Sandy Hook is the most unusual of New Jersey's many fine beaches. This is because the Staten Island skyline is a mere 20 miles away and behind it loom lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Then there is the experience of floating in the ocean on one's back beyond the breakers while taking in the Statue of Liberty and looking skyward at a Lufthansa Airbus making its approach to Newark International Airport while contemplating the vicissitudes of the worst run presidential campaign of my lifetime. Yes, even worse than Michael Dukakis in 1988.
And so on the last day of summer 2012 we repaired to Sandy Hook with the woofs -- Jack and Nicky, our brother-sister chocolate Labrador retrievers -- whom the Dear Friend & Conscience had rescued from cage-bound lives in Upstate New York last year and have slowly but surely returned to good health. As in you can practically see your reflection in their luxuriant coats.
* * * * *Jack and Nicky had never seen the ocean, let alone tested their swimmerly chops in it, but early in the month we spent a weekend some 180 miles to the south of Sandy Hook at the Delaware shore, where the beaches, if anything, are even finer than New Jersey's. This is because of the foresight of a liberal Republican governor, a now extinct species, who with the help of an environmentally conscious citizenry pressured the state General Assembly to approve a Coastal Zone Act that barred industrial development on or near the state's coastline.
This was 1970, the early days of the nascent environmental movement. The act survived challenges by Big Oil that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a then liberal and now also an extinct species. Today Delaware has pristine beaches, virtually all of them state parkland and open to the public. Four of the beaches are dog friendly year-round.
One such beach is at Cape Henlopen where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic. It was there that Jack rode his first wave.
Words do not do justice to the sight of a 100-pound Lab being picked up by a wave and propelled to shore, front legs splayed out, ears flapping in the wind and eyes bugging out of his head. Jack artfully landed on the beach, shook from head to toe, turned around and sprinted back into the surf in search of another wave.
* * * * *But I digress.
The weather at Sandy Hook and the Delaware shore was typical of that during the most magnificent summer in recent memory. Rain when it was needed but otherwise sublimely sunny days with low humidity. I was able to swim practically every morning and grew a bumper crop of peppers, among other veggies, the hotter varieties of which have gone into a big cast iron skillet every couple of weeks or so for my spicy clam sauce (email me if you'd like the recipe), which we washed down the other night with the first bottles from the annual U.S. release of Spaten Oktoberfest. I guess you might say that life is good because we're 47 Percenters.
* * * * *Life is not good for Willard Mitt Romney, and if ever a presidential wannabe is getting their just deserts, it is he.
Obama is leading in most national polls and leading by large margins in polls of registered votes. Undecideds are breaking for the Islamofascist-socialist incumbent in the wake of Romney's 47 Percent train wreck of a video, and the man who was sure to go down to defeat leads in every swing state but one, where he is tied. Support for the Republican ticket has crumbled among the 47 percenters who are the senior citizens that he GOP wants to put on a raft and send out to sea. Democrats are stomping Republicans by a 6-1 margin for early ballot requests in the GOP heartland of Iowa. Yes, Iowa. Meanwhile, my own poll of bumper stickers and yard signs from metro Philadelphia to North Jersey shows Obama winning in a landslide, while McCain stickers and signs had been ubiquitous in 2008.
Romney can't catch a break (but thanks for releasing those artificially inflated 2011 tax returns) and, of course, doesn't deserve a break when most of his wounds are self inflicted.
The turmoil among clueless campaign staffers and the GOP's circular firing squad are grabbing more headlines than what he is saying on the stump. No matter. Despite vows of a new Romney 3.0, he's peddling the same old snake oil and laying eggs as he did in an interview on 60 Minutes last night in stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that he is up against the electoral wall. Obama's unflappable cool was on display in an interview later in the program.
* * * * *
The biggest story last week beyond the 47 Percent debacle was senior GOP pundit Peggy Noonan calling for an intervention for the hapless candidate and Romney sycophant John Sununu, who looks and talks more like Dick Cheney every day, telling her to shut her yap hole. Same for Tommy Thompson, whom he compared to Obama.
Michael Gerson, who served as George W. Bush's chief speechwriter, also is in Sununu's crosshairs because he called Romney's 47 Percent remarks "stupid and callous" and "nonsense."
"Romney was appealing to a common Republican belief that the expansion of government has produced a class of citizens who live off the sweat of others, regard themselves as victims and refuse to accept responsibility," Gerson said. "Yet a Republican ideology pitting the 'makers' against the 'takers' offers nothing. No sympathy for our fellow citizens. No insight into our social challenge. No hope of change. This approach involves a relentless reductionism. Human worth is reduced to economic production. Social problems are reduced to personal vices. Politics is reduced to class warfare on behalf of the upper class."
And all the while the Wingnut Wurlitzer grinds away, vomiting up a movie the other day claiming that Obama’s real father is an obscure African-American communist, while the insufferable Anne Romney, whose biggest daily decision is which of her Cadillacs to drive, whines that her husband is misunderstood.
The next biggest story is the bevy of Republican Senate candidates -- including those in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin -- who are trying to inoculate themselves from the Romney disaster in progress. "If your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it’s going to reflect on the down ballot," acknowledged Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, who has seen his once comfortable lead disappear.
Unless Romney can begin to turn things around -- hell, anything around -- in the run-up to the first presidential debate on October 3, he is effectively toast. It will be a loss that the Tea Party will own.