There is a bizarre sort of déjà vu surrounding this presidential election campaign — and the feeling that history may be skipping the whole tragedy bit and jumping right to farce.
That, at least, was my feeling when I read the headlines over the weekend: “Ron Paul wins big in Maine and Nevada.”
Hold on just a minute. Didn’t we already do Maine and Nevada? As I recall, Nevada went to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, despite Paul’s enthusiastic support from Nevada’s booming brothel industry. A binding caucus on Feb. 4 gave Romney 50 percent of the vote, to Paul’s 18.7 percent.
But the state held its Republican convention on May 5, with radically different results: Paul won 22 of the state’s 25 delegates. Perhaps the “Prostitutes for Paul” campaign caught on after all?
In Maine, Saturday’s convention may have helped to restore the balance upset by the Feb. 11 non-binding caucus, in which Romney edged out Paul, 39.2 percent to 35.7 percent.
Support for Paul was strong in Maine, but weather and some juggling of the rules may have conspired to keep Paul from his best chance at actually winning a state.
The fiercely independent Maine Republicans ignored the caucus results at the convention, giving Paul up to 21 of the state’s 24 delegates.
Don’t start scraping the “Romney 2012” sticker off your bumper just yet, though. Paul has no chance of winning the nomination — even with his wins in Nevada and Maine, he has only 94 delegates in hand, compared to Romney’s 856.
There are, of course, those who insist that Paul could still pull it off. There are also people who are convinced the Earth is flat, but I’m not sure I would want them voting for me.
What Paul can, and, most likely will do, is keep the “presumptive nominee” off balance until the Republican National Convention in Florida this August. Paul may also have enough clout to unravel what is supposed to be a seamless show of unity in Tampa, a last chance to repair the damage from a bruising primary season.
Paul has always been an annoyance for the Republican Party — he may now, finally, be a bit dangerous — a label he has relished since the New Hampshire primary, when he told cheering supporters that “we are dangerous … to the status quo.”
So, like it or not, we’ll have a lot more nonsense until Romney is finally, irrevocably anointed the Republican nominee.
Nowhere is that more evident than in North Carolina, a so-called “battleground state” that is holding its primary today.
North Carolina’s poll is too hopelessly late to have any real effect on the Republican nomination — unless they give their 55 delegates to Ron Paul, perhaps. But the doughty Republican congressional candidates, hungry for headlines, have decided to resurrect the “birther” debate.
Not one, but three congressional hopefuls have raised the issue of Barack Obama’s birth, one going so far as to assert that the president’s Certificate of Live Birth, released in 2008, is a “poorly reproduced forgery,” although no one has offered any evidence to support such an allegation.
The candidate in question, Dr. John Whitley, was punished for his audacity in an interview on CNN’s AC360 last night; a stone-faced Anderson Cooper seemed to be barely reining in his glee as he made the stumbling politician look completely ridiculous.
I had a long conversation yesterday with a friend of mine, a lawyer from Texas. Her opinion is that much of the arguments advanced against Obama is just racism, dressed up in more politically correct terms.
In my time in South Carolina, I certainly found that to be true. At one Romney rally, a local businessman told me confidently that, although he was a staunch Southern Baptist, and not a fan of Romney’s religion, he had no doubt about his vote.
“Better a Mormon than a Muslim,” he said.
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When I asked a group of South Carolina women about that the next day, they looked at me sympathetically.
“Oh, honey,” said one. “He meant 'better a Mormon than a black man.’ Didn’t you understand that?”
Perhaps North Carolina is different — I hope so. I guess we’ll find out this evening, when the polls close.
In the meantime, I am reading up on the Mayan prediction that the Earth will end this December. According to several news sources, one in 10 people are worried about the prophecy.
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I am not worried at all — in fact, there have been times during this campaign that I’ve been positively hopeful about it. This feeling could well intensify after Nov. 6 — Election Day, in case you were wondering.
Hang in there, the end is in sight.