Monday, November 14, 2011

Newt Gingrich And The Five Stages Of Political Grief

It's happening! Gingrich is surging! Reputable pollster PPP is announcing it; The New York Times' expert numbers-cruncher Nate Silver is documenting it; Slate's Dave Weigel (who is fast becoming my new favorite political writer) is reporting it; over at The Corner, they're earnestly discussing what it all means.

But I think it's clear that what we are actually witnessing is an extraordinary display of mass political grief upon the death of the GOP's chances of taking back the White House in 2012. And true to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's famous schematic, we are moving rapidly through the five stages.

First came Denial: Dead? Are you kidding me? We could beat this Obama clown with anybody! Let's shoot the moon and go with a truly off-the-rails crazy conservative -- someone like like Michele Bachmann! We may never get a chance like this again to beat a weak and unelectable incumbent with a totally wacked-out right-winger of our choosing. 

Next, right on cue, came Anger. Wait -- who says we're dead? You can take your GOP's-chances-are-dead talk and go straight to hell, mister. You wanna see how vibrant, how vital, how unquestionably alive our chances of winning are? Look who's charging up the hill on his white horse -- it's the good-looking, charismatic, thrice-elected governor of the most conservative state in the union, that's who! We're gonna properly kick Obama's ass. And Rick Perry is gonna administer the proper ass-kicking. Hah! Dead! We'll show you, doubters.

And then, after a couple of disastrous debates: Bargaining. Okay. We don't really understand what's going on here. Bachmann was a horrible idea -- we can admit that now. And Perry, well . . . maybe we were letting our righteous fury cloud our judgment just a bit. He's not quite the savior we were hoping or expecting him to be. Look: Who do you want us to pick? There aren't that many left. What? The black guy? Sure, fine, then: We'll pick the black guy. See? We're not racist! But we are adrift, and we don't know what else to do. Can Herman Cain -- who knows nothing at all about foreign policy, or elementary macroeconomic theory, or basic governing, or anything beyond his warmed-over tax plan, which was snatched like a long-forgotten frozen pizza from the back of Steve Forbes' deep-freezer -- beat Obama? We have no idea. But his numbers look better than anyone else's right now. And we just want to win. Please, God, let us win.

Which inevitably brings us, in the aftermath of the scandal-fueled Cain implosion, to Depression. Oh, Jesus. Sure. Whatever. Gingrich. God, this is fucking horrible. We can't even bring ourselves to get out of bed or shower or brush our teeth. We've completely lost our political appetite. We just sit around the house in our bathrobes and play that one song over and over, the Tears for Fears song -- except not the Tears for Fears version, the one from Donnie Darko. Nominate whoever the hell you want. We don't care. "Newt Gingrich for President." Yay. Now leave us alone.

But all is not lost! The final stage of grief -- Acceptance -- is just around the corner. May it come soon for my long-suffering GOP friends.

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