It looks as if President Obama will face either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in 2012. If I were Barack Obama I would be mortally insulted. It is humiliating to have such unworthy opponents. But – here’s the rub – he could lose!
In Jamaica we would call Mitt and Newt ginnals. Americans know their kind as “con artists.”
And there’s a perverse appeal in a clever con artist.
Take Brer Anancy, the beloved Jamaican (and West African) folk hero (depicted above in an Oregon Shadow Theatre presentation).
He originated with the Ashantis of Ghana, where his name is spelled with an “s” – Anansi.
According to Wkipedia:
Anansi ( /əˈnɑːnsi/ ə-nahn-see) the trickster is a spider, and is one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore.
He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the Southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy. He is a spider, but often acts and appears as a man. The story of Anansi is akin to the tricksters Coyote, Raven or Iktomi found in many Native American cultures.
The Anansi tales are believed to have originated in the Ashanti people in Ghana. (The word Anansi is Akan and means, simply, spider.) They later spread to other Akan groups and then to the West Indies, Suriname, and the Netherlands Antilles. On Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire he is known as Nanzi, and his wife as Shi Maria.
Romney is not as adroit as Brer Anancy. He is best described as smarmy. You know what I mean: He would say anything to seduce us.
But Newt is the genuine article – a trickster and a consummate hypocrite, the kind of sam-fi artist who will hug you with one arm, while picking your pocket with the other.
I am sure I don’t have to tell you about Newt.You must have read or heard about his salty life – his affairs, his financial skulduggery, his brazen, in-your-face hypocrisy… The man actually had the face of brass to seek Bill Clinton’s impeachment for the Monica Lewinsky affair while carrying on an affair with an intern himself.
In a truly Machiavellian maneuver, he has confessed his sins and sought forgiveness. He is a born-again Roman Catholic and I’m sure he goes to Mass regularly. After all, the religious vote is essential, especially if you’re a Republican.
If there’s one thing devout voters love it’s a penitent seeking their forgiveness. (Consider the parade of televangelists who sinned and were welcomed back into the fold.)
My guess is that Republicans will choose Newt as their standard bearer – despite the avalanche of negative publicity that’s sure to follow him. The bad publicity might even evoke sympathy for the guy.
But American voters beware! Newt is no lovable trickster. He is closer to Richard the Third than to Brer Anancy. There is no redeeming content in the man.
Like Romney, he represents the vultures who feed on society’s corruption.
Both are rolling in ill-gotten wealth, Romney through taking over companies and “downsizing” them and Newt through “lobbying” and various exploitative publishing ventures.
There’s nothing beguiling about either of them.