Reality Check: The Frontrunner Shuffle James Campion February 27, 2012 Columns Since I am the only reporter willing to go on record as to the extent of the Republican National Committee Chairman’s increasingly alarming drinking problem, it is also incumbent on this space to place it in context with the queer developments surrounding its fallout. By all accounts and clearly evident in the dramatic closing of Republican establishment ranks prior to an unsuspecting and purportedly damaging Rick Santorum surge in popularity, the spastically bizarre public behavior of Reince Priebus, while understandable, has sent shockwaves through the halls of the GOP powerbase mere days before the Michigan and Arizona primaries. After an alleged 72 hours of no sleep and a regrettable slip in press judgment, Priebus spent the first week of February tossing out urbane similarities between a sitting U.S. president and a foreigner accused of negligent homicide. This prompted angry stewards of billionaire Republican donors, David H. and Charles G. Koch to summarily pull the chairman from the public spotlight. Several backroom meetings for which the buzz from moles included “mild face slapping to repeated beatings over the head with a rolled up Wall Street Journal” led to a Priebus media blackout. A spokesman for the RNC claimed that the days leading up to what aids are now describing as “the post-Triple-Sweep” binge wherein Priebus, caught shouting at a frightened cabbie in front of Denver’s swank Hotel Teatro, disappeared without a trace. Reports of the RNC’s befuddled reaction to the abject whipping of party frontrunner Mitt Romney by a suddenly resurgent Santorum sent Priebus’ already fragile state and penchant for Scotch-shooters to deplorable levels. Assistants were left to scramble to bus in confused vagrants and angry students promised Xbox 360 systems to fill out the student center at the University Of Colorado for what was to be a victory speech turned funereal groan. By the time Romney was done speaking the crowd had turned ugly, but word spread that Priebus was already halfway to Grand Junction, where he was to pick up the latest windfall of Salt Lake City Super Pac money that never arrived. Priebus then disappeared until his unhinged television appearances and the subsequent Koch Brothers beatings. Problem was that no one noticed. There has been a great deal of doom-speak coming from the war room lackeys now that a crazed fox is in the 2012 hen house. Many who believed Romney’s steady politico static-free waxen anti-Obama figure would cast a mighty shadow over what the Grand Old Party was sure this past summer was the weakest incumbent since Jimmy Carter. Rick Santorum was considered at best as a strange counter-point to whatever wild nonsense Newt Gingrich was spouting to split enough votes to keep a moderate billboard candidate from unraveling. Two weeks of a religious loon going off half-cocked about sex, drugs and Satan was not on the agenda. Long before the Santorum nightmare, worries began to fester throughout the party when Romney stumbled off script and told a CNN morning show that he didn’t care about the poor and chuckled lightly when asked why he thought his extra 300 grand in speaking-engagement income for 2011 was small change, but once his tax records were brought to light and the Republican machine began accusing the White House of playing “class-warfare,” all appeared well. Best of all, Gingrich spit the bit in two uneven debate performances and in an obvious panic started talking seriously about building lunar colonies and calling it a 51st state. Consequently, Romney stomped in Florida, a key swing state Barack Obama carried in 2008. Combined with a subsequent Nevada caucus win, the word cocky was used in several interviews with insiders this space conducted after Florida. The Romney camp, backed by RNC strategy, ignored the sanctioned Missouri Primary, which was stripped of its delegates due to scheduling problems with the party. But while Romney spent his time trying to sew up Colorado, a caucus he would lose to Santorum along with one in Minnesota, the former Pennsylvania senator spent weeks pulling together his Iowa plan of door knocking/flesh pressing retail politics in Missouri to complete the 2/7 sweep. Banned from media appearances, rumors abounded that the party dispatched Priebus to Maine to stop the bleeding, and with heavy party participation, which reports out of Bangor are now citing as “insider party fraud,” Romney squeaked by Ron Paul. Stunned, the Paul campaign, having done its own Santorum-like sweep of the state for months, challenged the results, and once the local and the national press began sniffing out the tallies, it was obvious that many counties—key Paul strongholds—were either not counted or erroneously called for Romney. Details of the shenanigans pulled by Republican officials in Maine are sketchy and the delegates are being withheld pending investigations or a complete re-vote, but what has happened in the past three weeks to the Romney campaign does not exactly defy explanation. For one, Romney’s only claim on his candidacy is a de facto John Kerry argument that he is the most electable and not the guy currently in charge. And secondly, he is the self-proclaimed economic wizard and therefore holds the best fulcrum against a damaged economy. But as weeks wore on past Christmas the stock market made its three-year Obama administration climb up to 13,000 for the first time since the spring of ’08 and was soon followed by a slow dip in unemployment and a gradual pace of domestic growth, consumer confidence, and a Super Bowl ad by a Hollywood tough-guy icon lauding the resurrection of the once tanked U.S. car industry. Suddenly, the Mister Fix-It routine was ringing a tad hollow. Meanwhile, with a renewed advantage in an upward economic swing and its opponents for the moment stalled, the White House found itself embroiled in a ridiculous Religious Liberty vs. Public Health issue that was nothing of the sort. This ready-made controversy emboldened the social issue/culture warrior base of a party that had been yanked back into a fiscal responsibility platform by the TEA Party surge of 2010. The grateful recipient of this severe shift in public debate from money to contraception is Rick Santorum, who took the football and literally threw Hail Marys all over the joint; pulling out the Jerry Falwell playbook on family, God and apple pie until it hurt. Santorum hit every cultural low note from Detroit to Tempe and actually took minor leads in Michigan and Arizona, as well as overtaking Romney in the national polls. His Johnny Lunch-Pail gate mixed with a sweater-vest kind of sweet uncle charm made Santorum the perfect anti-robotic Romney. According to Republican strategists, Santorum’s only weakness as a national candidate is that he is out of his fucking mind, much of which was on full display in a plethora of stump speeches given since his Triple-Sweep performance. A careful reading of his 2008 religious/culture warrior screed, It Takes A Family; Conservatism And The Common Good that made the rounds of media derision didn’t help. This daily dose of voodoo goofiness forced blow-back from the highest rafters of party donors, many of whom leaned so hard on Santorum it reduced his recent polished debate performances into a glassy-eyed Al Gore-esque charade in a CNN debate days before the primaries. This roused a Romney poll comeback. At one point in the televised massacre, Romney had Santorum apologizing for voting for derided crap the last two-term Republican president pitched as viable policy. One week until Super Tuesday and Reince Priebus is still at large. How long until he finds Jesus? James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.