Gettin’ pretty nasty out there in GOP land, isn’t it? (Is that “Grand Old Party” or “Grouchy Opposed Politicians”?) What many thought would be a stately Romney procession to his coronation has morphed into a very ugly street fight, and the putative frontrunner seems to have forgotten to bring his weapon.
For the celestial culprit responsible for this nasty turn, we need look no further than Mars, planet of conflict and competition, which in late January 2012 began its retrograde cycle at 23 Virgo, tinging the primary season with all the acerbity, antagonism and confrontation it can muster. It will be five months before Mars completes its backward tracings and moves ahead of this degree into virgin territory, so settle in, grab the popcorn, and watch the fun!
Making this current retrograde period particularly confrontational and potentially larger-than-life is Mars’ strategic placement atop a Grand Cross of Deep Space energies, conjunct the Black Hole at 25 Virgo, opposed another at 24 Pisces, while squared both a Quasar at 22 Gemini and a Pulsar at 24 Sagittarius. The Black Holes indicate the expenditure of enormous amounts of energy and resources, as well as rapidly shifting circumstances, sudden and unexpected jolts to the status quo, and the revision of reality in the twinkling of an eye.
You don’t need to prove that to Mitt Romney, taken abaft by the Mars retrograde opposed his 21 Pisces Sun, who in the course of a few days went from potentially winning three contests in a row (Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) to seeing Iowa wrenched from his grasp by a recount putting Rick Santorum 34 votes ahead on January 19, and a pounding 12-point loss to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina on January 21, both within days of Mars’ turnabout on January 23.
Either pattern would have been a record (something which reality-shift-prone Black Holes are often responsible for evoking): no one has ever won all three of the first contests, nor have there ever been three different winners of each. Until now. (Romney had better hope that this propensity for breaking tradition continues, because the Palmetto State has an astounding primary track record, correctly picking every GOP nominee since 1980, which, if the pattern holds, would leave the former Massachusetts governor out in the electoral cold.)
So Black Hole Mars retrograde ensures as many sudden twists and turns in competitive endeavors as a good mystery novel, while the Quasar, noted for bringing focus and attention to whatever it touches, ensures a high level of public notice, and the Pulsar, an informational anomaly, virtually guarantees the Media’s involvement. Put it all together and you’ve got a cosmic recipe for a slugfest of epic proportions, likely extending into the late spring.
Mars has chosen the combatants well. In addition to opposing Romney’s Sun, from 23 Virgo it squares Newt Gingrich’s Sun at 25 Gemini, bringing out the natural antagonism and antipathy latent in these two having their Suns in square. The retrograde station also conjoins the USA’s natal Neptune at 22 Virgo, highlighting its square to the nation’s Mars at 21 Gemini—that’s more angry, aggressive confrontation (Mars), cloaked in the guise of selfless, altruistic love of country (Neptune). But make no mistake, this is highly personal.
Romney does come astrologically unprepared for this fight; with a natal Mars in Pisces, he’s just not comfortable asserting himself, or going after his opponent in a straightforward manner (Politico’s Mike Allen recently described him as “not a natural attack dog”). It’s more his style to fall back on the ropes and let the challenger wear himself out, attacking through surrogates or by indirect means (like millions in SuperPAC ads without his name on them, a crucial element in outpacing Gingrich in Iowa, and a strategy turned on its head in South Carolina when the former Speaker’s allies pulled the same maneuver on Romney).
But in Gingrich, Romney has a brutal adversary. His Aries Mars is strong in the sign of its rulership—assertive, aggressive, disdaining to take prisoners or play by the rules, intent on crushing anything that gets in its way. This Mars will brook no opposition, admit no defeat, pressing on until victory is achieved or its owner lies broken and bleeding on the field of battle. In the face of such an onslaught, Romney’s evasive, sideways approach is futile, like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Romney’s superior organization, prior presidential campaign experience and well-heeled backers may save the day for him in the end, but it will be a battered, bruised Romney who steps over Gingrich’s corpse to claim his party’s nomination.
Gingrich’s Mars at 15 Aries exactly opposes his asteroid Washingtonia at 15 Libra, identifying the nation’s capital as the reward in this high-stakes contest. It’s appropriate, also, as the venue of Newt’s former triumph and disgrace, his masterminding of the conservative 1994 Republican Revolution which put the GOP in power in Congress for the first time in 40 years, only to be ejected as House Speaker by his own colleagues just four years later.
And we can see the wheel coming full circle here also, for it was Newt’s confrontational, no-holds-barred style of politics that opened the door to the boldfaced inter-party animosity that has so degraded our intercourse and gridlocked government in the decades since. If there is one single historic figure to blame for the present sorry state of affairs in Washington, it is Newt Gingrich, an attribution borne out by his natal Mars closely opposed the USA Saturn (its government) at 14 Libra, making Newt the agent by which so much invective has entered the body politic.
Following two debate performances in South Carolina where Gingrich successfully used his solar conjunction to the nation’s Mars to channel the right’s outrage at the “liberal media” by making moderators Juan Williams and John King the bad guys, Gingrich surged in the polls and easily vaulted over Romney in the subsequent primary, trouncing him 40%-28%.
Somehow, evangelical values voters decided they preferred the Catholic-convert, serial adulterer who dumps his wives as they become ill, to the Mormon in a stable 43-year marriage as their standard-bearer in the culture wars. They chose a former House Speaker with 20 years in Congress and extensive lobbying experience since as the man to clean up Washington, over a private sector citizen with just four years in state government. Something made them do that, and that something is the lack of authenticity and fire in the belly which they perceive in Romney, a typically squishy-valued Pisces lacking in conviction, trying to find the middle course and not offend.
By the night of the Mars station on January 23, the debate venue had shifted to Florida, and Mitt did come out swinging, or what passes for swinging in Romney-speak. The perception that Gingrich may have faltered that night is likely due to the injunction to the debate audience not to react or cheer, for Gingrich excels at whipping a crowd to frenzied righteous indignation or rabid agreement, and without them as foil his arguments can seem to fall flat.
At the next debate three days later, Romney’s newly minted aggression was visibly on display, a sign that Mars was doing its stuff, at least temporarily, and hardening the normally deferential, almost Milquetoast candidate. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” AM talk show the day after, contributor Mike Barnicle commented on the change, opining that the former Massachusetts governor was “no longer the dressing room fighter.” Headlines in papers across the country noted the aggression upgrade as well: The LA Times—“Romney Smacks Down Gingrich”; The Boston Globe—“Romney Turns More Aggressive”; The Wall Street Journal—“Gingrich Leading as Fight Intensifies”; The New York Times—“Romney Stays on Offense with Gingrich.”
Mars opposed his Sun may have energized Romney somewhat, but the overall effect of the transit is to compel attacks by others, both real and perceived. When enduring such a barrage, it seems as if the world in general is piling on, and while this may be energizing to some, it’s not likely to long enthuse a Pisces Sun, not exactly adept at forming boundaries and shrugging off the opinions of others. When Mars’ effects fade, will Romney incorporate this harder edge into his presentation, or will he shrink back into his shadow?
For it’s not just Romney’s Sun which is taking heavy hits, and it may take a tougher man than Mitt not to wilt under the onslaught. Natal Mars at 6 Pisces and natal Mercury at 13 Pisces are under the gun also, and have been since late November, when the Cain train threatened to derail the Romney express as Mars opposed itself in the weak frontrunner’s birth chart. By mid-December and Mars’ initial pass opposed Romney’s Mercury, it was Newt’s turn to pull ahead, and as the first solar opposition occurred and the station formed in late January, Romney seemingly lost his slender grasp on the inevitability that has always been his chief argument.
These aspects repeat in retrograde, with Mars opposing the Sun again just as the early February contests in Maine, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri take place. Then in early March, as Super Tuesday witnesses 11 contests nationwide, including Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts and Virginia (with 41% of the total number of Republican delegates at stake that day), Mars will re-oppose Romney’s Mercury, evoking more angry anti-Romney rhetoric and perhaps creating a need to re-evaluate the campaign’s message. As Mars continues to roll backwards in opposition to Romney’s natal Mars in mid to late March, we’ll see contests in Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois and Louisiana. Surely few presidential candidates have had such lousy celestial/electoral timing.
But Mars isn’t done then. There remains one more pass over all these points, in forward motion, and once again, the timing is poor for Romney. May 8 and the final pass on natal Mars sees primaries in Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia; the last opposition to Mercury falls in late May, just before the early June contests in California, New Jersey and New Mexico, among others. Mars’ swan song opposing Romney’s Sun doesn’t occur until June 21, by which time only Utah hasn’t voted, ironically, a Mormon stronghold which is one of few states where he can expect unalloyed support.
Throughout this period, Gingrich is comparatively unscathed by Mars’ ministrations, suffering only this initial station in square, which falls two degrees short of exact, delaying its full impact until after the retrograde period is over, and then giving just one quick pass in late June, after primary season is over. Mars’ direct station in mid April at 3 Virgo doesn’t quite reach an exact square to Gingrich’s natal Mercury at 2 Gemini, either, so it’s only two exact squares to his natal Uranus at 5 Gemini that Gingrich has to deal with, one in late March and the other in early June. This may cause a few hiccups, technical glitches for the campaign to contend with, but it’s unlikely to erode whatever support Gingrich finds.
Just how extensive that support is remains to be seen. To this point, Gingrich’s funds have been limited, and his campaign has faced bankruptcy more than once. But nothing breeds success like success, and Gingrich now has a valuable and powerful ally in Nevada casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the chief funder of the Newt-friendly SuperPAC “Winning Our Future”, so successful in its South Carolina airwaves carpet-bombing of Romney.
As for Mitt Romney, he has a long hard slog ahead, until Mars is finished toying with him. The silver lining to this very dark cloud? If he weathers the storm, Romney will emerge on the other side a harder, leaner, meaner candidate, one possibly prepared to overcome the estimated $1 billion war chest Obama brings to the general election. Now that will be battle!