I sat on my exercise bike with the remote last night, flipping between the umpteenth GOP presidential debate and the Boston Celtics game. The Celtics started miserably — down 27 at one point in the first half. But they still won the night.
Why does Newt Gingrich remind me of one of those oversized balloons in the New York Macy’s Day parade, sort of a mean Pillsbury Doughboy? Why does Mitt Romney’s smile look so forced (and what does he put on his hair)? And how come Rick Santorum always looks like a proud Boy Scout, taking the Pledge of Allegiance in front of mom and dad (…gosh, maybe he is)?
As effete a 1 percenter as the Mittster is, I was sort of rooting for him. It’s not merely that Mitt is my state’s former governor. The man also appears to be reasonably well-balanced, a heartening, if unusual, sign in GOP politics today.
And Romney didn’t disappoint, Salon reports, poking holes in the airbag — make that Gingrich — when the former speaker tried to duck a question about a criticism he’d leveled at the governor by instead belittling moderator Wolf Blitzer for daring to ask him about it. (Gingrich had attacked Romney “for living in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts.”)
Romney ignored the charge but nobly rallied to the moderator’s defense: “Wouldn’t it be nice,” he asked, “if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?” It was a winning moment in a losing evening.
Romney, by all accounts, won the debate handily though the Boy Scout got high marks and the old codger, Ron Paul, got the best laugh lines (he made me smile when he jokingly suggested to Blitzer that too many questions about his health records could be viewed as age discrimination.)
Soon after, I made my final switch to the Celtics, a good call. First of all, these Republican candidates all seem to live in the ’50s, and I’m a much more modern guy (let’s see, that would be the ’60s, right?) Secondly, the Celtics are finally showing signs of life.
They started a second game this week against the Orlando Magic without their stellar point guard, Rajon Rondo, or their shooting guard, Ray Allen. Last night, their starting center, Jermaine O’Neal, also was out with an injury, too. Yet somehow, they prevailed against one of the better teams in the league, this time riding the hot hand of rookie guard E’Twuan Moore and another fabulous defensive effort that held Orlando to 26 second-half points total.
Ten days ago, I was ready to write the Celtics season off. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe, just maybe, they can make another run for the crown.
Since Newt already has twice risen from the dead, his fans are probably holding out fleeting hope, too. But I’d say he’s less likely to win the presidency than the Celtics are to win the NBA title. And both are considerable longshots.
Maybe we’re just meant to sit back and enjoy the show.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post identified the Celtic center as Jermaine O’Neill. His name is O’Neal. I apologize for the error.