One unavoidable downside, perhaps moral hazard of allowing Republicans to be on television all of the time during their primary season is the enormous clouds of dirt they will kick up, a kind of blackening over of the television screen, what with their disquisitions on the cunning of the poor, the purported foundational ethos of ruthless capitalism in American life they attempt to drum into the heads of all susceptible, their patented ethnocentric vision of American invincibility and unaccountability, along with their visceral scorn for, well, everybody who isn’t them.
The picture of the United States that comes into view on one’s little television box (or more likely Himalayan size box) is the ugliest side of American life,, their side in my view, an America of moral superiority, imperial arrogance, that denigrates the weak and powerless, of petulant resentfulness and victimhood.
In Romney and Gingrich, their current front-runners, we get the priceless anatomical anomaly that is two humans without one single sincere bone between the pair of bodies. Two men with this degree of cynicism; opportunism, meretriciousness, pure calculation and moral hollowness at the same time makes one fearful a black hole of cynical density has been created that may suck all of us in and and crush us.
The Republican Party really has become the home of insulting insincerity, what with its simultaneous public Puritanism and private swinging, Madison Ave. designed version of “patriotism,” its infomercial quality pitches of the founding fathers, avowals of tax cuts without deficit consequences. Give them credit: when it comes to what is awful about America they often seem to have it all.
Romney for all his political artificiality and brittle ineptness has become a brisk and effortless liar, falsely claiming the economy has lost jobs under President Obama for instance, or that only the private sector creates American employment. What he will pick and choose from the menu of his past all-encompassing alternating positions for the general election Machiavelli himself could not predict. He will elevate the place of phoniness in the American lexicon to a prominence J.D. Salinger could never even imagine.
Beside Mitt’s plastic grin of predatory capitalism stands Newt’s antediluvian prejudices and wild-eyed obscurantism, You have to like the Republicans chances this fall, you really do.
What the press dwells little upon, if at all, is the amount of poison injected into the body politic and the larger culture by Newt’s “cleverly” cynical resort to race-baiting and Nixonian sleaze. There is harm done to us all by the toxins demagogues and cynics launch into the air we breath. It may not be readily apparent or immediately apparent but it seeps into the national physiognomy and sets us all back. This is certain, widely acknowledged or not.
Newt’s ego prevents him from considering that being facile enough to have an answer for every question isn’t the same as having a credible answer, or an answer that does you more good than harm. Comparing your circumstances to Ronald Reagan’s hoping observers will fail to note all that is unequal between you and the Great Man, or that love of country excited you to infidelity is evidence of his galloping lack of self-awareness.
The good news is that even the GOP establishment, not a moderate and ideologically temperate bunch itself, though one that cherishes power to the point of fetish knows, is that Gingrich’s ravings about Saul Alinsky and Kenyan anti-colonialism are augurs of electoral college apocalypse for the Republican Party,
Perhaps the legacy of Nixon is sufficient for them to recognize a bottomless darkness in Newt Gingrich that scares even them. One can reasonably expect The Newt’s kneecaps to undergo complete remodeling in the near future by some combat brigade of the Rove wing. In the meantime the rest of us will have the choice of tuning out the political world or swallowing mouthfuls of bitter grit and grime.