If you think you had a rough week, look at the one Mitt Romney just experienced.
At a debate he was booed when he hesitated about his tax returns. Then the GOP announced that Rick Santorum was the official winner in Iowa, despite the fact that Romney outspent him by a mere 50 to 1.
For a man who’s been chasing the presidency for six years, it had to be discouraging when, a few days before the South Carolina primary, Sarah Palin said, “If I were a South Carolinian I’d vote for Newt [Gingrich].” (Ouch!) Then on Saturday he got thoroughly trounced by Gingrich. And worse, on Tuesday Romney predicted to lose in Florida. It looks like he can’t buy one — literally.
Gingrich, of course, is the thrice-married former speaker of the House whose candidacy is an utter mystery. In 1997 a GOP controlled Congress voted 395 to 28 to reprimand and fine Newt $300,000 for ethics violations. In 1998, Newt resigned in disgrace. How 14 years later he’s considered presidential timber beats me. That’s like putting sour milk back into the refrigerator hoping it’ll taste better later.
But despite Newt’s momentum Willard is a fighter. Consider that even though he’s been “unemployed” for the past six years he manages to keep his chin up. (Admittedly easier to do when you have mega-millions parked in the Cayman Islands.) Remember in Iowa the infamous $10,000 bet he made to Rick Perry in a disagreement over health care? Willard made $10,000 sound like $5. With the release of his tax returns, now we know why.
Riding high, Gingrich brags that he’s a man with “big” ideas. (Notice I’m not doing any fat jokes.) One idea apparently came to him while he was cheating on wife No. 2 with future wife No. 3. His big idea was to impeach Bill Clinton for … cheating on his wife. Can you say hypocrite?
Newt’s inexplicable excuse for his serial adultery was that he loved his country so much and worked such long hours it caused him to make “poor decisions.” By that logic every time Newt was doing it with a mistress, he was really just demonstrating his patriotism. (Curiously, when Newt left wife No. 1, she was seriously ill and the same was true with wife No. 2. The moral: If you marry Newt, don’t get sick.)
Frankly, many things Romney and Gingrich say seem incredibly disingenuous. In Florida Romney told a group of unemployed voters that he understood their plight, “After all, I’m unemployed, too.” (With a Cayman connection and Swiss bank account.) And Newt continues to claim the $1.6 million he received from Freddie Mac was not as a lobbyist but as a “historian.” (Excuse me while I spit out my coffee.)
I’m sorry to be so blunt but I find Romney slick and phony. (A “mannequin of the people.”) And some of his answers are just strange. When asked about income inequality in America, which hasn’t been this great since the Great Depression, Willard reluctantly said it would be OK to discuss it but only “in quiet rooms.” What does that mean?
And Newt is just perpetually crabby. He purports to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan but has none of Reagan’s charm. And he’s legendary for childish temper tantrums, one which caused him to be 86’d off of Air Force One because he didn’t like his seat. It’s not surprising that even many Republicans aren’t pleased with the field, especially the two front runners.
As reported in the American Conservative magazine, Newt is referred to as the “anti-Goldwater.” Whereas “Goldwater was the principled guy who couldn’t win but built a movement, Newt is the unprincipled guy who can’t win and might smash that same movement.” And Romney, the consummate 1 percenter, is not the favorite of the Tea Party and has flip-flopped on so many issues he’s a political trampoline.
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, puts the odds at 50-50 of an open Republican Convention in August. (As opposed to an open marriage.) This means that someone not currently running could be the ultimate nominee. One name being put forward is Jeb Bush. Except, of course, that would bring up memories of his older brother. (Cue the ominous music.) Notice at the debates how nobody ever mentions W.
With the prospect of an open convention, I suppose it could be worse. Nobody’s suggesting Sarah Palin. At least not yet. But she might be more popular than Romney. Poor Willard. So rich, so close, so far.
Check out Jack’s blog at www.jneworth.blogspot.com or e-mail him at Jnsmdp@aol.com.