The GOP hate-off continues

Romney's inevitable, but Newt's far-right backers are ready to destroy the Massachusetts moderate to win in 2016

Topics: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, 2012 Elections, Editor's Picks, ,

The GOP hate-off continuesRepublican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, reacts to supporters at his Florida primary primary night rally in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Credit: AP)

Mitt Romney won the most important Republican presidential primary to date, taking Florida with 46 percent of the vote, to 32 for Newt Gingrich. But Gingrich vows to soldier on, and I expect him to. This is a hate-off.

The Republican Party is split between its two personalities: Predatory finance capital and angry white male faux-populism. That’s trouble enough. Add to that Gingrich’s fury at Romney’s bottomless pockets full of nasty ads, and this is a party headed for a crack-up.

November’s still a long way away, but it’s hard to imagine President Obama losing Florida after the slime-fest we’ve just witnessed. Both Gingrich and Romney are seeing their negatives go up as the campaign goes on, while Obama’s approval rating continues to climb. I think the president is largely responsible for his ratings rise, because he’s brought the fight to the GOP since the debt-ceiling debacle.

But one thing Romney clearly had going for him when the race began, in the face of Tea Party suspicion about his conservative credentials, was that voters viewed him benignly. Between revelations about his tax rate plus his Bain Capital work, and Gingrich’s relentless attacks, Romney’s losing the main thing he had going for him, his generic affability. In November, polls showed Romney beating Obama by 13 points in Florida; recent polls give Obama the edge, 44 to 36 percent. If the hate-off continues, it will hurt him in November, and not just in Florida.

Romney pretends to disagree. “A competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us, and we will win,” he told the cheering crowd of Florida supporters Tuesday night. Deep-pockets Mitt also claimed he was running “a people’s campaign,” even though his anti-Gingrich ads outnumbered pro-Gingrich ads by a staggering 13,000 to 200 in Florida.

So does Gingrich have a prayer? Not really. But he’s still picking up the remnants of the Tea Party brigade. Rick Perry, of course, endorsed him right away, Herman Cain (hilariously) joined him this week. And just as she did in South Carolina, Sarah Palin held back from formally endorsing Gingrich, but again told voters they ought to vote for him in this race, just to keep the contest going (and bug liberals, as though liberals wouldn’t be elated to see Obama run against Newt). What’s she up to? I think Palin and other far-right Gingrich supporters would be thrilled to bloody Romney and see him lose to Obama. That would let them argue that GOP moderates are electoral poison, and only a sharp turn right will bring the party back from the dead. In fact, if Romney is the nominee and loses to Obama, it will likely be because he stiffed independents and moderates to make that sharp turn right, turning his back on climate change and his own healthcare reform, as well as running to Gingrich’s right on immigration with his pledge to veto the DREAM act.



No matter what Gingrich or Palin does, Romney will also be a tough sell in November, because he’s so undeniably Mr. 1 Percent (or I guess Mr. .0006 percent), the face of the forces of wealth Americans are beginning to scowl at. In his victory speech Tuesday he took a moment to recall that Obama promised that if he didn’t improve the economy, voters should make him a one-term president, and he declared, “Well, I’m here to collect.” It wasn’t quite “I like to be able to fire people,” but it did sound like the landlord or the bill collector at the door. Romney continues to seem like he’s doing his best imitation of a human being, but he hasn’t quite mastered it yet.

But Gingrich’s rambling, grandiose speech went off the rails. The crowd waved signs saying “46 states to go,” and their man told them “we are going to contest every place and we are going to win.” He never actually “conceded” to Romney; the speech was a long, bizarre peroration on the things he’d do his first day in office, when he’s sworn in as president, which a reality-based candidate would know will never happen. It was mostly garden-variety GOP stuff – repeal Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley. But it also included a wet kiss for Sheldon Adelson — a promise “to instruct the State Department, that day, to open the embassy in Jerusalem” – plus a generic red-meat promise to repeal “every anti-religious act of the Obama administration, as of that moment.” Even his daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, wore a frozen, pained smile as the speech wore on; the crowd’s clapping ebbed with every delusional promise.

The night hit bottom, though, when Gingrich’s former communications director Rick Tyler, now running his friendly super PAC, told Rachel Maddow and Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC that the Democrats were the party that aborted black babies, and that African-Americans live in housing projects and collect welfare checks, and need the movie “Red Tails” because they lack role models – as though that guy in the White House isn’t a black role model, one of millions. It was the GOP id unleashed.

If you watch television for 30 seconds you’ll hear pundits (including me) grasp to compare the ongoing 2012 GOP primary to the long 2008 Democratic contest. But there’s really no comparison. The 2008 Clinton-Obama showdown had its bitter moments, but nothing like the unrelenting nastiness of this race. And people who argued that the extended contest was pumping up voter interest in the November election and building and mobilizing the Democratic base turned out to be right.

The GOP hate-off isn’t having that effect: Turnout in the first three 2012 contests was flat, and in Florida it was down from 2008. Given the conventional MSM wisdom that the Tea Party-dominated Republican base is some newly invigorated electoral powerhouse that can’t wait to get to the polls to turn out Barack Hussein Obama, you’d expect a whole lot more people to be casting votes as the 2012 campaign gets into gear. But then the MSM has taken the Tea Party way too seriously from the start. Still, it’s hard for any of us to read the new GOP. There will be a rote quality to the coverage from here on out, because Romney’s nomination is almost certain. Yet we still have to pay attention to see how far the right wing will go to destroy the former Massachusetts moderate who has indulged their every demand – except that he leave the race.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>