There is something seriously wrong with a political party where it is more controversial and exotic to speak French than in tongues. Given this acid trip facsimile of reality, it was inevitable that the Republican presidential primaries have come down to the Slickest vs. The Sickest.
On the slick side is Newt Gingrich, the career politician who got rich off lobbying and switched wives and religions three times, yet is running as a “family values” Washington outsider.
Mitt Romney also personifies slick with his perfectly coifed hairdo and a propensity to take more positions than a triple-jointed hooker. He keeps talking about personal responsibility and demanding that Americans take a spoonful of castor oil, even as the silver spoon dangles from his mouth. Today, Romney admitted that he pays an effective tax-rate of only 15%, much lower than middle class Americans, and significantly less than President Barack Obama who paid just over 26% on his 2012 tax returns.
Romney, the pampered patrician, keeps pretending he’s slumming but we all know he’ll be “summering” if he doesn’t get the nomination. During one debate in Iowa, he foolishly challenged Gov. Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet as if it were pocket change. Today he solidified his “out of touch” image by saying, “I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away… I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.” The New York Times reports, however, that Romney earned $374,327.62 in speakers’ fees from February of 2010 to February of 2011, at an average of $41,592 per speech.
Romney’s gaffe is reminiscent of George H.W. Bush who looked disconnected from real Americans in 1992 when he came across a grocery store scanner for the first time. The New York Times wrote about the incident in a story headlined, “Bush Encounters the Supermarket, Amazed”:
As President Bush travels the country in search of re-election, he seems unable to escape a central problem: This career politician, who has lived the cloistered life of a top Washington bureaucrat for decades, is having trouble presenting himself to the electorate as a man in touch with middle-class life.
Today, for instance, he emerged from 11 years in Washington’s choicest executive mansions to confront the modern supermarket…he grabbed a quart of milk, a light bulb and a bag of candy and ran them over an electronic scanner. The look of wonder flickered across his face again as he saw the item and price registered on the cash register screen.
Obviously, Bush lost his race and I suspect that President Barack Obama will be able to defeat a man who believes that $374,327 is little more than Monopoly Money.
When it comes to “The Sickest,” obviously we are talking about Rick Santorum, since Michele Bachmann has dropped out of the race. If he actually mattered, we could also be talking about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who invokes Jesus’ name so often that he makes Tim Tebow look like Dr. Richard Dawkins.
In his infinite wisdom, Perry wants a part-time Congress so House and Senate members can go back to their home states and get “real jobs.” Which will work out fine until we have to hold off on declaring war against an enemy state because the night manager at Waffle House won’t let Congressman X leave the late shift to return to Capitol Hill. Indeed, we already had a part-time president in the endlessly vacationing George W. Bush and look how well that turned out.
Back to the Opus Dei loving Santorum — he’s just plain nuts. Consider the infamous fetus in a jar situation:
In his Senate office, on a shelf next to an autographed baseball, Sen. Rick Santorum keeps a framed photo of his son Gabriel Michael, the fourth of his seven children. Named for two archangels, Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb. Upon their son’s death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen’s parents’ home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.
This story is remarkable considering Santorum’s wife had previously dated a well-known abortion doctor forty years her senior! With her incredible flip-flopping on abortion, maybe she should have married Mitt Romney?
Most of the media is afraid to admit the obvious: The GOP contenders are loopy clowns selling a field of schemes. The Religious Right ensures that one can only get the nomination through insanity (Santorum) or by faking insanity (Romney). Until this radical special interest group is permanently expelled from the Republican Party, the fringe binge will continue and Ron Paul will often look like the sanest one on-stage.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”