Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Live Free or Die: More Bad Comedy

When a politician runs out of offices to hold, either by being defeated or run out of town on a grand jury rail, there is only one thing left to do. Run for president.

That’s right. It is the God-given duty of people who serve in Congress to go corporate, to lobby and/or to make speeches for fees nearly the size of a small African country.And then run for the Oval Office, so shaped because there is no place in it to hide.

I first saw it in 1976 when Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris, elected as an LBJ-style oil lackey, became a liberal populist and knew he could not win re-election. So, in the first year of public financing of campaigns, he competed in Democratic primaries out of a recreational vehicle crossing the country. Of course he ran till he fell below the 5% vote threshold in some primary or other. But he had a grand old time doing it. (I believe it was he who said he was "the candidate of the little people but they were too little to reach the levers" on the voting machines.)

If you recall, other non-starters who ran for president included unctuous Orrin Hatch, filthy little fuck Al Sharpton, and now a clown named Duncan Hunter, a Pentagon stooge masquerading as a Congressman from California.

Why do they do it? To make money, of course. Write a book about it. Raise their future lecture fees. Promote themselves for some future campaign less than the presidency (although I can’t imagine anything being less than the presidency thanks to the incumbent pretender.) Most of all, however, it is a great deal of fun and ego gratification. All but the most serious candidates eventually drop out well before the nominating conventions, not because they are humiliated by the laughter of voters or by crushing defeats. They leave when someone else’s money runs out.

Which brings us to Newt “The Brute” Gingrich. The guy who slashed and burned the Republicans into congressional control 12 years ago and then was deposed by his own troops. The guy who shut down the government rather than compromise. The guy who led the impeachment drive against Bill Clinton but who married his high school math teacher, then divorced her as she lay in a cancer ward, before dumping his second wife for a staff member about 30 years his junior.

Yes, that Newt. The one who heads one think tank, who consults for anyone with a checkbook, who writes op-eds, and who appears at press conferences, sometimes in league with willing accomplices like Hillary Clinton.

He is in New Hampshire now “testing the waters” for the 2008 Republican primary there. He should dive in – with concrete blocks around his fat ankles.

In New Hampshire – where inmates make license plates reading “Live Free or Die” – Gingrich was asked to make an appearance at a First Amendment event sponsored by the extremist Manchester Union-Leader and honoring its late owner Nacky Loeb. (Disclosure: I earned a miserable living working 18 years for a company she and her family owned before selling us workers down the river to a bunch of bozos for the exact sum of one dollar.)

What did Newt say at this newspaper event celebrating our most precious freedoms? It would be hard to believe if it weren’t so Gingrichian. But he said the United States may need to operate by “a different set of rules” when it comes to free speech in a time of war.

There are so many reasons why Gingrich won’t be nominated, much less elected, but this speech will be the primary one. He is a draft-dodging moral coward who simply loves to hear himself described as a great thinker. Suggesting at a gala celebrating the First Amendment that it isn’t worth the parchment it was written on is as frightful a notion as another attempt at comedy by John Kerry -- or Michael Richards.

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