- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Maybe everybody should follow Michelle Obama’s example and take a vacation from politics. She’s off to Aspen to get in a little snow, seeking relief from surfing in Hawaii and the clatter and bang-bang of Campaign ‘12. The rest of us can at least fantasize of a fun weekend in Detroit.

The Republican debates, so called, have left everyone shellshocked, suffering under the constant cannonading of stink bombs, heavy artillery and watching the mortar barrage between Channel 3 and Channel 5. Mitt Romney continues his run for cover, Rick Santorum throws mangled Scripture, and Newt Gingrich, fortified by new transfusions of fools’ millions, tells the front-runner it’s time for him to think about quitting. This could have been Harold Stassen’s opportunity to indulge an urge to surge - but, alas, he’s still dead.

Barack Obama is finally getting a little good news from the polls, even if it’s likely to be temporary good news. A couple of pollsters say his positives now weigh as much as his negatives, and for the moment he doesn’t have to mess with Mr. In-Between. Besides, he’s got other worries, familiar to every father with a daughter in junior high school. As usual, it’s enough to make liberals talk like conservatives.

The president visited the Master Lock works in Milwaukee last week and was mesmerized by the sight of what he called “the really industrial-size locks.” Said the president: “I was thinking about the fact that I am the father of two girls who are soon to be in high school, and it might come in handy to have those super locks. For now, I’m just counting on the fact that when they go to school, there are men with guns with them.”

The most partisan Republican can’t blame the father of not one, but two daughters in junior high school for thinking about clinging to guns, even if they are guns in the hands of the presidential bodyguards who are trained to shoot and ask questions afterward. Master Lock may not manufacture the locks the president may have in mind, but we take his point, and offer a tea bag and a little sympathy. (Who says politics can’t be civil?)

Rick Santorum stepped up his fusillade of doctrine and barrage of religious dogma, aiming it not at Mitt Romney, but at the president. Mr. Obama’s political agenda, he said, is based on “some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.” He suggested that the president practices a different kind of Christianity. “In the Christian church, there are a lot of different stripes of Christianity. If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

This is goofy stuff indeed, and Mr. Santorum could get arguments about his concept of what it means to be a Christian from preachers and bishops alike. The Obama campaign said Mr. Santorum’s latest theological broadside was “the latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fueled by distortions, ugliness and searing pessimism and negativity.”

But look who’s talking. The president’s own should get a deep breath, too, and take the sage advice of Satchel Paige, the famous pitcher and philosopher from the previous century, who imagined it was not politics but fried food that “angries up” the blood. “Never look back,” ol’ Satch said. “Something might be gaining on you.”

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who sees frightful apparitions everywhere she looks, told the California state Democratic convention last week that House Speaker John A. Boehner and Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader, are “demons” and now she’s afraid to watch television. “I saw pictures of Boehner and Cantor on our screens. Don’t ever let me see again in life those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons.”

It could be worse than she thinks. The latest news from Chicago is that Congress appears to be descending into the outer suburbs (if not yet the inner precincts) of hell. A Chicago pastor says “satanic forces” are plotting to defeat Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in his bid for re-election to Congress from his Chicago district. His problems, with a fierce challenge in the Democratic primary, appear to be not so much ethereal as real.

The good news is that soon the primary season will be over at last, the grown-ups will take charge, and the real campaign will begin. (I think.) We’ll look back on these as innocent, harmless and golden days. Ghost stories are scary and innocent fun. But you never know.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.