In the ashes of last night’s primary in South Carolina, I look back at my (not terribly bold) predictions and reassess. Crowley, for one, is not impressed.
1. Whatever the fuck happens, Newt will declare victory. What do you know? The bastard won by 12%. In his victory speech, he did indeed trot out the “President Food Stamps” racist garbage, name dropped Saul Alinsky (insider baseball much, Newt?), accused the President of not being “American,” and shouted about his intention to “release the American people!” from the evil, “liberal” black guy who lives at 1600. So your standard Newt bullshit.
More interesting to me were his attempts at magnanimousness towards (in order) Santorum, Dr. Paul, and Mittens. This came after Santorum slobbered all over Newt during his concession speech. Hmm. I wonder if they are cooking up some anti-Romney tag team action for Monday night’s debate, or (as the really, really drunk) crowd at Newt’s rally chanted when he mentioned Rick’s name: “VP! VP! VP!”
I am not looking forward to what will surely be a masterful performance of bragadaccio and asshattedness from Newt during this week’s debates. Even my dad, who is firmly onboard the Obama train, keeps (reluctantly) praising Newt for his ability to think on his feet. Which, to be fair, Romney is so very, very bad at that it’s kind of an unfair contest. Maybe Mittens would benefit from some improv classes. Seriously. Hey campaign people, think about that one. Let’s face it: Mitt is already awesome at “World’s Worst.”
2. Romney will lose, then claim his campaign’s goal was just to be competitive. The first words of Romney’s concession speech: “This race is getting even more interesting.” Yes, he went instantly meta! Awesome. He did not, in fact, make the claim I suggested above, but he did emphasize that he and his people are prepared for the long long long primary road ahead; hey, they knew it would be a tough slog, sure. That’s why last week, before the debates, they were calling SC case closed and making noises about moving on to Florida. Oh, Mitt-bot.
What’s amazing to me is how he’s able to operate with his emotion chip missing. He has zero ability to connect with people, it seems, on rope lines, in his speeches, during debates–based on what I’ve seen on the telly, anyway. And I speak as someone who finds it difficult to interact with people; I know what that kind of discomfort looks like, what that awkward laughter sounds like. He’s just not comfortable doing it, and yet that’s like job #1 for presidential candidates. And he’s been running for eight years!! You’d think he would have learned to fake it by now.
3. Santorum will finish last (ahem) and yet refuse to withdraw from the race. Senator Sweater Vest did not finish last–that honor went to Ron Paul, He of The Sweater With Sleeves. Once the polls closed, though, Santorum’s people put word out right away that he would not be withdrawing from the race. In fact, there’s a piece in the New York Times today about how he sees his campaign going on for the long haul. Hoo boy.
I’m torn on this: Santorum staying in is a win for comedy, especially if he keeps trotting out his sons wearing matching sweater vests. But he is also nasty and divisive and, I think, genuinely hateful in his attitudes towards anyone whose performance of sexuality doesn’t meet his god’s definition of heteronormative excellence. And yet–and yet, he seems remarkably willing NOT to point out Newt’s utter hypocrisy in screwing around on two wives and yet lecturing the populace about the awesomeness of his values. I can’t understand this cognitive dissonance as anything other than any kind of hetero–even lying, cheating, non-monogamous, exposing your unknowing spouse to STDs hetero–is better than That Which Must Not Be Named.