Don Juan, or Son of the South

Mitt Romney didn’t actually do all that poorly in yesterday’s Republican contests.  True, he came in third in both Alabama and Mississippi, and, true, it would have been better for him had Gingrich beaten Santorum, who is his more serious challenger.

But he came in a strong third, stronger in the Deep South than most were predicting even a few weeks ago.  The results in the South were disappointing, really, only because, in the past week or two and against all prior expectations, there seemed a possibility that he might actually win either Mississippi or Alabama or both.

As it is, though, he got nearly a third of the popular vote and will receive almost a third of the delegates from the two states.  Which means that, coupled with his victories in Hawaii and American Samoa many hours later (when most Americans were sound asleep), Governor Romney actually won more delegates yesterday than any of his Republican rivals did.  In other words, he extended his delegate lead yet further.  Hardly a major defeat.

Plainly, however, Mitt Romney still has a problem with Evangelicals.  I’ve discussed this in several earlier posts on this blog (e.g., here and here and here and here), and Michael Bush (Alabama born and bred) has an excellent piece on it here.

I was, candidly, anticipating that it was Newt Gingrich — a Georgian — who would take Mississippi and/or Alabama.  (So was he.)  Which put me in mind of Leporello’s famous “Catalog Aria” (“Mille e tre,” or “A Thousand and Three”) from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni.  (More on this anon.)

Mr. Gingrich didn’t win in either of those Southern primaries, but he did still come in second in both, narrowly ahead of Gov. Romney.

So why waste an opportunity to bring in a little high culture?  I’m not, to put it mildly, a fan of Mr. Gingrich — this article in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News discusses one of the least of my very many reservations about him — and I’m appalled to see that Evangelicals seem, once again, to have felt more solidarity with the “faith and values” of a serial adulterer than with those of a Mormon. 

Enter therefore Leporello, Don Giovanni’s sarcastic servant:

Madamina, il catalogo è questo
Delle belle che amò il padron mio;
un catalogo egli è che ho fatt’io;
Osservate, leggete con me.
In Italia seicento e quaranta;
In Almagna duecento e trentuna;
Cento in Francia, in Turchia novantuna;
Ma in Ispagna son già mille e tre.
V’han fra queste contadine,
Cameriere, cittadine,
V’han contesse, baronesse,
Marchesine, principesse.
E v’han donne d’ogni grado,
D’ogni forma, d’ogni età.
Nella bionda egli ha l’usanza
Di lodar la gentilezza,
Nella bruna la costanza,
Nella bianca la dolcezza.
Vuol d’inverno la grassotta,
Vuol d’estate la magrotta;
È la grande maestosa,
La piccina e ognor vezzosa.
Delle vecchie fa conquista
Pel piacer di porle in lista;
Sua passion predominante
È la giovin principiante.
Non si picca – se sia ricca,
Se sia brutta, se sia bella;
Purché porti la gonnella,
Voi sapete quel che fa.

My dear lady, this is a list
Of the beauties my master has loved,
A list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.
In Italy, six hundred and forty;
In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
A hundred in France; in Turkey, ninety-one;
In Spain already one thousand and three.
Among these are peasant girls,
Maidservants, city girls,
Countesses, baronesses,
Marchionesses, princesses,
Women of every rank,
Every shape, every age.
With blondes it is his habit
To praise their kindness;
In brunettes, their faithfulness;
In the very blond, their sweetness.
In winter he likes fat ones.
In summer he likes thin ones.
He calls the tall ones majestic.
The little ones are always charming.
He seduces the old ones
For the pleasure of adding to the list.
His greatest favourite
Is the young beginner.
It doesn’t matter if she’s rich,
Ugly or beautiful;
If she wears a petticoat,
You know what he does. 

Finally, irrelevantly but amusingly, an anecdote told to me by a colleague at another university:

My colleague was doing some research on the Don Juan/Don Giovanni character in literature, but was having a difficult time finding something that he sought.  So he went to his library’s reference desk.  The librarian was polite but rather condescending:  When you’re doing library searches, she patiently explained, you should always use the person’s full name — not Don, in other words, but Donald Giovanni or Donald Juan.

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