Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Circus Update: Move Along

Today all indications are that Richie Richney will win the Illinois primary, but it changes very little.  Richney has outspent Little Ricky Sanctimonious by 7-1 in the state, and in the huge Chicago media market, by 21-1.  He's buying the state, like he hopes to buy the country.

Late news update: Richney declared winner of the popular vote in Illinois, which is apparently only partially related to the delegate count.  Next up is Louisiana, where Sanctimonious currently has a double digit lead in a poll.

Richney is still is unlikely to win enough delegates to win the nomination by the end of the primaries in June. And despite 80 degree temps in Chicago, June is several months away. So the circus will move on, with several Sanctimonious states to come.

If you're interested in little tremors however, there is a really tawdry feeling about this circus.  Once ebullient in its ridiculousness, its best clowns are gone.  All that are left are two angry clowns, and the awkward one.  And the midget clown Ron St. Paul.  Sanctimonious seems to have lost his mojo, Richney is an increasingly grim robot, who panders and lies with that creepy grin and a voice that sounds like a desperate used car salesman.

And it turns out, his lying may be his greatest advantage, at least in Illinois, and perhaps in the general election.  Not all of his specific lies, but the fact that he is a liar.  This is a theory I heard someone advance on TV Monday.  Illinois for example is split: the city and suburbs of Chicago, locating rich GOPers in the suburbs, which extend for many miles.  They are more numerous than the still substantial numbers of downstate GOPers who are more Sanctimoniously Rabid Right.  But in northern Ill, GOPers are more moderate.  And they are apt to vote for Richney not only because they are horrified by Sanctimonious, but because (this theory goes) Richney is a pandering flipflopper who mouths conservative positions but doesn't really believe them, as they contradict his previous record and statements.  And this is why they like him--or at least,they are likely to vote for him.  Because they can't believe he's as Rabid Right as he says he is.  Because, in other words, he's a liar.  And this is what moderates will believe in the general: that he isn't what he says he is.

Right now he is an increasingly desperate and primitive liar.  Lately he's out-Newting Newt by claiming that President Obama wants gas prices to be high, that he designed them to be high. But  GOPers can't help topping each other in extremism, and so now there's a Rabider claiming that President Obama actually controls gas prices.  In details, the news media does a really lousy job explaining the factors.  A little explanation of what's going on in the Sudan, where 11% of China's oil has been stopped, might alone suggest some reality.  And there's this--that U.S. gas price fluctuations directly parallel gas price fluctuations in Europe and elsewhere--pretty far outside the control of the U.S. President.

As for the actual political effect of gas prices, Binyamin Applebaum in the NY Times writes: "Gas prices influence voters indirectly, because rising prices can slow the pace of growth. But the influence is modest, because spending on oil and its derivatives makes up only a small part of the nation’s economic activity. Gas purchases account for less than 4 percent of household spending."

Meanwhile, Richney has refined his dog whistle mantra that President Obama is too dumb for the job by calling his an "economic lightweight."  "And I'm an economic heavyweight," he claims.  Though he doesn't bother saying a coherent sentence on economic matters.

Richney is very likely to end up the GOPer nominee--as Chuck Todd persuasively argues, unless GOPers suspend their own rules, the only candidates eligible are those who have won five or more state nominating contests, and that's most likely to be Richney and Sanctimonious. (On the other hand, Jeff Greenfield notes that the way these convention fights happen is by changing the rules.)

For now, every time Little Rickey seems like he's moving up, he veers off the road and has to scramble back on. Richney is pouring on money that we could all retire on.   Still, this is also likely to not be resolved for months.  So if you are enjoying this circus of the increasingly exhausted, there's going to be plenty more.  

Two more matters from this past week that bear on the show.  The first is the continuing life of the shameful story of Richney's dog--Seamus, the dog he strapped in a sealed kennel to the top of his car for 2,000 miles, hosed him down in the kennel when the dog got the runs, and left him up there. Not  surprisingly, the dog soon after ran away.  It happened some 20 years ago but it says so much about who Richney really is that even if anybody actually believes his desperate lies, it's still going to be hard to vote for him. 

The second is the bubbling up of racism from whispers to open public notice.  It's there in the Justice Department preventing states from limiting voting participation that discriminates racially, it's front and center in the just announced federal investigation into the race-based killing of a teenager in Florida, and the Florida law that helps racial killers get away with it.  And it's showing up in increasingly obvious ways in the presidential campaign.

So if you're not enjoying this circus maybe it's best to treat it like a crime scene where the police tell you to move along, nothing to see here.

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