The current leaders of the Republican pack -- Romney, Santorum and Gingrich -- represent the GOP’s three classic prototypes – the Corporate Moneybags, the Christian Jihadist and the Evil Genius. These three types have dominated national Republican politics for decades as evidenced, for example, by George H. W. Bush, Dan Quayle and Richard Nixon. Or John McCain (through marriage), Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney.
It’s actually a bit of a stretch to call Newt Gingrich a genius, but the evil part is self-evident. Dumping divorce papers on his first wife, while she lay in bed recovering from cancer surgery pretty much speaks for itself, as does having an adulterous affair behind his second wife’s back while attacking Clinton for his adulterous affairs. Then there’s the censure from Congress for ethical violations.
Think about that for a minute: Gingrich’s ethics did not even measure up to the minimal standards that Congress sets for itself. Yes, I’m talking about the same Congress that legalizes insider trading – but only for itself – and provides health and retirement benefits for itself that it routinely labels as “socialism” when granted to the rest of us mortals.
Where Gingrich’s unspoken motto might be “Power! Must have power!” Santorum’s is more along the lines of “People who no stuff about evolution and global warming and things like that shood just shut up.”
But wait. I’m not sure that Santorum is simply dumb. After all, he earned a B.A. with honors in political science from Penn State and followed this up with an MBA and a law degree. (Hmm. I wonder why he called Obama a snob for promoting college education.) No, rather than raw stupidity, I believe Santorum is motivated by fear. In fact, where pride is the primary motivator of the GOP Evil Genius type, fear is the besetting sin of the Christian Jihadists. Santorum and his followers look at the world as a scary place, and they have an irresistible yearning for the kind of security that doesn’t exist in reality, but that a fanatic attachment to religious ideology can conjure up as an imaginary refuge.
Santorum’s followers want the world to consist of white people who go to church and who will someday go to heaven, except for the ones who enjoy sex or vote for Obama. Suddenly coming to mind as I write this is a hefty white woman from West Virginia who, during the 2008 election was asked by a reporter why she opposed Barack Obama. “I don't like the Hussein,” she began, “I’ve had enough of Hooosane!” - emphasizing this last word with a twangy self-assurance.
Her problems with Obama were that he was not a white guy and he had the same last name as a Third World tyrant that the U.S. had recently demolished. More than anything, she was afraid of people who were different from herself and her neighbors. This, I believe, is the foundation on which Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum build their candidacies.
Mitt Romney, like Gingrich, is driven largely by pride. (Of course all candidates, Republican and Democrat, are suffused with more than a daily recommended dosage of high self-regard. After all, how could a humble person aspire to be president?)
But where Gingrich’s pride is bursting with a deranged megalomania, Romney’s churns with a strong, insistent current of greed. Making lots and lots of money is what Romney’s life has been all about, and his “Make government smaller” position is code for “Don’t let those pesky regulations stop me from siphoning more money out of the middle class into my own bank accounts.” This, after all, was Bain Capital’s primary objective when Romney ran it.
Romney with the ones he loves (which are being held by some people he knows)
In addition to these GOP types, of course, there is also Ron Paul, the only one among them who everyone knew from the start could never be president. GOP leaders reject him because they like our monstrous military budget and regard it as a source of strength. Of course, a quick look at history will remind anyone that America became really strong by NOT going to war in the 1930s when the other great powers were bankrupting themselves doing so. Score one for Ron Paul, when he points out that we don’t actually have to spend billions of dollars to station troops in, e.g., Germany.
But Paul is rejected by GOP leaders (and almost everyone else) because of his extreme views on economics. I’ve been looking for a neutral, university-based economist who accepts his rather nineteenth-century economic ideas (eliminate the Fed, go back to the gold standard), but so far I haven’t found any. The economists I have spoken to assure me that following Paul’s economic policies would plunge us into a depression worse than the one we experienced in the 1930s.
So, though I do wish political leaders, Democrat and Republican, would give his foreign policy ideas some consideration (without buying into them wholesale), I’m grateful that nobody believes in his economic plans. I will say for him that at least he is neither a phony nor a standard issue Republican. He’s just an honest but hopeless case. And I wouldn’t at all object to him mounting a third party candidacy…
What to Learn from Miss May, 1781
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