Parsing Iowa results is like trying to solve the old riddle of why French intellectuals loved screwball comic Jerry Lewis, critics gave “The Nutty Professor” their Oscar and the government showered him with honors.
In the world of slapstick, you never know which way the croissant will crumble and, post-Iowa, Michele Bachmann is gone, Rick Perry has his foot on a banana peel and Newt is revving up to pummel Mitt in a round of revenge debates.
In the Anyone-But-Romney Sweepstakes, the umpteenth frontrunner is now Rick Santorum, whose default facial expression is that of the kid in the big family who always got the smallest slice of pie, and he will do without help from previous nominee John McCain, who is endorsing Romney, at least in part as a result of Senate brawls over torture with Santorum accusing the former POW of “not understanding how advanced interrogation works.”
The next day on his Facebook page, a McCain aide wrote, “Ron Paul may be the wackiest candidate in the G.O.P. field. But for pure, blind stupidity, nobody beats Santorum. In my 20 years in the Senate, I never met a dumber member, which he reminded me of today.”
Back on the stump in New Hampshire, McCain is using former Governor John Sununu as a straight man, telling his old knee-slapper about “the two inmates in the chow line in the state prison and one of them turned to the other and said the food was a lot better in here when you were governor.”
Now, Santorum himself is facing advanced interrogation—-about his “man on dog” comments on gay sex, among other gems—-while Ron Paul’s best hope seems be a rich Conservatives’ “emergency meeting” in his native Texas to coalesce behind a single candidate.
The Obama White House, of course, is watching this with great interest, hoping the GOP will be French toast all year, and fervently praying over the two-party system, “Vive le difference!”