Posted on | December 25, 2011 | 18 Comments
“Santorum is a social conservative, and everybody seems to have convinced themselves that social conservatives are a dead weight impeding the Republican Party and therefore no one should ever express support for any social conservative anywhere, under any circumstance.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, “Slouching Toward Cedar Rapids”
“How long, O Lord, how long? Where will it end?
“All I ever wanted out of this campaign was enough money to get out of the country and live for a year or two in peaceful squalor in a house with a big screen porch looking down on an empty white beach, with a good rich coral reef a few hundred yards out in the surf and no neighbors. . . .
“What worries me now . . . is the strong possibility that my involvement in politics has become so deep and twisted that I can no longer think rationally about that big screen porch above the beach except in terms of an appointment as Governor of American Samoa.”
– Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72
Among the Christmas gifts I received from Mrs. Other McCain today: New luggage, thermal underwear and a wool overcoat — appropriate and much appreciated by a guy who’s about to head out on the campaign trail to Iowa and New Hampshire.
This trip wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of readers who have contributed to the Shoe Leather Fund, and there are more tip-jar hitters to thank on my last night at home before I fly the friendly skies to Cedar Rapids: Ronald in Charlottesville, Joe in Olympia, John in West Hartford, Victor in Virginia, Lamon in Missouri, Stephen in Alabama, Philip in Englewood, Dewayne in Evansville, Mike in New Hampshire, Barry in Florissant, William in Dallas, and Scott in Ontario.
Before I pack up the laptop and hit the Hawkeye State, however, there are a couple of things that probably need explaining, which might have been mysteriously puzzling even to longtime readers.
First of all: Why Rick Santorum? I’m sure there were some who expected that, once the Cain Train derailed, I’d jump aboard the bandwagon of one or the other “serious contenders.” Instead, I switched to the lowest underdog in the race, the one candidate that all the super-genius Smart Guy pundits had written off as utterly hopeless, Rick Santorum.
Grant that this may seem like a mismatch: Herman Cain had been running a flat-out Tea Party populist campaign, a candidate who boasted of his lack of previous political experience as an asset, appealing to the small-government economic liberty message that been the rallying cry of the grassroots Right for the past two years. By comparison, Rick Santorum is a blast from the past — the social conservative foreign-policy hawk whose extensive record represents the strengths of the GOP during the years when the War on Terrorism and “values voters” were the major issues of the conservative movement.
Some people who loved Herman hate Santorum — and vice-versa — but to me, it’s not about ideology, it’s about my longrunning campaign of vengeance against the GOP Establishment, who keep using bogus arguments about “electability” to promote worthless losers like Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2008. The only way to beat those Establishment bastards is to get behind some long-shot candidate they’ve pre-emptively decided can’t win, and then fanning the sparks of enthusiasm in hopes of kindling a raging brushfire. That way, if the hopeless underdog scores a shocking upset, he will know that he owes his success to the grassroots, and not to all the Establishment big shots who said he never had a chance.
Allen West, Doug Hoffman, Marco Rubio, Christine O’Donnell, Ann Marie Buerkle, Sean Bielat — I started covering all of them when they were obscure long shots, the kind of candidates that none of the big shots would give the time of day. And there are many more names of candidates, both winners and losers, whose campaign I’ve also reported about when nobody else seemed interested. Some of them went on to triumphant glory and some fell short of victory, but in my mind the cause was always the same: How to beat the odds, thereby embarrassing the decadent and clueless Republican Establishment.
Maybe you don’t hate those Establishment swine the way I hate them, or maybe you don’t figure that pure vengeance justifies supporting a candidate who isn’t an exact match for your ideology, and that’s OK. I see myself as the last guy on the end of the rope in a political Tug-of-War, and I understand why most people don’t play the game that way. It’s a free country, and if you want to go jumping on some front-runner’s bandwagon — where the top-dollar GOP consultants and strategists are collecting fat paychecks to convince you of the canidate’s “electability” — I can’t stop you.
Also, none of the front-runners ever promised me the coveted ambassadorship to Vanuatu, which is the second thing I have to explain.
Apparently, Rick Santorum hasn’t read much Hunter S. Thompson, and so he doesn’t understand that Thompson’s career ambitions included a white sand beach beneath the palm trees and the tropical sun — an ambition thwarted by the malice and/or incompetence of Democratic National Committee chairman Larry O’Brien.
Thompson was always a man of the Left, and so his plan of vengeance involved the destruction of such Democrat establishment types as Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie. Yet none of the Democrats who eventually benefitted from Thompson’s work — neither Jimmy Carter nor Bill Clinton — ever rewarded him with the diplomatic sinecure that had once been his life’s goal. This is one reason why there’s never any point voting for Democrats: They screw up the country and won’t do a damned thing to help the people who got them elected.
Maybe Republicans are different, because I’ve got the audio of the interview where Rick Santorum promised me that embassy gig in Vanuatu and, when he emerges from the Iowa caucuses as the Cinderella story of the 2012 presidential campaign, there will be hell to pay if he tries to double-cross me.
But . . . why Vanuatu?
Maybe you weren’t paying attention that morning in October when, in one of my occasional black moods of despair, I lamented an unexpectedly long absence of the Instalanche. I’d been doing some great blogging and sending my links to Professor Glenn Reynolds and getting no linky-love in return, resulting in a 17% decline of traffic from August to September.
That’s when I realized I had succumbed to a cargo-cult mentality: Like the ignorant savages of the South Pacific, I was engaging in ritualistic behavior in the superstitious belief that this might bring the return of a lost benefit whose source was beyond my primitive understanding.
“Like Islanders Mystified by Lack of Cargo, Blogger Weeps at Altar of the ‘Lanche God” was the name of the post and, while researching the background — because I am renowned for my meticulous research — I discovered that one of the most famous cargo cults involved the shrine to “John Frum” in the island republic of Vanuatu.
This seemingly insignificant fact was filed away among the other useless trivia that overcrowd my mind until, a few days later, polls showed that my favorite underdog candidate was suddenly leading all the national polls. And shouldn’t my long months of covering the Herman Cain campaign — back in the days when he was “Herman Who?” — count for something in the grand scheme of things?
By then, the ‘Lanche god had rewarded my cultic devotions, but I found that Cain’s newfound “contender” status meant that I wasn’t getting the kind of access I’d gotten when the candidate was down in the single-digit poll numbers. Was I being backstabbed by Cain’s staff? Had Herman forgotten his old friend Stacy? And that’s when it occurred to me that perhaps maybe my career was suffering the same fate as Hunter S. Thompson, who had trusted Larry O’Brien and lived to regret it.
“Memo From the National Affairs Desk to the Herman Cain Presidential Campaign” was the result of that brainstorm, in which I explained that the island nation of Vanuatu was “the crucial linch-pin of the South Pacific” and — meticulous research pays off — the United States didn’t even have an embassy in Vanuatu.
Yet another failure of Obama’s foreign policy, you see.
Thus, I became an expert on Vanuatu, spending hours researching every fact about the archipelago formerly known as the New Hebrides. There is no one in the conservative movement or the Republican Party who can match my expertise on Vanuatu, and I was sure that, once Herman Cain became president, I would be called on to represent our nation’s interests in that long-neglected tropical paradise.
Alas, Mr. Cain quit the campaign, but not before an ominous event made me realize there might be more than one way to get to Vanuatu.
It was Thursday, Dec. 1 — two days before Cain announced he would quit — and I was sitting here in my home office, profoundly discouraged by the damage that these unfounded sexual-harassment accusations had done to my prospects of a diplomatic career. Bummed out by hearing Fox News anchors and analysts promoting the Newt Gingrich boomlet, I’d switched my office TV to MSNBC.
Andrea Mitchell was interviewing Rick Santorum, so I grabbed my notebook and jotted down a few quotes from the interview. I’d covered Senator Santorum’s campaign during my August trip to Iowa, and he’d been very cordial to me in subsequent meetings at other campaign events. So if my original underdog couldn’t recover from the scandals, I figured maybe I could cover another long shot. So I was prepared to write up Santorum’s MSNBC interview, but first I checked Twitter and saw an unexpected bit of news.
An earthquake had struck Vanuatu at the very moment Santorum was being interview by Andrea Mitchell, telling her,“We’re the campaign that’s on the move. We’re the campaign that’s rising.”
Surely, this was no mere coincidence, but rather an omen.
“BULLETIN: Earthquake Hits Vanuatu as Santorum Vows on National TV: ‘We’re Going to Surprise a Lot of People’ in Iowa” was the resulting post, which mystified my friend Lisa Graas, a Santorum supporter who hadn’t paid much attention to my Cain coverage. And I don’t think very many people connected the dots when — within hours of that prophetic earthquake — Santorum was endorsed by Pastor Cary Gordon and praised on Fox News by Sarah Palin.
Say what you will, my friends, but you’re blind if you don’t see this weird sequence of events as evidence of cosmic meaning. While I’m not sure what it may ultimately mean — these eschatological portents are subject to interpretation — I’ve got a crazy gut-hunch that my future involves an extended stay in a certain tranquil South Sea paradise. IYKWIMAITYD.
It’s the rainy season now in Vanuatu, but today the forecast was for partly cloudy skies with a high temperature of 87 degrees, meaning that somewhere in Vanuatu the sun is shining. However, if I’m ever going to bask in the balmy breezes beneath the palm trees that line those white sandy beaches, Senator Santorum’s going to have to grab some serious mojo in Iowa. And I’m flying out Monday morning, baby.
Mrs. Other McCain is packing my suitcase, and I’m about to pack up my laptop to be ready to roll out to the airport before dawn. And when I checked in online for my flight to Cedar Rapids, the boarding pass included a link to a forecast, which I thought might be of interest to American Spectator readers:
If Mitt Romney wins next week’s Iowa caucuses, blame global warming.
Mild weather on caucus night Jan. 3 would help a well-funded moderate like the former Massachusetts governor. However, if one of Iowa’s fierce winter storms should hit next Tuesday, the blizzard would favor those candidates with more fanatical supporters, including Texas Rep. Ron Paul. At least that’s how former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sees it.
“If the weather is good, Mitt Romney is in better shape. If the weather is bad and it’s real tough to get out, Ron Paul will win,” Huckabee said on “Fox News Sunday.” Huckabee, who scored an upset win in Iowa four years ago, said Paul’s supporters have “extraordinary devotion” and are willing to “walk over broken glass for him.”
At this point, meteorological predictions would appear to favor Romney. The Weather Channel 10-day forecast for Cedar Rapids, Iowa — where I’ll be flying in Monday to begin eight days of campaign coverage — shows mostly sunny and relatively warm weather for the Hawkeye State. Only one day (Monday, Jan. 2) between now and the first-in-the-nation caucuses will have a high temperature below freezing. Several days will have highs in the low 40s. No snow is forecast in the next 10 days, and there is only one day with a 20 percent chance of rain. For the actual day of the caucuses, the current forecast is for mostly sunny skies with a high of 36 degrees. . . .
You know who this really helps, don’t you? Yeah. Read the whole thing — yet another glorious triumph of Neutral Objective Journalism on the long and winding road to Vanuatu.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! The cultic ritual has once more been rewarded with cargo — another omen, I tell you!
UPDATE II: And I just now got my 10,000th Twitter follower — surely this must be another omen of momentous significance.
- Dec. 21: The Weird Turn Pro
- Dec. 20: Slouching Toward Cedar Rapids
- Dec. 19: Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Strange Rumblings in the Heartland
- Dec. 5: Three Weeks From Today
- Dec. 3: Destination Iowa: The Intersection of Preparation and Opportunity
- Aug. 2: ‘That Evil Hour’