Like wildfire, news of Newt ‘The Philandering Professor’ Gingrich’s victory in the South Carolina primary has spread through the arid grasslands of the American political landscape, bringing relief to those of us who are still grumpily and bitterly kvetching about being denied Sarah Palin’s candidacy in this election year (Mixed metaphors are called for when it comes to this election; all is befuddled.) I had declined to cancel our home cable subscription in the hope that the Patron Saint of Hockey Mothers–or was it Pitbulls?–would deign to leave her Russia-observation post and descend beneath the Arctic Circle to entertain us with her bon mots on energy policy, financial reform, and educating the next generation. Alas, there was–and is–no sign of her gracious acceptance of the many beseechments her followers have sent her way to drop whatever she is doing–perhaps skinning a grizzly pelt or two–and jump into the electoral fray. But now there is hope for those of us who, rather grimly, had been anticipating an election season that would be dominated by the dreary, coiffed, and relentlessly chameleon-like Mitt Romney, who had pulled off the rather amazing trick of presenting us with a candidate that is equal parts management-consultancy-mumbo-jumbo-spouter and the-modern-equivalent-of-a-flat-earther.
While the comedy quotient of the Republican primary race declined rather precipitously after Herman ‘The Original Niner‘ Cain dropped out, it has now been significantly elevated by Gingrich’s Revival, and by Santorum’s Surge. (I used the word ‘revival’ advisedly: apparently, 44% of born-again or evangelical Christians in South Carolina voted for Newt.) As Gingrich showed in the South Carolina debate–and indeed, through his political career–no one does hysterical hypocrisy better than him; the boosting of his electoral fortunes prolongs his presence in the race, and watching him go up against Rick ‘Dan Savage Loves Me, He Really Does‘ Santorum, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney can only be awaited with the sort of delicious anticipation that was formerly reserved for the Seinfeld Finale.
So my glee at this primary result is not just because Gingrich survives and endures. Rather, it is supplemented by the awareness of the identity of his opponents in the Republican primaries. A primary season that has already delivered trainloads of fodder to the Stewart-Colbert combine deserves to run long; premature termination would be cruel and unusual punishment for all of us. Legislative logjams have been our staple diet for too long; we want, and deserve political comedy now. Yes, much hilarity is promised when the eventual Republican candidate goes up against Obama; but really, why should we be made to wait that long?
So, please, if the slightest part of you feels any compassion for the American political spectator–not participant, for our exclusion from the political process is well-nigh complete–then join me in applauding Gingrich’s persistence in the Republican primaries. To (mis)quote the Great Russian Political Theorist Aleksandr I. Lebed, if we are to be screwed in this particular prison cell, they might as well change the channel to the Comedy Network.
(I am well aware that the joke will be on me were Gingrich to be elected President this November. But being the butt-end of a joke comes easily to one confronted by a cartel of political monopolies.)