Down in Colorado, they have a problem with black bears. They’ll sometimes wander into populated areas, and they have long since ceased to be afraid of human beings. Indeed, they are wont to attack, in dark places in the city. Worse, the male bears when in rut, have been known to attack in an, erm, pretty intimate way — always men, whom they mistake for she-bears. Black bears, like many species, have pretty jagged, razorish equipment, and if one goes all the way with you, you are going to be grievously torn up in the process. Say you were a political candidate, smelling sweet, walking through a car park, on your way to a big event, on an evening in Colorado. You might in the snow of a dirty car park, be r-ped by bear with a razor-like p-nis.

So, given all that, technically, it would be possible for Mitt Romney to have a worse time in Colorado than he did last night. But it’s pretty hard to imagine. Last night, as the results started to come in, and it became clear that Rick Santorum would either get a clean sweep, or force a virtual tie in Colorado, the minds of viewers and TV pundits alike turned to one thing — not, what will he do now, but, what will he say? What can he possibly say to his troops after losing Colorado, a state central to both the nomination process, and to the November contest? Would he appear at all? Or would he just go back to the Radisson, order a club sandwich and a fifth of Jack Daniels, and sob beneath the sheets, while the low-fat vanilla pay-per-view p-rn unspooled on his plasma?

That would be the human thing to do, and no one would blame him for it. There would be a modicum of respect for a candidate who just got up and said:

“Screw it … I screwed up totally. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’ve never known why I’m doing this. I’ve never known why I’ve done anything. I am a shadow of my father, I am a shadow of myself. I am the original ‘lonely crowd’ other-directed man. Preaching individuality, I look outside myself for who I should be, and, today, I see nothing, nothing. I am happiest in Atlanta Airport on a three-hour layover, reading a back issue of Forbes and eating at Cinnabon … and at no other time am I happy. Leave me alone. The deep degree to which I do not want to be President is coming across as a desperate desire to have this, and you are misunderstanding me. I want this even less than Huntsman wanted it, and he wanted to be President of the United States less than anyone, with the possible exception of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We are Mormons, our souls were crushed at birth to save time. Leave me alone, I want to enjoy my pickle and home fries. After soothing myself, I will watch a repeat of King of Queens, in oneness with the universe. Thank you and God bless America!”

But nooooooooo! He gave some boilerplate about the campaign, and how there was a lot of work to do, and “come November, we will all get behind the candidate”. The candidate? He can’t even say that he will be the candidate. Gingrich, every time he gets up to deliver another defeat speech, tells you what he’ll be doing the first day of his Presidency. This has become more specific as time has moved on. “On the afternoon following the inauguration I will repeal Obamacare. At 4.23 I will retire to quarters and lay a cable of shipping hazard dimensions. Then I will bomb Iran and go to the celebratory balls.” To be fair, Romney’s speech was solid, held it together, kept his minuscule base fired up. But its greatest virtue was in minimising the gaffes — even then he managed to refer to the idea that he would be a candidate, because he had more money behind him than the other guys.

Gingrich had spoken first last night. He knew he was going to lose all three (indeed, wasn’t on the ballot in Missouri), and so he got it out of the way. Truth be told, being back in New York for this final engagement, I was out and didn’t even see it.

Sadly, I returned in time for Ron Paul’s excursus, another of his 20-minute lectures on sound money, delivered from deepest Minnesota, which the cable networks, desperate for filler, relayed in full. Paul had a good night, despite not winning anything — though he may win Maine, which is currently on a week-long vote to conclude Saturday — and, as he intimated, would do well in Missouri, because his crew were the only ones who had mastered the arcane arts of getting appointed as delegates to the state convention.

I’m not averse to a Ron Paul speech — it, at least, has content, an argument about how the world works, a limited appeal to the Deity, etc, etc. Indeed, I have wondered for weeks why I cannot feel any hostility to Paul, even though I have not drunk the Kool-Aid as has some of the Left. A recent profile in the NYT answered it for me — a profile that emphasised Paul’s German roots, and how his parents would sometimes use German in the house — and speak, of course, of the German hyperinflation of the ’20s, the crisis that drove them to emigrate. That’s what makes Paul’s arguments so meaty — he’s really a European, debating issues of fundamental governance, not an American blathering on about God-given rights. In one respect. In another respect, his views are totally mythological, but there’s no time to go into that now.

Anyway Gingrich had spoken, Paul had spoken, and Romney was hanging out, and it was Santorum’s turn. He had won three magnificent victories, four of the eight first contests, more than anyone. He was the natural, the leader, his personable and reasonable attitude was in contrast to all the others, and a real vote winner — and he gave not merely the worst speech of the primary, but the worst political speech I have ever seen, anywhere, any time. I mean, this wasn’t just a disappointing speech, it was a fall-apart thing. Professional pollies give bad speeches — regional managers with Asperger’s called on to deliver quarterly results at a Rapid City managers’ conference give the sort of speech Rick Santorum made. It will be somewhere on the YouTube that the kids like — check it out. It’s appalling, and if he ever became the candidate, Obama, far from the best debater, would chop him up like Philly cheesesteak sashimi. Then Romney spoke and we all switched to a sitcom.

So that’s where it stands … Romney still leads but he shifts in his posture as if he is a man who has been R-PED BY BEARS … Gingrich is holding out for Super Tuesday, and Santorum wants to be VP and then President in ’20, in bubblehead jesusfreak multiverse … or not. Who knows? Official results with 100% of precincts reporting have Santorum capturing 40.31% of the vote, followed by Mitt Romney with 34.85%, Newt Gingrich with 12.79% and Ron Paul with 11.75%. Watch for bears, if you’re moderate …


Peter Fray

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