“What the hell is wrong with this guy?” National Review editor Jonah Goldberg wailed at one of Mitt Romney’s spectacular gaffes, about 10 gaffes ago — hard to recall whether it was Mitt saying how he liked to fire people, or that some of his best friends owned NASCAR teams. There have been so many.

Last week, there was a fresh round of wailing from the Right, when Romney almost single-handedly managed to damage US-UK relations with some misplaced honesty about the British Olympic preparedness — and then managed to spectacularly mishandle the fact that his wife, Ann, had a horse in the dressage, the event with a gold medal in lame. Would he be watching it, he was asked? “No, that’s Ann’s thing — I’m not even sure when it’s on.”

Good, manly response to the suggestion that you were being led to a sissy horse jazz ballet happening with your cojones in your wife’s Prada snaplock? Yes, save for the fact that it was already in your personal diary, and had been announced to the press by your assistant. In the US, Charles Krauthammer, the deliciously named Republican opinionista, wailed afresh (at the London gaffe) “it’s appalling, it’s incomprehensible … I’m out of adjectives”.

Romney’s debacle in London was hummed and haahed over as no big deal by Republicans more stupid than Krauthammer, but the trouble was that it set the tone for his next visit. Here there were no gaffes, although some Democrats tried to spin them as such. Instead there was a series of vicious, calculated insults designed to identify the Republicans so wholly with right-wing Zionism as to negate the Palestinians as a people — a step backwards from even George W. Bush’s willingness to acknowledge that the Palestinians should have a state.

By now, the right-wing press were complaining that the monolithic liberal media, etc, were representing everything Romney did as a gaffe – and so they were, but not out of malice. The effect was not their doing but Romney’s. He had staged so many gaffes, that even his deliberate and focused actions look funny. He had crossed the line into total comedy.

Total comedy is the rare effect achieved by the very masters of the genre — Buster Keaton, Tony Hancock, Benny Hill, a few more. It’s that point at which everything the comedian does, the plainest of action and dialogue, becomes funny. Watch Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock — ever turn, every word is funny in a way that other comedians couldn’t hit. Baldwin — Jack Donaghy — was fond of “Reaganing”, and Romney is Baldwining.

He could personally disarm a suicide bomber, and there would be giggles. When he does get it straight, his aides throw the loop — in Poland, after Romney attended the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, repeated questions about his remarks in Israel were greeted with a bark from his aide: “Kiss my ass. Show a little respect.” What is wrong with that sentence? Yes, correct — he has not managed to work a racial insult in.

Romney’s world tour won’t be much affected by this circus — unlike the Obama world tour in ’08, most of his likely voters hate overseas, and enjoy seeing it insulted. The tour is a fund-raiser, designed to reassure hyper-American supremacist and Zionist big donors that he remained in their corner, and also an attempt to prise off a few of the Democrats rusted-on 80% Jewish vote. Israel’s defence, after all, is about a small strip of hallowed land — it’s called Miami Beach, and winning one retirement resort over to the GOP could swing the state, and the election.

Yet, it may remain a vain hope. Through 20 years of increasingly hysterical Zionist politics in Israel and the US, the Democrat share has shifted barely at all — even when a schwartzer took the nomination, and prickled some old inner-city rivalries and conflicts.

Yet in a wider sense, that is the most amazing thing about this election overall — for all the billions being thrown at it, over the course of a year, the vote has barely shifted — Obama still beats the Republican contender by around 2-3%. The only thing scarier about the election than Ronney’s stunning ineptitude, is the fact that it seems to make no difference — and if he came out tomorrow and said he had been Ann’s horse in a Days Inn off the I-95 for the past eight years, he would still be winning Indiana and losing Ohio. Strange, unstrange days.

But this will change? Won’t it?

Peter Fray

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