The name Super Tuesday is something of an oxymoron. It’s like Excellent Hernia or Facebook Privacy. Super implies heroic and unexpected feats. Tuesday implies the opposite. True to form, nothing particularly unexpected occurred. The only excitement came when the inevitable was late. If this night were a superhero, it would be Aquaman.
In the words of Rick Perry, “it wasn’t a super night for anyone.”
Two thousand and twelve’s Tuesday evening was something of a disappointment for everyone involved — except Newt Gingrich. And any night that does not disappoint Newt Gingrich is invariably disappointing to everyone else. Newt seemed very pleased with himself. Then again, that’s Newt’s general demeanor. He had a simple task: win Georgia, his home state. He did so handily.
Complaining about Elites was a theme of the evening. They think they know better than we do how to run the country, groused Santorum. They think they know better than the voters of Georgia do who will be the next president, groused Gingrich.
Not to argue for the Elites, a disgusting bunch who should stop sticking their noses into everyone’s votes, but this one time, they may be right.
Everyone — with the exception of Romney, who knows better than to bite the hand that might slowly and begrudgingly start feeding him soon — complained about those Elites.
Gingrich’s speech was a rambling fantasia in which he imagined the contours of a multi-hour Lincoln-Douglas debate with Barack Obama. Is anyone familiar with “Rose’s Turn,” the concluding number in the Sondheim musical, Gypsy, when a horrifying diva of a stage mother comes surging out and imagines taking a turn in the spotlight? That was the Georgia speech.
“The president says, the Republicans have three strategies,” Gingrich informed his listeners. “Strategy number one is drilling; strategy number two is drilling; strategy number three is drilling. I want to say to him, Mr. president, this is one of the rare occasions when I can say: You are right.
“But the president had an alternative to drilling” — algae-based fuel, he later explained — “and this is why debating him would be just one of those moments where you could almost sell tickets for charity.”
It’s Newt’s turn!
Next I expected him to bellow, “You either got it or you ain’t! And I got it!” all while shimmying around the stage. “Everything’s coming up roses! For me! For me! For me!” Bette Midler did it better, but not by much.
This might have been a hallucination induced by all the animated stars and pirate music that accompanied the end of each commercial break, making me think that Super Tuesday was something to do with apocalyptic space pirates.
If so, it was still better than the hallucinatory moments of the Rick Santorum speech, in which he proudly announced that he was hosting his victory rally in a high school gymnasium and that his war room was in their weights room. Here I thought prom was the most awkward use of a high school gym. How wrong I was. In spite, or because of, this set-up, Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota.
Then Mitt Romney showed up, and, after Ann Romney thanked a long litany of people, he appreciated Massachusetts for a few minutes, recounted a few of his more recent encounters with humans, and reassured us that he was going to create business. The crowd seemed much more excited than he did, varying its shouting from “USA! USA!” to “MITT! MITT! MITT!” to “ALL THE WAY!” He won Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, and Idaho — and, it would seem, Ohio, albeit not by much.
Even the news media didn’t seem wild. CNN devoted nearly twenty minutes to pondering whether or not Sarah Palin could still get in the race. Everyone seemed quite animated, yelling and waving. The headline “Sarah Palin Voted In Alaska” appeared at the bottom of the screen. It was the most animated they would get all evening. Could they not even pretend to be mildly interested by the slate of actual candidates? Do they generally spend their wedding nights waxing lyrical about the ones that got away?
Later, Palin appeared on Fox and noted that she’d voted for Newt Gingrich.
Ron Paul had the right idea. He delivered his speech early, in North Dakota. For all I know, he went to bed early, too. If so, he didn’t miss much.
Everyone got what he said he wanted. None of it was quite enough.
It was a Tuesday.
But I wouldn’t call it Super.