Rolling Stone - Matt Taibbi

Back in the early 1970s, after I graduated from high school, I subscribed to Rolling Stone Magazine and read it religiously as soon as it arrived to my door.  Those were the days of The Doobie Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper and Rare Earth.  I never much read the political commentary of Hunter S. Thompson (the famed writer of “Fear and Loathing” campaign trail chronicles in the days of President Nixon) and others, but I knew all about all the music of the times.  As soon as that music began to disappear and Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Prince appeared, I ended my subscription.  Rolling Stone has remained a voice for the “bohemian” youth of America.  Without remorse, they left me behind.

My politics, as I reel in the years and stow away the time, rarely jive anymore with those of editor Jann Wenner and his ever-young Rolling Stone Magazine.  Here’s one instance, however, where I agree with their campaign-trail writer, Matt Taibbi (apparantly the heir to the now-deceased “Gonzo” Hunter S. Thompson’s crown), at least on some points.  I especially “like” his points regarding Ron Paul’s growing appeal to youth, FOX News fueling the senseless voting that’s been taking place among the GOP, the pre-schoolish fighting going on between Romney, Gingrich and Santorum and the general idiocy that Romney and Gingrich have been showing before the press cameras.

For more of my current blogs on Ron Paul and Election 2012, please click on “Dr. Ron Paul” under the column “Categories” to your right.

Here are some excerpts from the full article which can be found at the below link:  –SB


The Odd Couple:  Romney Vs. Gingrich

How the GOP race became a showdown between a walking OCD diagnosis and a flatulent serial adulterer

By Matt Taibbi

January 30, 2012 11:00 AM ET

. . . First he [Romney] made the mistake, in explaining his income as a private-equity vampire, of insisting that the money he receives each year in speaking fees is “not very much.”  Romney’s idea of “not very much” turns out to be $374,327.62 – a microscopic portion of his total earnings, but still a number that all by itself put him in the one percent.  Then, in the crucial debate in Charleston on January 19th, he seemed to go into a mental tailspin.  With both the debate and the primary slipping away from him, Romney reached into his bag of clichés for an “I’m not from Washington, I’m an outsider like you” speech.  Only he ballsed it up:  “If we want people who spent their life and their career, most of their career in Washington,” he said, indicating his opponents, “we have three people on the stage who’ve…”

But as Romney looked to his left, he spotted long-practicing doctor Ron Paul.  “Well, I take that back,” he fumbled.  “We got a doctor down here who spent most of his time in the, in the surgical suite.”

The surgical suite?  But wait, Paul was an obstetrician!  “Well, not surgery,” Romney corrected himself.  “The birthing suite.”

Then, as he looked pleadingly at CNN moderator John King, it was Dan Rather time.  Dead f****** air.  Romney’s candidacy was literally dying in front of his eyes.  He realized that he had forgotten King’s original question, which was about why he had called Gingrich an “unreliable leader.”

“Now, you asked me an entirely different question,” he said to King.  “What’s…”

The crowd laughed as Romney looked around to the other candidates for help.  Gingrich, who despite an utter lack of self-control is a cunning old crook with a keen instinct for combat, moved quickly to drive the knife in.  “Beats me.  I don’t know,” he said.  “Where are we at, John?”  The crowd roared.

Romney was never the same after that moment.  The next day, in that very building, I watched as the level of panic in his campaign finally boiled over into violence.  Throughout the race, Romney has been targeted by protesters from Occupy Wall Street, who have made it their mission to screw up his rope-line photo ops. In New Hampshire just a week before, Romney had tried to do the campaign-cliché thing and kiss a baby – only to have protesters shout at him, repeatedly, “Are you going to fire the baby?  Are you going to fire the baby?  Are you going to fire the baby?”

Romney typically has not responded to these provocations.  But on the day of the Charleston debate, in a small nearby suburb, a protester asked Romney, “What will you do to support the 99 percent, seeing as how you’re part of the one percent?”

At that perfectly reasonable question, Romney lost his cool and spun around awkwardly, arms in and head forward, like a bobbing harbor buoy, to face the protester.  “Let me tell you something,” he fumed.  “America is a great nation because we’re a united nation.  And those who try to divide the nation, as you are trying to do here and as our president is doing, are hurting this country seriously.”

. . .

I was maybe 10 feet away from him when a pair of Occupy protester-tormenters tried to ask him something.  Suddenly, the space around the candidate erupted in commotion.  A female police officer roared past me, dragging a young female protester named Adrianna Varedi by the neck.  It was such an outstanding chokehold that Varedi’s face had already turned purple.  The cops rushed her to the exit and, in a moment reminiscent of the scene in Casino in which a gambler’s head is used to bash open the exit door, Varedi and another protester were roughly tossed outside.

“I was just trying to ask him a question,” Varedi said afterward.

. . .

As late as five days before the South Carolina primary, Gingrich was still trailing Romney by double digits in the state.  His comeback began at the debate in Myrtle Beach, when he had an instantly viral exchange with African-American Fox commentator Juan Williams in which he triumphantly defended the idea that 11-year-olds should get jobs and that black people prefer food stamps to honest employment.  The crowd was howling for blood, literally booing Mexico when Williams mentioned that Romney’s father had been born there and then, in a moment that one had to see to believe, loudly booing the Golden Rule when Ron Paul sensibly suggested that we “don’t do to other nations what we don’t want to have them do to us.” *

[* Note as clarification that if drug cartels and Hezbollah seek to import drugs, terrorism and death to America, then by the Golden Rule we would not want to return the favor and import those evils to Mexico.  On the other hand, if elements within Mexico represent a growing threat to America, then we can (constitutionally) and should counter the threat.  This would be doing to them what any sane person would expect them to do to us if we were importing death into Mexico.  Paul has stated clearly elsewhere that he would deal effectively with the drug cartel/Hezbollah threat to our southern borders and states.  –SB]

. . .

By a curious accident, both Romney and Gingrich had scheduled 10:45 a.m. campaign stops on primary day at a roadside restaurant called Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville.  The mix-up led to much speculation about a “Ham House showdown,” and by 10 that morning the place was teeming with placard-waving supporters from both campaigns, in addition to what appeared to be all 10 million members of America’s political media.  But the “showdown” never happened, thanks to a classically reptilian cop-out by Romney:  Despite his campaign’s insistence that it intended to stick to its schedule, Romney showed up 45 minutes early, darted through the restaurant shaking hands Speedy Gonzales-style, and was back in his campaign bus 20 minutes before Gingrich even arrived.

When Newt finally showed up, his supporters greeted him like a Roman emperor back from a slaughter of the Gauls.  As he strode into the Ham House, his supporters mocked Romney by erupting in clucking chicken noises.  Newt, I’m quite sure, was never happier than he was at that moment in the driving rain and slop of Greenville on primary day.  Looking like a king peacock or the mockumentary version of Joaquin Phoenix, gorgeously obese and enthralled with the wonder of himself, Newt plunged through the Ham House crowd, stood on a beer cooler and crowed, “I have a question.  Where’s Mitt?”

“He left!” someone in the crowd shouted. “He ran!

. . .

Across town, meanwhile, half of South Carolina appeared to be packed into a Hilton ballroom that began to stink noticeably of sweat and booze long before Newt showed up.  Bodies were stacked together like sardines, and the crowd slobbered over visiting dignitaries like Mrs. South Carolina, a busty blond hottie who seemed to symbolize the earnest possibilities of open marriage.  “It’s like free admission to Wrestlemania,” chirped one attendee.

When Newt finally arrived, he plunged into a booming victory speech that used the same tired, redbaiting clichés trotted out by every candidate in the race.  (Some, in fact, were the same clichés Romney used, the only difference being that Romney described Obama as taking his inspiration from Europe, while Gingrich also pointed the finger at San Francisco.)

Most ludicrously, Gingrich – virtually his whole adult life a confirmed Beltway parasite, as voracious a consumer of lobbyist money as has ever been seen in modern America, a man who in the past decade took more than 1.5 million consulting dollars from Freddie Mac alone – asserted that his victory was a triumph against the Washington insider.  “So many people,” he said, “feel that the elites in Washington and New York have no understanding, no care, no concern, no reliability, and in fact do not represent them at all.”

The crowd roared, and Gingrich, in a thrilling demonstration of sheer balls, moved on to insist that he’d won the race not just because he was a peerlessly brilliant television presence, but because – get this – he represented good values.  “It’s not that I’m a good debater,” he said, “it’s that I articulate the deepest-felt values of the American people.”

. . .

Former senator Rick Santorum earned a place in American pop culture as the nation’s leading pious, finger-wagging bore, the Anita Bryant of his time . . . Santorum at times has come across as the sanest, most human of the candidates . . . Genuinely religious, with a genuinely working-class background, Santorum nonetheless was beaten senseless in the South Carolina polls, receiving fewer than half as many votes from evangelicals as the philandering Gingrich. *

[* Note that since this article was written, the evangelicals must have changed their tune.  Santorum won the votes this week in Missouri, Minnesota, and (most stunningly to all) in Colorado.  At the precinct caucus that I attended last Tuesday, Santorum received 17 votes, Romney 9, Gingrich 9 and Ron Paul 7.  It was obvious later that night that a shift had occurred and some serious stacking of primaries was accomplished in Santorum’s favor.  –SB]

. . .

Then there was Ron Paul, whose unaccountable predicament was on display in the Ham House madness.  As Newt stood in the packed restaurant, gloating over Romney’s cowardice, a small contingent of Paul supporters crouched in the rain at a Hardee’s parking lot across the street, seething over the latest slight to their candidate’s dignity.  “The machine would rather have Huey or Dewey or Louie or whatever,” sighed Ted Christian, watching the media blitz at the Ham House.

. . .

Both actually and metaphorically, the Paul campaign is forever being consigned to the parking lot outside the main event, despite the fact that Paul is the only Republican candidate with consistent, insoluble support across the country.  Polls also show that Paul tends to fare much better against Obama than any candidate besides Romney:  A recent CNN poll showed him in a dead heat with Obama in a one-on-one contest.  Yet everywhere he goes, Paul is hounded by reporters asking him which of the other mannequins he’s eventually going to throw his support to.  The grown-ups in the party establishment and their lackeys in the press simply refuse to take Paul seriously, which is part of the reason Paul is so extraordinarily attractive to young people (in both Iowa and New Hampshire, he scored almost half of the under-30 vote).

But the Republican Party is not dominated by 22-year-old college students reading The Fountainhead for the first time and finally understanding what it is they’ve always hated about their ex-hippie parents.  No, the party is dominated by middle-aged white suburbanites who hate Mexico, John King and the Golden Rule and are willing to flock to anyone who’ll serve up the Fox News culture war in big portions and without shame or hesitation.

This story is from the February 16, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

(tnks tw)