Imagine, if you will, that you have been in power for many years. Maybe you've had over a decade of uninterrupted occupation of the commanding heights of the great offices of state and the influence they grant. Now imagine that you have screwed things up. I mean, it is royally fucked. You can't just let things roll on to the voting booth with everyone grimly planning to take their revenge. You've got to do something, anything, to try to stave off the apparently inevitable.
You have to do the Twist.
The Twist is an uncomfortable sort of a move, but it isn't at all complicated. You just need to try to find something that will make people talk about some new topic that isn't your own abject failures. If you're low on morals as well as imagination, you will start trying to pick on a minority. Or perhaps you will invent a foreign enemy to attack, if you're in a Imperial sort of a country. If nothing else is working you may have to just make up mad stuff about an imaginary version of your own electorate and then loudly point and shout about the mannikin you've dressed up.
Take the UK Tory party. It is so far behind in the polls, against the architype of the inanimate carbon rod model of political opponent, that even its own MPs are feeling doomed.
And this is no mere temporary blip in public opinion. The UK Tory party has, since entering government in 2010, made so many choice choices, all of them bad, that it actually is difficult to even remember them all.
Obviously, Brexit, yes. But did you remember they had a PM who only lasted a little over a month and managed to kill the Queen while in her first week in office? She then moved on to increasing everyone in Britain's mortgage rates with sheer incompetence.
But wait, they also had the PM who was a compulsive liar and killed a load of people during covid, including nearly himself, before hosting a load of Covid parties in 10 Downing Street.
But those were the good old days, so now the Tories, led by their own inanimate carbon rod, are desperately trying to do the Twist.
Whether its sending migrants to Rwanda, or making the lives of trans people harder, or even not even trying to meet climate change targets they just want something that will bring them enough heat to distract everyone from the fact that they have made everyone's lives worse and their country is crumbling.
Let's Twist again
Now imagine you are either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. You are becalmed in the polls, sitting at the lowest level of support you have ever received in some cases. What do you need to do? You need to stop people from continuing from thinking about whatever it is they're thinking about (it's housing, by the way) and think of something- anything- else.
You need to do the Twist!
For Fianna Fáil, the patronage machine, that means you need to start demanding road spending over and above the National Development Plan's budget.
For Fine Gael, that means you retreat to the basest of your base's base instincts- back to the days of "Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All".
Here's the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, expressing himself on the question of the honesty of people who are in receipt of social welfare payments.
Deputy Paul Murphy asked if I have seen "I, Daniel Blake"; I have. I saw it when I was Minister for Social Protection. It is a very good film, by the way, and I would recommend it to anyone. It is, of course, one-sided. All of the characters in the film, or at least all of the people in receipt of benefits in the film, are very genuine and honest people who need help and have done as much as they can for themselves. There are other programmes, like "Benefits Street" and so on which show a very different picture. Of course, as is always the case, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Why does the truth lie somewhere in between? Because, of course, everyone knows that is how you get to claim to stand in the centre. As a statement, it contains more multitudes than a Walt Whitman impersonator convention. But as a desperate effort to justify talking about (statistically negligible) dishonesty of people receving 'benefits', it is a Twist that Rishi Sunak would be proud of.
Take me by your little hand, and go like this
Of course, the biggest Twisters of the week were the US Republicans who responded to Donald Trump being found guilty of fraud by launching an impeachment investigation of President Joe Biden while simultaneously searching for a grounds to justify an impeachment.
At one stage they were left pleading with their own witness as to whether their rags, bones and hanks of hair which they'd thrown in front of him could be assembled into evidence of impeachable crimes.
Mr. Johnathan Turley, their star witness, said that, actually he thought the details they'd assembled “really do gravitate in favour of the president.”
He helpfully followed this up;
“I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment"
Sometimes, the problem with doing the Twist is that you can end up back where you started.