may never use it.

The Republicans need Romney now to save face, but will they realise it in time? He has shown no signs of flourishing. Maybe he never will.

This could get SO ugly.

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