So last night: greatest debate ever, right? The vicious babies on stage, God bless , were so busy sniping at each other about who had more Mexicans in their front yards that Anderson Cooper barely had any time to make the cheesy situational jokes that is CNN's calling card. Hoo boy, what a madcap muckfest. Then again, we're kind of worried about Mitt Romney, whose head and a good chunk of his upper torso will soon disappear in a horrific explosion.
Let's begin by remembering a Mittens Classic. Fellow dogged Romney mockers will recall a story from February, 2010, when Mitt Romney and wife Ann were flying back from the Vancouver Olympics. Mitt got into a bit of an scuffle before the plane took off. A man sitting in front of them reclined his chair, leading Romney to request that he move it up for takeoff. The guy got pissed off and supposedly "threatened violence" at Romney before being escorted off the plane.
The image of Mitt Romney reminding strangers on an airplane to put their seats in an upright position before takeoff led me to spend a day or so thinking up dumb jokes about what Mitt Romney's like on an airplane — lecturing fellow passengers for not wearing blue blazers and khakis, as is proper flying attire; complaining to flight attendants about the several instances of the word "darn" in the in-flight PG film; standing by the restroom with a stopwatch to ensure that no one took longer than 90 seconds; and so on. A louder, angrier, lecturing shithead-ier version of Romney's voice was the key to making these dumb jokes passable. And that's the *exact* voice that Mitt Romney unveiled for the first time in real life last night, while yelling at Rick Perry, between 1:00 and 1:10 in the above clip. It was a debate miracle!
And yet such an unorthodox and troublesome sign from the usually sturdy Romney. By the time of the Perry exchange, Romney had just finished up swatting down Rick Santorum, too, with a slightly milder version of that angry voice, after Santorum was accusing Romney of papering over past statements in which he'd said he'd like to see the health care model he established in Massachusetts extended to the rest of the country. Santorum made a fine point, but one that Romney will still usually escape by delivering an unrelated canned dodge. And yet here he was getting all hot and bothered in an anxious, whiny way that is not unlike Rick Santorum's baseline temperament.
Mitt Romney had no reason to purposefully lose his mind and it might do him some harm. The clip with Perry especially looks uglier and uglier for Romney with each additional viewing. So the only fair explanation for why Romney went nuts last night is that it was involuntary, and that his body is showing symptoms of an impending, long-in-the-works explosion. He has been lying about everything without interruption for five straight years to appeal to a base of voters with whom he cannot make a connection. He has done everything "right," cynically speaking, in this campaign so far, and is running against a traveling children's circus of bottom-feeders, each of whom is mostly doing this to promote his or her latest ghostwritten book on television. And Romney still can't manage to get past 20 or 25% in the polls.
It's not healthy to let years' worth of around-the-clock public and personal frustrations build up without release. Last night's rage was the early signal we've been expecting from Romney for some time now, that the end is near. His eyes and face were red the whole evening, his skull nearing maximum pressure. Give credit to Romney — he's kept this "lie about everything at all times and fake-smile at everyone and completely deny yourself a personhood" scheme running much longer than human research suggested was possible. But now it's clear that his head is going to explode in the very near future, during a fit of colossal rage, leaving the Republican race wide open.