Intrusion of Reality Ruins Perfectly Good Campaign Stop

Don’t you hate it when reality comes barging into your ideological Neverland and mucks everything up? That’s what happened to Mitt Romney last weekend. At a campaign stop in Dover, NH on Saturday, the Mittster found himself confronted by Clayton Holton, an 80-pound man stricken with muscular dystrophy who says he is “living proof medical marijuana works.” Romney wasn’t having any of it.

“I am completely against legalizing it for everyone,” Holton says, “but there is medical purposes for it.”

In an exquisite moneyshot of condescension worthy of Bill “Let’s Go to the Tape” Frist, Dr. Romney tells Holton that he should just use synthetic marijuana or some other painkiller (Oxy Contin maybe?), but Holton says he can’t, that stuff makes him sick.

While Holton starts rattling off all the prescription drugs he’s tried, you can actually see Romney clenching his jaw, rocking slightly, his lips moving as though invoking some obscure incantation to ward off this obvious Satanist sitting in front of him. He’s sensing the trap, as well as the battery of cameras forming around him, so he tries to brush the guy off. “I have muscular dystrophy,” Holton concludes.

“I’m sorry to hear that, I really am,” Romney brusquely says as he turns to walk away.

“My question for you,” says Holton, “is will you arrest me or my doctors if I get medical marijuana?”

“I am not in favor of medical marijuana being legal in the country,” Romney says. He turns to an old man sitting nearby. “Hi, how are you?”

“Excuse me, will you please answer my question?”

“I think I have. I am not in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.”

This isn’t the first time a Republican candidate has been cornered like this. In fact, Fred Thompson got the same treatment from Holton—a volunteer with Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana. Only when Fancy Fred got the question, he was at least able to respond like a human being—a slightly fogged-over human being—but nonetheless, a human being.

“Well, we’ll have to look into that,” Thompson said. “I’m not prepared to tell you ultimately. I can’t imagine what you’re having to go through and what your needs are, and I really can’t address that right now. But, I’ll be glad to sit down and talk with you sometime about it.”

My guess is Holton’s tactics will be far more effective in the general election than in the primary. The only hardcore Republicans likely to be moved by them are those who have seen, firsthand, medical marijuana alleviate the suffering of a loved one, and they’re already sold.

The rest of the base—at least, it seems, by Romney’s reckoning—will likely see a rude little prick with a ponytail and smart mouth and think: godless pinko hophead. Sure this drug may temporarily help his body, they’ll cry, falling to the floor with their Bibles and thrashing about in slicks of consecrated holy oils. But what of his soul?