Matt Taibbi on the Republican race

In a piece written just after Newt Gingrich surprisingly won the South Carolina primary and before Rick Santorum even more surprisingly eclipsed him just a week later, Taibbi hits the mark, pointing out that the most entertaining part of the Republican party nomination race is not who wins eventually but to see the oligarchy desperately trying to reassert control of a system that is being threatened with an insurgency by the peasants.

They may be shit for choosing a good candidate for the presidency, but say this for the Republican primaries: They’re fast turning into the most luridly entertaining political spectacle of our time. In an inherently conservative, bottomlessly moneyed, scrupulously stage-managed electoral system designed to preclude chance or weirdness from playing any part in determining our political future, the unthinkable is happening: real drama. This isn’t part of some clever but inscrutable master plan, put on by the hidden hands who run this country, to fool or distract the masses. This is an unscripted fuck-up of heroic dimensions, radiating downward from the highest levels of our society, playing out in real time for all of us to watch. Our oligarchy has thrown a rod.

If Romney is a scripted automaton who could make it through a year’s worth of marital coitus without one spontaneous utterance, Gingrich is his exact opposite – taken prisoner in war, Newt would be blabbing state secrets without torture within minutes, and minutes after that would be calling his guards idiots who lack his nuanced grasp of European history, and minutes after that would be lying to two of his captors about an affair he had with the third.

[T]he GOP chose to snub any semblance of substance, floating one candidate after another – from Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann to Herman Cain and Rick Perry – who could not hold on to the lead for more than a few hours before tripping and falling into the machinery. It now appears that whoever winds up winning the Republican nomination will be a reform-hating friend of the one percent who will happily gobble whatever hundreds of millions of dollars Wall Street has left over to donate to the GOP, after it’s finished lavishing its election-year tribute on Barack Obama. The best we can hope for, it appears, is some truly high-quality reality-show drama. The campaign is a circus like we’ve never seen before. We may get worse candidates, but at least we’re getting a better show.

As with almost all of Taibbi’s work, you really need to read the whole thing. It is hugely, laugh-out-loud, entertaining.


  1. lordshipmayhem says

    I’ve always considered Rick Perry’s early success to be due to people hearing him sing “California Gurlz” and “Firework”, and thinking him to be the kind of dude to appeal to America’s youth.
    Later, when they found out they were thinking of the wrong Perry, they dumped on the guy.

  2. jamessweet says

    Taibbi is not a particularly honest commentator. He distorts; he quote-mines; he engages in hyperbolic and unfair criticism, without the slightest capacity for nuance or self-reflection; and then there was that whole plagiarism flap to boot.

    But holy shit is he funny. You are quite right, I did literally laugh out loud within the first two paragraphs. Can’t wait to finish it.

    Put another way: I would never use Taibbi as a source to try to convince someone of my point of view. But myself already being a member of the “choir”, every time he gets up to “preach” I practically start rubbing my hands in anticipation. Love it!

  3. says

    And this description of Gingrich is probably the most succinct and accurate depiction of him I’ve ever read:

    Gingrich…despite an utter lack of self-control is a cunning old crook with a keen instinct for combat…

    This is why he gets away with that “smartest guy in the room” persona: He’s not so much uber-smart as he is cunning.

  4. says

    Gingrich alone offers GOP voters the emotional payoff they want out of an election – an impassioned fight against the conspiracy, played out in thrillingly contrary three-hour debates on health care with the liberal Satan. Gingrich lives for confrontation: He was born for this sort of insurgent primary politics.

    The only problem is, he’s a bloviating, egomaniacal hog clinging to a third marriage who suffers from incurable diarrhea of the mouth…

    Ah hahahahahahahaha…

  5. KG says

    I’m no great admirer of Obama – I’m a democratic socialist, he’s a moderate conservative who clearly doesn’t care about civil liberties – but this from Tabibi:

    And a plausible candidate would have been better for everyone, not just Republicans, because the nation will suffer when Obama cruises to victory next fall on a sea of open-marriage jokes, instead of having to face a cogent argument against useless bailouts, endless wars and economic mismanagement.

    strikes me as ridiculous. The “useless” bailouts have, whatever their faults, so far avoided the full-scale financial meltdown which threatened when Obama took over; one of the “endless wars” has been, well, ended, at least as far as US forces are concerned; and despite an obvious Republican congressional determination to sabotage it, the American economy is apparently improving.

  6. Mano Singham says

    I don’t think that Taibbi is saying that Obama cannot make counter-arguments along the lines you suggest but that he won’t have to even bother to do so.

    As for the financial bailouts, I think that one could make the case that the big banks did not have to pay any price for the bailout and were left free to continue what they did before, which is what makes the bailouts ‘useless’. Obama could have done to the banks what the FDIC routinely does with smaller banks that fail. The government could have taken them over, removed the existing management and replaced them with new ones, instituted new rules for operation and oversight, and then returned them to the private sector.

    In addition, in the case of the big banks, they could have broken them up into smaller units so that they were no longer ‘too big to fail’, which was part of the problem. Obama did none of these things.

  7. KG says

    Oh, I agree he should have done a lot more (and why return them to the private sector?) – but that’s not what Tabibi appeared to be saying.

  8. KG says

    To add to that, I don’t see any advantage in Obama having to defend himself from right-wing attacks. I hope to see a full-scale meltdown and disintegration of the Rethuglican party, and a slew of radical (well, radical in American terms) Dems elected to Congress.

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