Bob Franken

King Features Column

     (The usual deal with the syndicators means this column appears here a week after its newspaper release which is certainly apparent this time)

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       FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, FEB. 7, 2012
       Oh sure, Newt Gingrich got stomped in the Nevada caucus. For starters, Mitt Romney benefited from a turnout of his fellow Mormons — a full 20 percent of those voting, making it somewhat of a Latter-day Saturday — but even though Gingrich finished a distant second, he might very well have engineered a real setback for Romney.
       Obviously we’re talking about the endorsement by The Donald, a real bad fit for The Mitt. There they were: Trump, blustery as usual, bestowing his dubious blessing as Romney stood off to the side, looking almost prissy by comparison. Who wouldn’t, appearing alongside such a blow-dried blowhard?
       The night before, various news organizations displayed quite the confusion as they grossly overcovered the entire matter. In their haste to claim the “First, Fast and Semi-Factual” prize, several got it wrong when they reported that Trump was planning to endorse Newt Gingrich.
       But, consider this scenario: Maybe the media were NOT incorrect. Don’t forget that Newt is one Machiavellian dude. Maybe, he called Trump and asked him to reverse course because he could do far more good for Gingrich if he endorsed Romney.
       Or maybe he had Sheldon Adelson make the call. Adelson is pretty much Newt’s sole financial backer — in a relationship so deep that if he withdrew support, there could be an alimony battle. He’s a billionaire casino owner. Perhaps he made the overture to his fellow billionaire casino owner instead, using the kind of persuasive tactics people in this world have been known to employ.
       It’s just a theory, mind you, but it certainly makes more sense than what actually transpired. When Romney nervously told reporters, “There are some things that you just can’t imagine in your life; this is one of them,” he wasn’t kidding. He’s someone who gives the impression that he hasn’t a clue what “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” means.
       He certainly didn’t stay any longer than he had to. He and the others took their circus maximus on to the next stops, where they are now besieging the poor people of Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and points beyond.

       By the way, the Super Bowl ringmasters missed a real opportunity when they didn’t make their halftime show a presidential debate. Admit it, instead of Madonna, wouldn’t you have preferred Mitt, Newt, Rick and Ron — The Pander Band? Why didn’t this occur to anyone? Maybe it was the fear of a wardrobe malfunction.
       Put that into the Big Ideas trash can. Hopefully it will be joined by Newt’s call for a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate. Never mind that it would be mind-numbing; he spouts that idea so he can associate himself with Abraham Lincoln, which appeals to the gullible voters he’s trying to attract, the ones who can’t figure out that his lunar colony idea is just a stream-of-consciousness rant.
       Wait: How about a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate at the lunar colony? Newt Gingrich is not the only one who thinks really, really big.
       Right now, though, he is trying to stay above water back here on this planet. In spite of getting hammered repeatedly, he is “not going to withdraw,” he says. Of course, with Newt, one always has to wonder if that really means “I’m withdrawing tomorrow.” Never forget that Newt Gingrich has risen from the gutter too many times to count. Not ABOVE the gutter, of course, since Tricky Newt plays Dirty Cesspool with the best of them. Don’t be surprised if Mitt Romney soon gets a ringing endorsement from Sarah Palin. In return, there will be a promise to give her a high post in the Gingrich administration. Real high, like on the moon.
       © 2012 Bob Franken
       Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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