I once sat next to a woman on a plane who told me she had a neurotic fear of Robin Williams. Lurid images of his face materialized in her mind when she tried to go to sleep at night, she told me, visibly shuddering as she described it. Poor woman, I thought. She’s obviously on the verge of some kind of breakdown. Little did I know I would soon fall prey to a similar neurosis, except the object of my revulsion isn’t Robin Williams, but Newt Gingrich.
Everything about the man fills me with neuralgic horror. If he comes on TV when my nephew and niece are in the room I instinctively shield them. He reminds me of the pushy, aggressive, stinky fat kid who sucked up to the teachers but made faces behind their backs in an effort to win friends; the first one to misbehave but the first one to go tattle on someone else; or the precociously horny perverted kid who rummaged through his own mother’s panty drawer and got caught masturbating in the bathroom in fourth grade. Now he’s like the guy whose eyes dart around your living room when he’s standing at your front door talking to you, and he leaves a slimy film on your hand after he shakes it.
He sits just a little too close to your eleven year old daughter, talks to her just a little too much, and looks at her just a little too long than is proper. He’s the kind of sleaze who would not only molest a girl scout, but steal her cookies too. Why is it so easy to imagine him in an oversized army surplus jacket lurking near a playground, jerking and twitching in the bushes, a dog-eared copy of The Third Wave falling out of his pocket? “Psst, little girl, come sit on Uncle Newty’s lap and he’ll tell you why women can’t live in foxholes.” He just seems to be, I think, what the pre-Clarence Thomas Supreme Court would have called prurient.
Just when I’m about to admit I have a problem, head down to mental health and beg for zoloft or prozac or valium, I tell myself no, it’s okay. I’m not crazy, American political culture is crazy. To prove it, I do a simple web search for some of Newt’s greatest hits, and it quickly yields the following:
If combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days because they get infections and they don’t have upper body strength. I mean, some do, but they’re relatively rare. On the other hand, men are basically little piglets, you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it, doesn’t matter, you know. These things are very real. On the other hand, if combat means being on an Aegis-class cruiser managing the computer controls for twelve ships and their rockets, a female may be again dramatically better than a male who gets very, very frustrated sitting in a chair all the time because males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.
Men are basically little piglets, you drop them in a ditch, they roll around in it, doesn’t matter …
I rest my case.
Then I feel better, and I no longer worry about Newt’s efforts to become the Republican leader again. Any party that nominates that viscous worm to be their chief can’t possibly succeed, right?
Then I think about Mussolini, and Hitler, and Karl Rove, and all the other ugly little men who fomented even uglier coups and I’m back to square one. It is precisely these kinds of toad-like imps that are forever angling and scheming and plotting to gain power and upset the peace of the world. That’s why he bothers me so much. It’s enough to make we watch re-runs of Mork and Mindy in an effort to replace his face with the goofy but harmless image of Robin Williams in my mind.