Summer in the GOP Asylum: "Who are these guys?"

By Robert Becker

Will the unintended Republican comic opera play on? Enough surging tomfoolery, plus an anemic ticket, and President Obama may survive. Ah, the clandestine metric Romney dreams will carry him into the White House: entertainment verging on farce. Forget changing the status quo or new jobs or better times: that challenge needs going through the motions of proposing programs. Instead, why not amuse and divert: “Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh . . . They’ll be standing in lines/ For those old honky-tonk monkeyshines”?

Admittedly, not all Republican hilarity is calculated, though it is predictable when they keep pushing buffoons forward to present policy babble. And I love the pre-convention chatter, spending millions to make the Etch-a-Sketch Changeling warmer, even a tad lovable. Fat chance. While Romney-Ryan curiosities come fast and furious, they aren’t the only damaging blows to the New Extremism Party. There’s Todd Akin, a crazed Lubbock county judge, and an oldie but goodie mortification from last summer reported this week. What! Sacrilege at a holy land-holy site by holier-than-thou House members, per this juicy Politico headline:

Exclusive: FBI probed GOP trip with drinking, nudity in Israel 

Ahem, “The FBI probed a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee that involved drinking, numerous GOP freshmen lawmakers, top leadership staff — and one nude member of Congress, according to more than a dozen sources, including eyewitnesses.”

What a “party” scene, true believers frolicking at what’s coolly reported as “a Christian holy site,” where “Jesus is said in the Bible to have walked on water.” Is said? Not by heartland zealots making serious pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Then came the real Politico punch line: “Correction: The Sea of Galilee is a lake. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized it.” Wonderful: modern media precision trumps Biblical literalism.  Yes, the biased liberal press.

The GOP farce lurched again when the world realized that Paul Ryan’s entry reincarnates from her merciful grave the radical, money-worshiping, pro-choice atheist Ayn Rand. Cover those born-again kids’ ears. Beyond divisive hypocrisy and his hated budget, Ryan reveres the 20th Century most overrated novelist-philosopher; she elevated unbridled egotism, then spent her last years in dependency, trapped by her own contradictions. Rand despised faith and religion only a smidge less than government, the nemesis of all innovative giants.

And now upon us, the laughable prospect of a storm-menaced Tampa Convention (talk about empty farces) as fat cats rush for the exits (and drinks: this Convention is dry).  If wind and water hit hard, delegates welcome the arms of emergency government workers, as in government. No retribution jokes, please, though this tepid extravaganza will ooze more delusional history, fantasy science, birther jokes, nay, even the ultimate political snub — no workable, practical proposals for middle-class redemption.

Rape, secession, in one week?

But wait, as an unwanted set-up, enter the wrong party message: indefensible magic thinking from Missouri’s Todd Akin, that well-known, loose-tongued, Senate wannabe who invents birth fairy tales laughable even by early, inerrant Biblical scribes. You get past one GOP clown and the next bozo pops up, on schedule. By week’s end, a Lubbock (Texas, of course) judge, racist, and city father incited secession, predicting civil war and invasion from the north if Obama wins (with U.N. troops sent by that hated commander-in-chief?!) This comic pageant won’t end soon: expect inevitable media reportage  into more Bain shenanigans and those charming, bizarre corners of cultish Mormonism — too irresistible for a press corps bored by October.

Notably, Akin established one unexpected threshold this season: a blunder of such a catastrophic magnitude the GOP top echelon just had to put up a Stop sign. Not on policy, mind you, where the “Akin amendment” echoes platform opposition to all abortions, without Romney’s qualifications. Akin’s crime was political, not scientific, and his bizarre version of reproductive biology poses less menace than widespread, irrational defiance of hard climate-change science. Millions more will suffer from ecological system meltdown than positing conscious spermicidal agents.

Yes, Akin revealed himself a mental midget, all the worse for serving on the House’s Technology and Science committee. Yes, he insulted everyone’s intelligence but his own.  But losing a Senate-seat reversal the GOP thought in the bag — and by an unforced error — now, that’s a hanging offence. It’s hardly fair, though not Akin’s worst assault on rationality, to wit: opposing easing student loan interest rates because the entire program is “stage three cancer of socialism.” He thinks the Bible should be the “blueprint” for government, that “liberals hate God” and “Medicare is unconstitutional.” How about impeaching Obama as “a complete menace to our civilization.” Akin’s coming out was only a matter of time. Okay, Missouri, now we test your minimum intelligence.

As the noxious Karl Rove money gang shuts out Akin’s campaign, we should update H.L. Mencken’s quip, “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” This buffoon has managed that, by figuring folks were no smarter than third-grade school mates. Akin’s quarantine confirms what the rightwing establishment considers unforgivable (aside from bathroom sex or getting videotaped taking a bribe): making yourself unelectable. I say: let’s support our new rogue hero, battling the odds to avoid getting tarred and feathered. Hail, Akin, no quitter like Palin. Don’t retreat, Todd, reload, just read a bit more biology.

Is this joke or miracle?

Saving the best for last, check out the Convention laugher from the NY Times, detailing Romney’s hiring of promotional admen to achieve a miracle: make the cold-hearted Mittens into a “warm,” relaxed, likeable person. Why not a heart transplant instead? Of course, Mitt as warm and cuddly makes even loyal Republicans come to attention:

The campaign aides are determined to overcome perceptions that Mr. Romney is stiff, aloof and distant. So they have built one of the most intricate set pieces ever designed for a convention   . . . From its dark-wood finish to the brightly glowing high-resolution screens in the rafters that look like skylights, every aspect of the stage has been designed to convey warmth, approachability and openness.

“Every aspect of the stage”? Oh my, you gotta love politics to take that straight. Such transparent ploys can backfire, even serve as warnings that money can’t buy everything, that miracles may still rely on the almighty. My prediction: no significant Romney post-Convention bump after the clods leave Tampa, soaking wet we trust from storms, stupidities, and failed machinations. What a summer: a real, natural hurricane of swirling air overtopping a faux hurricane filled only with blowhard blarney.