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June 2, 2015

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J. Patrick Coolican:

Degradation of the Republican Party on display in Las Vegas

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Leila Navidi

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a rally at Xtreme Manufacturing in Las Vegas Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012.

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J. Patrick Coolican

It was a fitting closing chapter in the Republican presidential nominating contest, which has had all the gravitas of Mardi Gras.

Donald Trump, the nation’s charlatan-in-chief, endorsed likely nominee Mitt Romney on Thursday in his fabulously classy, super glamorous, totally loathsome building near the Las Vegas Strip.

Trump Endorses Romney for President

Ann Romney points out someone in the audience to her husband Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, after businessman Donald Trump, center, endorsed Romney's presidential bid during a news conference at the Trump International Hotel  in Las Vegas, Nevada February 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

I confess I had another engagement and missed the big event, but I did see it on TV. Trump, with the hue of a ripe pumpkin and hair like a frayed ball of string unwound around his head, said — oh, never mind what he said.

Soon Romney will receive the nod from Gordon Gekko in the captain’s dining quarters on the Queen Mary.

At a rally Wednesday night, Romney said President Barack Obama isn’t really one of us: “It is what made us who we are — these innovators, these pioneers, these builders. It’s in your DNA. We share it, whether literally or figuratively. We share this spirit. I don’t think President Barack Obama understands that. I don’t think he has the feeling of this American spirit that drives us to be successful and innovative and to create ...”

Yeah, Obama doesn’t know what it is to buy a company, load it up with debt, fire a bunch of workers, walk away richer and pay an effective federal income tax rate of 14 percent. That’s the American “spirit” right there.

Of course Obama doesn’t get this, but I wish Romney would come out and say why: As Trump informed us last year, Obama’s not a real American; he’s a foreigner. A Kenyan socialist. Or maybe an Indonesian Muslim schooled in a Madrassa.

Earlier Thursday I saw a tired and deflated Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, try his hand as the underdog. God love America, where you can be a former speaker of the House who had a gig on Fox News and made millions of dollars from large corporations — not as a lobbyist, though! — and still call yourself “anti-establishment.”

At Xtreme Manufacturing in the central valley, Gingrich said his campaign was people power vs. money power, like he’s Cesar Chavez or something. Gingrich was no more than a couple miles from the Venetian, whose owner, Sheldon Adelson, and his wife have given Gingrich at least $10 million for his sputtering campaign.

Then, during his speech, this man of the people made clear where his loyalties lie, saying he’d repeal the Dodd-Frank legislation that was intended to curb financial abuses and regulate the Wall Street mess that contributed to the current recession.

Later, at an event aimed at Hispanics at the World Market Center, Gingrich touted his achievements working with Democrats, particularly former President Bill Clinton, for whom he sounded at times almost wistful. Never mind that Gingrich presided over the House as it prepared to impeach Clinton (over what again?) or that he built his whole career on smash-mouth attack politics.

Newt Gingrich in Vegas

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks at a town hall-style meeting with business and community leaders from the Las Vegas Latino community Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

I’d be happy enough to laugh at the degradations of a once great political party, except this is no joke.

Recent court decisions have struck down laws intended to prevent unlimited political donations from wealthy interests. Already a handful of corporations and individuals have showered money on Romney and the super PAC run by his allies. I can understand their enthusiasm: They’re rich as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.

With the economy still suffering the hangover of the previous decade’s housing and Wall Street kegger, voters are understandably impatient with Obama. Throw in hundreds of millions of dollars for negative ads, and Romney looks like an even bet to be president.

Then, our long suffering oil and gas industries, Wall Street financiers, wealthy heirs and tax-dodging Fortune 500 companies will finally catch a break. Ah, the spirit of America.

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