By Robert Illes
King Arthur: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch.King Arthur: A scratch? Your arm's off.
Black Knight: No it isn't.
King Arthur: What's that, then?
Black Knight: [after a pause] I've had worse.
King Arthur: You liar.
Black Knight: Come on ya pansy
November 7th, 2012 – What a relief – in fact, a great pleasure – it is now to watch and/or listen to Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner and Fox News. After all this was the day after November 6, 2012 – the date of what was about as crushing a victory for Democrats as could have only been fantasized on November 5th via pre-legal pot (in certain states). In fact for a party of the right, it is ironic how wrong the Republicans and their flacks could be. There was no Dick Morris/George Will/Karl Rove predicted Romney landslide, there was no recapture of the Senate. Mitch McConnell’s silly determination to make Obama a one term President (and 300 filibusters in support of same) ultimately floundered like a turtle on its back. Trump birtherism was just stupid hairism.
Now, the day after their mighty and sweeping fail, these once fearsome and forever disgusting sociopaths elicited no fear. The junk yard dog has lost his teeth. The mean nun had her knuckles rapped by the Archbishop. Mighty Casey had struck out and languished weeping at his locker. Gandhi was prime minister, and the British Empire was sent home. There was justice in the world. Shane had gunned down Jack Wilson and the Rykers. There would be peace in the valley.
They were instantly irrelevant and silly. Karl Rove’s blown $300 million dollars, and stunning melt down on network TV when it was clear the computer network that was supposed to flip the Ohio vote didn’t were awesome to watch. Whatever attempts ten Republican governors and their crony secretaries of state in ten “battleground” states made to suppress the vote, or flip the vote, or rig the outcome, all failed dismally.
The Koch Brothers, Dick Armey, Foster Friese (please, with that name!), Morty S. (aka Sheldon) Adelson were not, after all, a league of supermen, and Citizens United was not the invincible Mr. Corporation; he may be human but he was human after all.
So let O’Reilly blab, and Hannity shriek about the war on Christmas. It’s over. Go home and talk to your family.
At least that was the thinking on November 7th. Surely they would take this all in, and seriously reflect on how far from reality the Tea Party and Norquist balloons had taken them.
But as the weeks unfolded since 11/6, it was clear defeat was hard to swallow. And that’s to be understood. Well, understood up to a point.
Indeed, initially there was some concession only of their “tone” being reason for defeat, not their policy – how stupid was it that Murdock and Akin blabbed about their feelings about rape and abortion (the very same policy as Paul Ryan – but he was wise enough to count that among his lies by not even mentioning it, rather than lying about it). Clint Eastwood and the chair was no help. And it was ceded, nobody liked that guy Romney anyway or his wicked wife anyway. But for those things, the Republican Party was alive and well. Obama caught a few lucky breaks. Denial. And hey, what mandate? Boehner, failed vice presidential candidate and Ayn Rand denier Paul Ryan and Republican flacks floated a freshly concocted Frank Luntz explanation: no mandate for Obama because, after all, the American public returned the Republican house to power (minus a dozen seats or so, of course) – proof they want divided government! Denial. And, of course, disingenuous since gerrymandering in 2011 had a lot to do with protecting Republican districts.
And before the inkavote ink had dried, there was Romney doubling down on his meme of the Obama having sewed up the freeloaders and takers. (The sweet irony would come later, when, after straggling precincts had finally tallied their votes, Romney’s popular vote total will stand, in history, at no less than 47%). Denial.
Okay, I’m an empathetic liberal. Sure there’ll be a period of denial, and then that would be followed by anger. Check. Negotiation. Check. And acceptance… no. No acceptance. Back to anger. Back to denial.
Remember the Black Knight bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Just a scratch!” There is obviously something beyond denial which that knight possessed, and now seems to have overtaken the Republicans at least in this lame duck period. It could be called many things, but we all recognize it: delusion.
[King Arthur has just cut the Black Knight's last leg off]
Black Knight: All right, we'll call it a draw.
King Arthur: [Preparing to leave] Come, Patsy.
[King Arthur and Patsy ride off]
Black Knight: [calling after King Arthur] Oh, oh, I see! Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!
There is a meme in some religions and 12 step groups that says “act as if…” Usually, it’s for the goodness of well being and self esteem, and grounded in reality. Act as if you are brave. Act as if you are happy.
But it’s difficult in an election to act as if you won, when you got shellacked.
And so the headless, legless Republican knight trudges on. Boehner demands concessions from a President in this so-called “fiscal cliff” debate, “concessions” for stuff roundly rejected by the voting public. John McCain and three luckless sidekicks decided to go after Susan Rice, the well respected Ambassador to the United Nations, because her name was floated to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Rice was blasted as being, basically, stupid for her dumb ass comments on Meet the Press and other “Sunday shows” – as if these shows are sanctioned by some government agency – about the attacks on the Benghazi consulate on September 11. They took the baseless attacks on Rice a step further – not only should she be kicked to the curb, but instead, the newly re-elected President was advised by this committee of losers - even before he nominated anybody - to pick Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts (the same guy these same folks allowed to be “swift boated” in 2004 during his failed Presidential run).
The curious side effect of Kerry’s resignation, of course, would be that his Massachusetts senate seat would become vacant and perhaps would almost certainly be an opening for a comeback of Scott Brown who had been handed his butt in the recent election by Elizabeth Warren. Could it be that Machiavellian? Well, oddly, three of the four Senators who trashed Rice – McCain, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Susan Collins of Maine – actively campaigned for Brown. Hmmm.
They lost, remember, and yet deign to call the shots. Denial or delusion? Do they look pathetic, stupid, weird, crazy? Yes, but as G. Gordon Liddy once said, “The trick is not minding.”
And so, regardless of the way America is “trending”, the Republican governors in the aforementioned “swing states” are feverishly concocting anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-union stripping bills in the dead of night. As we debate the fiscal cliff and murders in Connecticut, they are quietly knitting in the basement as it were (these people do not sleep), trying, in the case of Pennsylvania and Ohio, to weave a new way of counting electoral votes, based on congressional districts won, so that their states are no longer “winner take all”. Thumbing their nose, as they have all year, at the bloody battle for voting rights, young punk secretaries of state like John Husted of Ohio desperately connive to stop the wrong people from voting – not with firebombs or beatings, but with bureaucratic morass and long lines. And since the wrong people succeeded in voting anyway, on November 6, he and others like him will see what he can do about blunting the full force of those damn votes.
The Republicans seem to have an issue with “majority rule”. In the Senate, they routinely filibuster to stop the majority from ruling. In the general electorate, they must plot to enable their victories even with fewer votes than the other guy gets. They have their sociopathy covered: Democratic victory didn’t count anyway, it was stolen, you know, by Acorn. Or there was de facto bribery – so many giveaways were offered up to brown people, naturally they would happily stand in line for 10 hours. Curses! Foiled! All that Citizens United money down the drain!
And so there is a quest for Holy Grail of winning by other means. Bush did ascend to the Presidency despite losing popular AND electorate votes via the Supreme Court in 2000, but that well cannot be expected to quench ever again. But as their patriotic duty, they must find other ways - so convinced are they of the value of their policies that they must not allow the electorate to hurt itself, lest those policies don’t get enacted? Certainly the simplest thing to do is to act as if, and hope wimpy Dems cave. Declare victory, and DON’T depart the field.
And then there are the methods of cheating. But till they take hold, they flail and hope enough are convinced that they DIDN’T really lose. That they are still relevant, dammit. It’s Obama who’s doing nothing about the “fiscal cliff”. He’ll have to try harder because even though he won, big, he’s out of touch with the American people, he doesn’t have a mandate, he’s still a Muslim communist, we really won and we hold all the cards.
The Republicans have truly become the vaunted Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They have lost a stunning election, and declaring it was “just a scratch!” The knight’s other arm went. Then his legs. But he remained breathtakingly defiant. In denial. deluded. Here is full Monty Python clip: