Stephen Bainbridge says he is tempted to endorse Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination because he would make for a far more interesting campaign than a Mitt Romney nomination would. And he’s right, of course.
At the end of the day, however, what likely will tip the scales for me is the sheer entertainment factor. Romney versus Obama will be a snoozefest, mainly because Romney elicits no passion from anybody.
Newt versus Barack, however, could be vastly entertaining. Two really smart guys, both of whom are good speakers, and both of whom will be at least affecting being really pissed off at the other and the other’s base. If the Newt who tore into John King the other day shows up at the debates, they will be truly great TV.
Since I don’t think anybody in Washington or running to be in Washington can fix the problems we face, why not vote for the circus?
This reminds me of Mencken’s famous statement that the one great charm of democracy is that it’s the only truly amusing form of government, which he follows up with this:
I confess, for my part, that it greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself – that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating.
This is a tempting position to take, especially today. Imagine how much more cynical Mencken would have been if he’d lived to see just how absurd our political system had become today.