The sound of calliope music receding in the distance can only mean that the Republican primary season is nearly over. It was never less than entertaining, even if it often made you want to shower with Lysol and shave off all your hair. I may never be able to forget Moon Newt and his consort, Callista Queen of Space, with her amazing gold hair-helmet. I've tried. And speaking of colorful spouses, didn't we enjoy getting to know Marcus Bachmann, who seems to be a few revival meetings short of praying away the gay? (Sunglasses for a dog, Marcus? Really?) D'ye ken Jon Huntsman with his hounds and his horn in the morning? Was he real or was he a dream? For that matter, who was the squashy-faced character in the muskrat cap who attended the early debates? Donald Something? Forced to campaign under the influence of painkillers, Rick Perry never had a chance. (Painkillers can make you foggy; fundamentalism and the Texas public schools will apparently make you dumb.) For comic relief we had Herman "Hold the Sausage" Cain and Sarah Palin's Magical History Tour. (Didja know the Pilgrims came here 'cause the king o' England wanted to take away their guns? You betcha!) And the paranoid will get another chance to support Ron Paul when the Libertarians choose their candidate, while the nostalgic await the next issue of his newsletter, Der Neue Sturmer.
The base sniffed and pawed and shoved each one aside, eventually settling on Willard Mitt Romney since, being the least lifelike, he's also the hardest to imagine biting the heads off chickens. The Mad Tea Party mistrust the Rombot, who they suspect is only pretending to be a right-wing nut -- a sort of unfunny Stephen Colbert. They think he's laughing at them from behind his Harvard diploma and his vast wealth. They may be right. Sometimes resentment can be the road to insight.
And there is one other. I will state here that I believe Rick Santorum was never serious about running for President of the United States. Any child knows you can't become president by trashing mainstream Protestantism. That was the first hint that he was playing to quite a different audience. I believe he wants to be pope.
Did you catch any of the Easter show from St. Peter's? Ratzinger's goose-stepping days are long over; he has to be pushed around on a big papal SegWay. Before long Catholics will be saying hello to the new boss, same as the old boss. Why not an American? Sure, he's married -- very married -- but Santorum wouldn't be much of a Catholic if he couldn't get an annulment. (The church doesn't allow divorce, but it is sometimes willing to stipulate that your marriage didn't really exist. It's for those who want to dump the spouse but continue to enjoy the smells and bells.) Annulment was once reserved mostly for royalty, and it's still not for every Joe Rosary, but if your name is Kennedy or Giuliani, the machinery can work for you. Like the Titanic, the Catholic Church has first class, second class and steerage. If your cabin is on the Promenade Deck, you can live openly with another woman's husband and still rate a funeral like Jackie O's. If, on the other hand, you think running a food pantry is more important than denouncing the evils of contraception, there may not be a seat for you in a lifeboat.
That was the gist of Ratzinger's April 20 message to American nuns, who are stuck in the era (1958-1978) when the Church tried to be of use to humanity. A lot of the sisters, poor silly females, are under the impression that when Jesus got up on the hill and told people to feed the hungry, nurse the sick, visit prisoners -- all those wimpy liberal prescriptions that no real Christian wants to carve on the wall of an Alabama courthouse -- what he really meant was "Call in bomb threats and hurl pickled fetuses at women's clinics." New Testament Greek is tricky: only certain men are qualified to translate. As punishment, they must now disband their Leadership Conference of Women Religious and submit to the Y-chromosome authority of Archbishop Sartain of Seattle. Those of strong stomach who pay sustained attention to such things say there is a financial dimension to all this. The church has been leaking money due to its self-created legal problems, and this pope may have been attracted by the sisters' assets as one of his predecessors lusted after the wealth of the Knights Templars. You may very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.
Back to the future. If you think a failed Pennsylvania politician has no shot at the big chair just because of the wife and eight kids -- more than the average Renaissance pope would have acknowledged, sure -- you obviously don't know how all-inclusive this Church is. Ratzinger has welcomed back the Holocaust-denying priest Richard Williamson and the Society of St. Pius X, which continues to circulate the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He has admitted married men to the priesthood, provided they were ordained by the Church of England and then left in righteous revulsion when it began to ordain women. My spidy-sense tells me that the timing of the nun-slapping was not coincidental: April 20 was a national holiday when Ratzinger was growing up in Germany I can imagine him casting about for something festive to mark the day. We tend to internalize these calendar events. I myself get the urge to buy a notebook right after Labor Day. A notebook was a device we used in school during the last century; they probably don't even exist any more.
Sorry, I drifted into the past, not unlike Catholicism. Soon-to-be-saint Wojtyla and the former Hitlerjugend
have marched their vast enterprise relentlessly backward toward authoritarianism and worse, and who better to carry it on than America's Savonarola, Pope Rick? Yes, he's a long shot. So was I'll Have Another. Remember, you read it here.