One of the joys of this very entertaining political season is that you get to see more than one Republican bite the dust, humiliated in defeat. Who could restrain themselves after the gloriously sullen exit of Fred Thompson, the darling of the right-wing bloggers? How could you deny the joy of seeing the self-appointed mayor of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, slink off the national stage with his one delegate after spending $50 million, or whatever?
These are heady times, where the inflated heads of self-righteousness meet their just rewards rather than be rewarded. Thompson left to save what is left of his TV career (anyone in the market for a cranky elitist?); Rudy left to save his consulting firm (although who would pay for his great advice is anyone's guess). Both started their campaigns in the rarified air of media anointment. Both were forgotten the moment they walked off their last podium (in Thompson's case, sooner). As he mumbled into his tie after his embarrassing crash in Florida, Giuliani could barely look up, for fear someone else in the room would see him and decide not to vote for him. Fred couldn't be bothered to even show up in public -- he is the first loser to quit by e-mail, the last insult to the public of a classless man.
I always hoped for more from Mitt Romney. I wanted Romney to get the GOP nomination so bad. No one else represented so exquisitely all that is bad in American politics -- the greed; the say-anything-to-win emptiness; the soulless Bob-Forehead public facade; the willingness to use fear to drive aimless citizens into his empty arms; Bush with better hair. His nomination would have put in high contrast all that is wrong with the Republicans and all that is right with the Democrats. With Romney as the GOP nominee, we could have expected 30 more seats in the House and a filibuster-proof margin in the Senate. The resulting 40-state landslide would have driven the Republicans out of power for good.
Alas, cooler heads prevailed in the GOP primaries to date. Apparently, those calling themselves Republicans have grown up, at least a little, from the thumb-sucking Bush indulgences that we have suffered through for eight years. While the nut-right evangelical fringe coalesced around nice-but-wrong Mike Huckabee, enough of the rest went to nice-but-wrong John McCain by default. Meanwhile, anyone with any sense turned their backs on the cold, calculating Romney, who is to human warmth as the equator is to icebergs. How bad can you be personally if you are less-liked in the candidate green-rooms than Rudy Giuliani? The often genuinely-funny McCain spent the last couple of debates delightfully poking sticks in Romney's narrow eyes, while the clueless Mitt was left to wonder why all these people were laughing at him. Because it was fun, you dork.
Also not laughing and not getting how funny they are is the mainstream radio and blogger wing-nuts, who in recent days hitched their last hopes for fooling America into another Bush-like term on Romney. After making sure he sold his soul, Fox Noise gave Rudy tons of free exposure and love, none of which translated to anything but falling poll numbers. Local bloggers fell for Thompson like the little puppy dogs that Fred couldn't even be bothered to bend over to pet. When the aw-let's-get-it-over-with bandwagon started rolling for McCain in the past couple of weeks, the wailing and gnashing of teeth by self-appointed "true conservatives" reached jet-takeoff decibel levels, broadcast over tinny AM radios turned up to 11. Many of them put their hands over their black hearts and pledged never to vote for him, as if the mere threat of non-support by a cheap punk like Sean Hannity means anything to anyone.
The same week many of the Reagan-fetish faithful jumped onto his campaign boat, Romney pulled the plug and left them all to drown. Appearing at the epicenter of the nut-right intellegencia -- the C-PAC convention -- Romney let 'er rip in a horrible screed of flaky extremism. For instance, he blamed pornography (?), promiscuity (??) and "the twisted incentives of government welfare" (wha?) for godless single-motherhood. He declared a new axis of evil, saying "America must never be held hostage by the likes of Putin, Chavez and Ahmadinejad." Manipulative and self-aggrandizing even in defeat, he claimed he was only getting out so that he wouldn't "make it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win...Frankly, in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," said the Mitt-ster, between clenched teeth, setting up the strawman that only the blind can see.
It was the kind of smarmy speech that a loser gives when he is abandoning his party and hitching his star to his future role as party savior in four years. He knows McCain will get trounced and hopes that it will be blamed on McCain's imaginary rejection of "conservative principles" (talk about an oxymoron). He will spend the next four years posing for holy pictures at the Reagan library, sitting in with radio squawkers and cruising the conservative hook-up bars, trying to buy the love that will never be his.
Having lost the golden opportunity to trounce Romney, the most flamingly reprehensible GOP candidate we are likely to see in our lifetime (Bush wasn't a candidate; he was a prop), Hillary or Barack will now face John McCain, a genuinely humorous and likable elderly war hero -- Bob Dole without the edgy dark side. It will be more civil, but it won't be as much fun. Mitt Romney comes out a loser on many levels, but he never really got the historical thumping he deserved.