By Will Durst
The mad mud-tossing between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the last two Republicans still standing, is quickly ramping up to levels not seen since the Agincourt catapults. The candidates and their surrogates are busy dredging up dirt with fleets of front-loaders, personally wetting it down with outraged spittle and other anatomical fluids, and it’s getting ugly out there folks. Not to mention… moist.
The gloves are coming off and this battle of ironclads, unlike the Monitor and the Merrimack, is guaranteed to result in more self-inflicted harm than damage to the enemy. Sure, sure, other wannabees continue to circle the spotlight, but haphazardly, like September moths after repeated run-ins with a tricked-out bug zapper. Barring a second bout of primary puppy love, the race for the GOP presidential nomination is down to Weasel Boy and Plastic Man.
As usual, it all started with money. Mitt Romney stepped in doo-doo deeper than Nietzsche’s private letters to Wittgenstein when he bet Rick Perry $10,000 in a recent debate, demonstrating the same kind of connection to the middle class that a ceramic Portuguese tie-clip in the shape of a crouching gargoyle has to squid fishing. Ten grand. Apparently, to the GOP, that’s pocket change, except of course in D.C., where it’s universally recognized as two and-a-half hookers.
Newt seized on the former Massachusetts Governor’s faux pas tighter than an extra-small t-shirt on a Sumo wrestler, acting uncharacteristically all humble-like, which seemed so scarily disingenuous he couldn’t help himself and actually blushed while laughing.
A bit of unexpected blowback almost knocked the former Speaker down when Mitt Man retaliated by referencing the third Mrs. Gingrich’s half-a-million dollar tab at Tiffany’s. Which, even amongst the fabled 1-percenters, is considered to be a heck of a lot of useless sparkly crap. Makes Elizabeth Taylor’s jewel box look like a Tupperware dish in a cabinet above the sink.
The GOP is rightfully worried about the spectacle of two very wealthy men accusing each other of being filthy rich. While trading accusations of flip-flopping even though both have changed positions more often than hyperkinetic six-year-olds playing speed Twister halfway through their Halloween stash.
And there have been further charges. And further counter charges. And charges of countering the counting charges by charging counters. And back and forth it goes. “He’s zany.” “Not a real conservative.” “As trustworthy as a leaky dinghy in high seas.” “Waffles so much, syrup should be shooting out of his ears.” The byproduct being Iowa and New Hampshire television stations are raking it in while independent voters are alienated by the container ship-full.
Party regulars are starting to freak out, with the dim throbbing realization sinking in that one of these guys is destined to be their standard bearer. Dark whispers are muttered behind closed doors about Newt’s viability and Mitt’s likeability, which can both be measured in the low single digits. Baseball scores, not even football, much less basketball numbers.
Not just the presidency, we’re also beginning to hear phrases like “coat tails” and “down ballot” and other strategic buzz-words that are shorthand for “Aieieee!” Newt Romney or Mitt Gingrich. Like choosing between getting your finger caught in a car door or an elephant stepping on your foot. In this case: a couple of wild elephants. The same, only different. And not in a good way.