Today is the Florida Republican primary, when grandmothers across the state will vote on whom they like better: Mitt Romney, who looks like the hedge fund manager their granddaughter married, or Newt Gingrich, who looks like the guy who tried to finger them in the hot tub. It may be a tough day for Newton.* Fortunately, he has a comprehensive plan to expand his appeal beyond just, you know, munitions factory owners. Speaker Gingrich is for everybody, and everybody enjoys hip hop. Seriously, there is a pro-Gingrich rap song now, and that’s it—he was the last one. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link.
For a publication staffed entirely by nerds, the New York Review of Books sure is fired up about democracy. Their coverage of Occupy Wall Street is far better than that of any traditional news outlet—by comparison, the Times appears to have closed its office in New York—and their vituperation of Super PACs is only slightly less comprehensive. This weekend, Elizabeth Drew published this consideration of whether the 2012 election can possibly be fair. “Will the presidential election reflect the will of the people?” she asks, presumably rhetorically. She follows with a more important question: “Will it be seen as doing so—and if not, what happens?”
During a flashback in the episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Grandpa enjoy brief success selling a homemade aphrodisiac, child Homer says he hopes to someday be President. “Son,” his father says, “this is the greatest country in the world. They’ve got a whole system to prevent people like you from becoming President.” We are now in the first presidential election year since Citizens United v. FEC, and the richest man ever to run for that office has been goaded into releasing his tax returns. In 2010, Mitt Romney received an adjusted gross income of $26 million—approximately 500 times what I made. He paid a federal income tax rate of 13.9%, around four points lower than what I paid. In Romney’s defense, almost all of his income came from investments and his inheritance, whereas my income came from wage work, which is taxed at a higher rate. In my defense, fuck Mitt Romney and the federal corporatocracy he hopes to captain.
It was a classic story of the cruelty implicit in the American dream: Rick Perry, born son of struggling ranchers and once a serious contender for President, is now reduced to being the millionaire governor of Texas. His meteoric rise A) lasted about a week and B) only made his fall more vertiginous—and all for the simple crime of never knowing what he was doing. Perry has formally withdrawn his candidacy for the Republican nomination and, in one last act of electoral incompetence, instructed his followers to support Newt Gingrich. That’s like your dog running away and, as he goes, suggesting that you play fetch with the microwave. In a completely unrelated story, it turns out that Rick Santorum actually won Iowa.
The Gingrich campaign is giddy like it’s new staffer day on the news that Sheldon Adelson has given them five million dollars. Of course, Adelson didn’t give it directly to Gingrich; that would violate federal campaign finance laws one thousand times in a row. The billionaire casino magnate and Chinese bribery defendant gave $5 million to the Winning Our Future Super PAC, which is of course not controlled by the Gingrich campaign in compliance with US law. As of yesterday, Winning Our Future had bought $3.4 million worth of advertising time in South Carolina. Presumably, the ads will urge each voter to read about the candidates and make a list of which leadership qualities he or she considers most important. Or they’ll call Mitt Romney a pussy.