Oval Office Thunderdome: Soopah Tooosday!!!!

It’s finally here, the biggest day of the Republican Presidential Primary season. Today, Republicans in 10 states go to the polls to pick who will represent the party in the general election in the fall. To say the race thus far has been interesting would be an understatement. It has been dazzling. Watching the fortunes of the ‘anyone but Mitt’ candidates wax and wane like the cycles of the moon has been nothing short of riveting. Rick Perry: gone. Herman Cain: gone. Michele Bachmann: gone. Donald Fucking Trump: GONE. And now, only four men remain.

Mitt Romney — the former governor of Massachusetts and the supposed establishment candidate that, until this past weekend, the establishment didn’t seem to want.

Rick Santorum — the former junior senator from Pennsylvania. He lost reelection in 2006 by 30 points, but you can’t keep a stubborn man down. His regressive views on morality and the place of women in society is abhorrent, and probably what is going to keep him from getting the nomination.

Newt Gingrich — the former Speaker of the House. Probably the most unlikable man in Washington, Newt was a flavor of the month for a bit earlier this year, but fell to the side like all the others.

Ron Paul — the congressman from Texas’s 22nd District, is a certifiable whacko. He’s also a Libertarian, the political ideology that is conservatism by another name. Paul seems to believe that government can do no good, at any time, at all. He’s a fringe candidate at best, and will never get the nod to run for president from a major party, but the fact he’s hung on this long and gotten the attention he has is a victory for libertarianism. Being in the spotlight has shifted the national debate further to the right, and that is a feat that cannot be underestimated.

Missile Test will be updating all night as results come in and I can think of appropriate witticisms. The first polls closed at 6:30, and it’s now 7:03, so we are off.

7:09PM

Polls have closed in Georgia, and with 0% reporting, the New York Times has called the state for Newt Gingrich. That is impressive. I won’t pretend to understand what goes on in a newsroom on an election night, but the race to be the first to report has to have a little more credibility than that, right?

North Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming are also closed. That’s rough for Wyoming, seeing as how the sun isn’t even down there yet.

There was little doubt that Gingrich was going to win Georgia. It’s his home state, and the people there have always been fans. But, this should be Newt’s swan song. Staying in the race any longer after tonight is little more than a waste of time and money, as the former Speaker is contributing nothing to the debate at this point.

7:24PM

Last Super Tuesday, I watched live streams from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. This year, CNN is streaming from the various candidates’ headquarters, and not from their newsroom. MSNBC is not streaming at all. Fox just came online at 7:15, but apparently their streaming software doesn’t like OSX. The New York Times is streaming coverage tonight, a first for them, I believe.

Ron Paul wins Vermont. The win in Vermont marks Paul’s first ever primary victory. This was a state Romney was supposed to win, so that’s the first surprise of the night.

As for the live streams, come the fuck on! How can this be 2012, and I cannot see live streams of ANY of the cable news networks on the biggest night of primaries in the year? This is a huge fail on the part of the news channels. They’re shit, to be sure, but they are the most entertaining stops on election night, and they do have the most up to date results. And the network broadcasts? ABC is showing Jeopardy, Fox is showing The Simpsons, NBC is airing Extra!, and CBS is going with Insider. Jesus Christ.

Oops. The Times has changed their Vermont winner to Romney. Guess what, Times. I saw what you had before. And so did my readers. All three of them. Romney takes Virginia.

Correction: I can’t read graphics. Romney is LEADING in Vermont and Virginia. Shame on me. I apologize, New York Times.

7:41PM

Rick Santorum is a moral Neanderthal. There is no candidate more out of touch with modern America. Were he to win the nomination, I cannot think of any major party candidate in history this out of touch and regressive. During this campaign season he has managed to denigrate getting a higher education (the most reliable means of entering the middle class and maintaining steady employment), mothers in the workforce, the separation of church and state, secularism, and women’s health, among others. His views are stuck in an imaginary retread of the 1950s where the house around the corner is occupied by George Will and the Beaver. It’s a total fantasy.

Rick Santorum is a scary candidate because he is a true believer. He believes that the United States is a Christian nation. He rejects the basic tenets of the Enlightenment, and the idea that the Enlightenment informed the founding fathers of the United States. He seems to completely miss the idea that his candidacy has been possible only because there is no religious test in the Constitution. Santorum is a Catholic. The first Catholic to get a major party nomination, New York Governor Al Smith, was pasted in the 1928 election, largely because of anti-Catholic bigotry. JFK was able to overcome such bigotry and win the presidency, yet the legendary and impassioned speech Kennedy gave that paved the way for his victory has been attacked by Santorum as something that makes him want to puke.

He is totally unbelievable.

A couple years back, when it became clear Santorum was exploring a run, I wrote an article detailing the challenges he would have winning the nomination. Without getting too into the details, Santorum has a tough road because while he can win severely conservative states, he cannot win primaries in the populous coast states, whose Republican voters are unlikely to latch on to culture warriors like Santorum. That scenario is now playing out. Santorum should survive Super Tuesday, but his momentum will keep sliding, because of the coastal voters, and because his message is alienating women voters and coming off as a bit crazy.

Romney takes Vermont and Virginia. I swear.

7:44PM

Network update!

Wheel of Fortune, Big Bang Theory, and a couple more entertainment newsmagazines. Good job, networks. Way to use that public spectrum. I want my light back.

8:05PM

Fox News is live on the internet. All right, fellas. Of course, it is the Fox News b-team. I have no idea who these talking heads are. They look like newscasters they grabbed from a local affiliate and stuck in front of a webcam. No matter. Fox News, your meager online effort is still the best of the night among the cable news networks. Good job.

Ron Paul is talking at his campaign headquarters right now. He’s doing his usual act of bringing the crazy along with the sensible. His domestic policy ideas are destructive in the kindest of analyses, while his attacks on the Iraq War and the Patriot Act are spot on.

I attack libertarianism as conservatism by another name, but when it comes to civil liberties, libertarianism has much in common with liberalism. It goes to show that political morality is not something that resides in well-defined circles. There is a liberal and a conservative stance on every issue, but there is no American that holds a 100% liberal or 100% conservative morality.

Paul is staying in his wheelhouse right now. That is, civil liberties in relation to the war on terror. He is rightly horrified by the eroding of Constitutional liberties in the name of national security. If he goes off the rails and starts talking about defunding fire departments and road repair crews, this could get ugly.

With less than one-percent reporting in Ohio, Romney has a two-point lead over Santorum. Ohio is the race to watch tonight. If Romney wins, his road to the nomination is far less bumpy. If Santorum wins, he gets to hound Romney until the coastal Republicans vote and send that dinosaur back to his house in PA.

There’s a new strain in Republican thought that says a Santorum nomination would be good for the GOP, because he would get pasted by Obama, and thus free the GOP from the grip of the tea party and other hardline ultra-conservatives. I agree. For too long, there has been a conservative party in this country, and the Democrats. I would welcome the GOP becoming the so-called middle party so the Democrats would be freed up to become the nation’s liberal party.

With 0% reporting, Romney takes Massachusetts. Santorum takes Oklahoma. No surprise there. Obama didn’t even win a single county in that state in the 2008 general election. Historically a Democratic outlier, Oklahoma has moved firmly into Utah territory the last four years.

8:08PM

Network update!

NCIS, The Biggest Loser, Raising Hope, and Last Man Standing.

Stay classy, networks. Keep using that public spectrum.

8:24PM

As per election night tradition, Russell and Carlos have arrived. They bring with them debauchery and ignorance, but their presence makes democracy tolerable. Let me clarify. I hold politicians to a much higher standard than I do myself. Especially those who choose to make personal behavior an issue in political morality. If a politician makes a certain behavior a campaign issue (say, marital infidelity), and it turns out they are cheating on their wife, then that is fair game for the press. But overall, I do not believe that the personal lives of politicians, or their constituents, is something that politicians need to address. The problems of governing this country are steep enough without our elected leaders taking on the mantle of being our moral compass. Take it deep, I say.

At this point, Carlos would like me to point out that the GOP had better get their shit together on immigration or they will find themselves rendered irrelevant by demographics. And he has a point. Carlos is a Catholic, and a fairly conservative one at that. He, and a good portion of his family, he assures me, would vote GOP if it weren’t for the palpable amount of immigrant hate spewing from that party.

Me: Can anyone in your family vote, Carlos?

Carlos: Blow me.

Romney still leading in Ohio, Santorum jumping out to big leads early in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

8:41PM

Can Mitt Romney beat Obama? Yes, he can. The economic news the last few months has been the driving force behind the president’s surge in national polls. If the economic indicators stay consistently positive, there is little chance Obama will lose. But such consistency is probably not possible, especially not with Europe still in the grip of austerity (in the face of all historic and economic evidence). Europe is headed for a big fall. If it happens in the next nine months, and it takes the American economy with it, Obama is in big trouble if Romney is the Republican nominee, maybe even sunk.

At this point, I need to interject on myself. The Fox News live feed is picking up steam. They’ve run out Pat Caddell on the stream. This fella is ready to drop a nuclear bomb on the Republican Party and call the 2012 election for Obama. He is a hilarious pessimist, to the point that one can understand why he’s stuck on the internet b-team. Fantastic stuff, though. The Fox News stream on Super Tuesday is like watching a b-movie. Fantastic.

Anyway, in a weird way, Obama’s fate rests on the economic prospects of Europe. Maintaining an even strain almost guarantees a win in November. Any sort of economic temblor can sink him, and the most likely origin of such an event is Europe, which shows all signs of going into a double-dip recession. Good job, Germany. If there’s a President Romney, it’s your fault.

8:48PM

Network update!

Cougar Town, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, The Biggest Loser, NCIS.

This evening is only about the leader of the free world, no need to report on it.

8:59PM

Say what you will about Newt Gingrich, and I’ve said a lot, the man gives good speech. His ‘victory’ speech in Georgia is uplifting, optimistic, and fluid. The man knows what he’s doing. But his candidacy has always been a dichotomy of flashes of brilliance and unrealistic ideas. Now he’s naming the states he’s going to go to and win. ‘We’re going on to’ etc. Oh, Newt, that’s the self-written obituary of every candidacy. Just ask Howard Dean.

Oh, well. I wish I could say it was nice knowing you, Newt. But you’re an asshole, you’ve always been an asshole, and you will always be an asshole. Have fun seeing the Oval Office during the White House tour.

Santorum wins Tennessee.

9:11PM

20% reporting in Ohio and Santorum is ahead slightly. This one is going down to the wire, probably past Missile Test’s bedtime. There is precedence for this. My last post in the midterms was at 1:30AM, and the issue had not been settled yet.

Network update!

Fuck the catalogue of shows. None of the networks is airing news on Super Tuesday. Once again, I would remind my viewers that the networks broadcast on publicly owned spectrum, yet they are ignoring the most important voting day of the year to this point. How dare they!

9:36PM

Rick Santorum’s headquarters is on the CNN feed, and he is being introduced by a man who believes the federal government has no role in curbing global warming. Very nice.

Santorum is in Ohio tonight, as befits the state of the race. He needs to have a solid presence in Ohio, and ending the night in any other state would have been foolish. A bizarre note, the introductory music for his speech appears to be either the soundtrack for The Natural or Hoosiers. I can’t tell. Either way, it’s gone on for literally minutes. It’s a display of ego rarely seen in news coverage.

As he finally takes the stage, he is presaged by his family, marching out dutifully in khakis and sweater vests. He is rocking Steubenville.

So far, nothing incendiary, but it’s early. The man is still praising his large Catholic family. This could take all night.

Romney is ahead in Wyoming. Santorum takes Oklahoma. Impossible to say at this point how many delegates each candidate has won, since the GOP primaries are weighted, and therefore, fair.

Russell: That’s Santorum, huh?

Me: Yep.

Russell: You know, man. I read that shit in the Village Voice when Savage hung that shit on his name.

Me: Yeah, that was something, right?

Russell: Tell you what, man. Santorum may be an asshole, but what do you have to do to deserve some shit like that.

Me: He’s not just an asshole, Russell. He’s a HUGE asshole. You know that.

Russell: …Yeah, you’re probably right. Fuck that guy. What the fuck does he care about sex anyways? He’s old as fuck. Is he still fucking? If sex is all about having kids, is he still fucking his wife?

And there it is. That’s a good fucking question. Former senator Rick Santorum, you have seven kids. You have stated that the purpose of sex is procreation. Are you still having sex with your wife? Are you still trying to procreate after all these years, or is there a religious exception for long-term marriages?

Do you think it is okay for insurance companies to cover Viagra for men whose wives are past menopause? By your logic, every time they make whoopee is a sin. How does your sex life compare? An unfair comparison? Not if you’re going to be objective about bedroom morality.

Now Santorum is into Obamacare. And we creep into the crazy. It would be one thing if Santorum were against the federal insurance mandate for conservative reasons. Rather, he’s against it because he sees elements of it as an attack against religion. Oh, shit.

What I’m curious about is how the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Christian Scientists are handling the new healthcare law. Fringe elements within those religions shun healthcare completely. Yet their taxes contribute to Medicaid and Medicare. Is there going to be an exemption under a Santorum administration for these religions?

Carlos: Blow me, Ricardo.

Blow me, indeed.

10:07PM

36% reporting in Ohio, and Santorum is up by 3 points. What a race. The thing is, Romney would have had the nomination wrapped up weeks ago if he didn’t seem so damned insincere.

Romney has never, at any point in this race or in 2008, seemed like a genuine human being. He has always been stiff and disconnected, and never more so than when he rolls out his gaffe of the week showing he has nothing in common with ordinary Americans.

This can be a serious problem with any candidate. With Romney, it’s proving to be.

Of the last 12 presidents, 8 came from nothing. They grew up either poor, underprivileged, or a combination of the two. We are historically a country that elects nouveau riche to the White House. That, combined with Romney’s complete tone-deafness to American conditions, does not bode well for Romney in the fall.

Romney is giving his victory speech now, and he’s saying that the danger of an Obama reelection is an unrestrained second term. That may be convenient for a campaign speech, but it’s damn far away from the facts. A president’s second term is always, ALWAYS, a total waste of time.

Let’s go through history a bit.

George W. Bush came into his second term with an inflated sense of his mandate, picturing an overhaul of social security featuring privatization as within his reach. He was rebuffed immediately, and spent the entirety of his second term in damage control, and fixing a disastrous Iraq War.

Clinton spent his second term fighting off partisan attacks and a ridiculous impeachment.

Reagan spent his second term in danger of prosecution for the Iran-Contra affair, and his administration existing under a cloud of a massive amount of other indictments. To this day, no other administration in American history has sent as many officials to jail. His second term was totally crippled.

Nixon had Watergate. Enough said.

Johnson was so screwed, he bowed out rather than run for a second term.

And on and on and on. Second terms are a historical black hole for presidents. Any president who thinks they can put off big policy ideas to the second term is woefully misguided, as there has never been a second term president in history that has been a maverick.

GOP, if Obama wins, don’t despair. He, and his aides, will probably spend so much time testifying or fending off subpoenas that nothing will get done for the next four years.

No new states called.

10:11PM

Network update!

NBC News is on the air. Congratulations, assholes.

10:45PM

After ten o’clock, and Ohio is not getting any clearer. There are talking heads saying the race could go into an automatic recount owing to a close outcome. There’s little clue which candidate this would be good for. Any sniping coming from either camp tomorrow could be damaging to the national image of their campaigns, always bad. But how much value is there in going all out for Ohio’s votes?

If Ohio turns into an ugly recount, I doubt either Romney or Santorum would wish to pursue the race to the extent, say, that Al Franken and Norm Coleman took things in Minnesota in 2008. For one thing, both candidates need a quick and clear result. For another, a nasty fight over Ohio’s 66 delegates would do nothing for either candidate’s image in the rest of the country. In fact, a petty struggle would be just that: petty. At a certain point, the voters demand that their candidate stop being a dick. At a certain point, the voters demand civility and good grace. A mess in Ohio could expose Romney or Santorum as the dickhead GOP voters do not want.

10:58PM

Chuck Todd is shitting himself on NBC. He thinks Santorum is about to pull out the upset of the century. He made Brian Williams shake his head on national television. That’s never a good sign. Chuck, you are right. Romney may come out of the night with less than 50% of the available delegates, but it won’t be below 48%, which, in a 4-way race, would still make him a massive winner. Your sudden insight into the outcome of the GOP race looks like nothing more than a bloated coke binge. Sorry for the outlandish rhetoric, Chuck, but when your eyes stop darting back and forth, I’ll believe you’re sober.

No new results.

11:12PM

11PM, network update!

Big Bang Theory on Fox, local news everywhere else. There’s nothing I want more on Super Tuesday than to watch the local talent weigh in on a national election. After all, every single one of them proved their reportorial talents during the last tanker explosion on I-95.

Russell and Carlos have been relative non-entities tonight. Carlos made his customary early exit after preparing his exquisite meatball subs. But Russell is still here. Here’s a short exchange, partly in real time.

Me: What do you think of Rick Santorum?

Russell: He’s an asshole.

Me: Anything more specific?

Russell: No way. It’s obvious. The man is an asshole. No explanation necessary.

Me: So who’s going to win Ohio?

Russell: How the fuck am I supposed to know? I don’t know, man. I’m not from Ohio. You’re from Ohio. Why the fuck don’t you know?

Me: What about Romney? You think he’s going to come out ahead tonight?

Russell: Maybe. I don’t know, man. I mean, the Republicans have been in the news but, fuck them, man. I ain’t voting for any of those assholes. Come November, I don’t see any one of them getting it, you know?

Me: So you’re going to vote for Obama?

Russell: Maybe, man. I guess. If I vote, you know. Yeah. I mean, Obama hasn’t been all that, but these guys (gesturing at television), shit. They’re straight up assholes. Fuck them.

Well said, my friend. Well said.

An Election Night Aside

Transcript of an IM conversation I just had:

Me: soopah tooosday!!!!

Shane: fart

Me: better than watching lohan on snl

Shane: true

11:56PM

Ohio is till too close to call, but the county I grew up in, Summit, has gone for Romney. I don’t know why, but this makes me feel good. One of the reasons I left Ohio was an incompatibility with local political mores. So why should I give a shit about how my former district votes? Answer: I shouldn’t.

But for some reason I still look back on my homeland with fondness, despite a lifetime of experience to the contrary. The weather sucks, and so do the Browns, Indians, and Cavs, but there’s still a little spark of life that reminds me the denizens of Ohio would rise up like the Phoenix given half the chance. But only after bitching about it for a few centuries.

And Ohio is what the GOP is hanging their nomination on. Ohio is a populous state, and a complicated one. I doubt that any candidate in the next 20 years will understand what it means to be from Ohio. The whole state is about the slow decline of America. It has seen manufacturing jobs leave, college graduates bolt, and its biggest three cities make the top ten list of the most despised cities in America. Holy shit.

Yet Ohio matters. Amazing.

Still no more news from the campaign front.

FART!

The race in Ohio is still too close to call, yet the networks, all of them, are not showing coverage of the primaries. AFY.

12:43AM

And Mitt Romney wins Ohio. Thank goodness. No more of this mess.