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Steven Van Zandt Headshot

It's the Performance, Stupid!

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Like most people out of work, I've been tuning in and out of the traveling comedy show called the Republican Primaries alternately amused, astounded, and appalled, like everybody else.

I finally watched the last three debates (numbers 104, 105, 106) from beginning to end and I have to say, I don't get it.

Virtually every pundit, every political operative, every journalist, left and right, all year, have agreed that Romney is the far more electable candidate.

South Carolina's already being dismissed as an impossible nightmare not in the script (did that casino guy get to John King?), because everybody knows the only guy who can beat Obama is Romney. That's who the Party Bosses have chosen, it's his turn, he's got the money, and that's that.

Excuse me, but I don't know who the hell they're talking about! This Romney character I'm seeing is the single most uncomfortable, unnatural, unelectable, phoniest, silliest, most unprepared candidate I've seen since, I don't know, Al Gore? Dan Quayle maybe?

I mean he could play the lead guy's role in Book Of Mormon on Broadway without a rehearsal.

THIS is the inevitable candidate?!?

First of all, I watch the pundits all day and I enjoy their wit and wisdom, their experience, their opinions. But surely, deep down, they must know that their constant discussions about the nuances of the issues is nothing more than an engaging way of filling up their obligatory hour?

I mean they don't really think it's the issues that decide whether someone gets elected in America or not, do they? Apart from Ron Paul's one single issue regarding the extremely impactful and not the least bit understood or discussed value of the dollar, which actually is important, there's not a politician of either stripe that has a clue about what a real issue is in this country. There's not an imagination or real vision in sight. And that includes our current president who should be arrested for his slanderous use of the word "transformation."

Forget all that nonsense you might have learned in the Political Science course you're probably still paying for. The person who wins the presidency in this country is one thing and one thing only: The Best Performer!

Politics is showbiz baby. Obviously. Just like the justice system. How could everybody have missed this?

Now, sure, these guys aren't in the same league as the best of the best, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt (audio only), John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and the Ultimate Manipulator, the King of Them All -- after all it was his previous profession -- Ronald Reagan! But of course it's all relative.

Newt Gingrich is so obviously the best performer of this historically wacky bunch, that I just don't get it. Maybe South Carolina will finally convince the deaf, dumb, and blind, but he's in a league of his own.

In fact it has to be the Democrats putting out the word that Romney is who they're most afraid of.

What a joke!

The Bosses think Newt has baggage? Not that it matters, but Bain is just the beginning. And wait 'till they get a load of the tax rate he paid. So far everybody's been too civilized to discuss Mexico, but it's coming. Does everybody think the Evangelicals actually understand the Mormon religion? Or that they're never going to find out? We can pretend we're above such prejudices, as we should be.

But we're not.

We've had how many Presidents that weren't some form of Protestant? Like... one? And he was a Catholic! Which is same damn thing with a few Saints and a bit more guilt!

And the Mob had to buy HIM into office!

But baggage doesn't matter.

Forget about Freddie Mac, the affairs, the congressional sanction, the Tiffany charge account, the Greek cruises, the hypocrisy with Clinton, etc., etc., etc. That's all yesterday's papers.

Newt is a Star. He's a Performer.

And in case you haven't noticed, Mitt ain't.

The role calls for the one thing Mitt will never be able to communicate-BE PISSED OFF!

Even Chris Christie, a performer destined for future greatness, can't help.

Newt can sell it.

So let's get on with the Gingrich/Santorum ticket and spare me the horror of even having to think about listening to Romney's used car salesman's sincerity for the rest of the year. Let's at least make it interesting.

It won't matter anyway. Obama's graduated to another level. He's literally singing and dancing.

They can't touch him. He's the best performer of them all.

Steven Van Zandt is an Actor, (Sopranos), and Musician (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band). His latest project is "Lilyhammer," the first original programming from Netflix, debuting February 6, for which he is the Star, Co-Writer, and Executive Producer.

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