Maybe it’s because of the holidays, but we’re learning to stop worrying and love Newtmentum.
Amazingly, the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich looks like the front-runner in the Republican Presidential race. This delights rightbloggers who enjoy Gingrich’s cantankerous style. But it’s not a unanimous verdict: A few of the brethren fret that the polarizing former Speaker isn’t what the GOP needs to knock off a sitting president, and are trying to derail his campaign.
This is double fun for us rightblogger watchers; we not only get to hear them squabble amongst themselves, we also get to hear from people for whom Newt Gingrich is actually not conservative enough.Some of the anti-Newtonians point out that he and Nancy Pelosi were not constantly at each other’s throats, which proves they’re in collusion to foist Big Gummint on the people. “I remember watching Newt getting all snuggly with Pelosi on the sofa and thinking: What a sleezebag, how could he??” cried Sara for America. Well, at least he didn’t leave one of his wives for her.
That Gingrich once supported environmental reforms and an individual mandate on health care (sort of) so enraged Bungalow Bill’s Conservative Wisdom that he turned on Sean Hannity:
“Sean clearly shows he is part of the Republican establishment ignoring the obvious flaws in Newt’s candidacy and the fact Newt clearly supports the major progressive ideas in Washington,” said BBCW, “and his longtime friendship with Newt — who is clearly a progressive and not a conservative — prevents him from exposing his friend as the conservative fraud Newt really is. This is one of the reasons I can’t stomach Hannity anymore.”
Others took a kinder, more-in-sorrow-than-anger approach. “Newt’s a prophet,” Hugh Hewitt claimed, “but what happens to prophets in elections? Ask William Jennings Bryan. Which is why Romney will be the nominee if the GOP wants to win.” More mainstream conservatives like George F. Will and Ross Douthat reacted similarly.
Perhaps feeling the heat, Gingrich’s supporters doubled down. “Newt is has what it takes to surround himself with great people,” said Jim Campbell of Dancing Czars, “and begin removing the tyranny that has been opposed upon us since that fate full day on January 20, 2009.”
Later Campbell scoffed at people who said Gingrich had muscled his wife to agree to a divorce while she was in the hospital with cancer: “A lipoma is a benign,” he explained, “not malignant.” As to the “false statement of Newt trading in wives like trading in used cars,” Campbell pointed out that Gingrich stayed married to his second wife for 19 years, and “19 years sounds more like Obama’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program than trading her in for a new model.”
We expect this argument was formulated to convince women voters, as was that of barleycorn of RedState, who said in his essay “Hitting the G Spot or; Gingrich & the Gender Gap ©” that “those women looking for a mild mannered, smooth talking, warm and fuzzy JFK clone won’t find him in Newt Gingrich. He is kind of odd looking and way too smart for his own good, and he says rude things sometimes.” (barleycorn knows how to talk to the ladies.) “He almost certainly will receive far more votes from rough loutish men in Amarillo,” continued barleycorn, “then he will get from Right Thinking © feminists in Manhattan…” Yeah, but on the other hand, a Gingrich candidacy would solve the major problem of how to get Texans to vote Republican.
When Glenn Beck turned on Gingrich, suggesting he’s a “big-government progressive,” Bryan Preston of the PJ Tatler responded, “He isn’t even a ‘big government progressive.’ Gingrich is a big government conservative, and the difference between the two is significant.” Preston lays out some of the alleged distinctions — e.g., “a big government conservative is less hostile to business, and more hostile and skeptical of unchecked bureaucracy” — but we suspect what he really means is that a big government conservative is still, at the end of the day, a Republican, and that’s what counts.
Plus, Gingrich is so wonderfully “political incorrect” (i.e., an asshole) — last week, for example, he claimed that the Palestinians are an “invented” people, like Faulkner’s Snopeses or the Whos in Whoville.
This doesn’t seem to be a play to the broader electorate — Americans are okay with a Palestinian state — as, for that matter, is Gingrich, as he reaffirmed after making his comments. But courting outrage is its own reward, as the heavy coverage his remarks got in the press and the Newtonian rightbloggers’ reactions showed.
Daniel Horowitz of RedState announced that “the Palestinians are the global warming climate change of geopolitical conflict. They use deceptive parlance to advance their agenda,” and called rather creepily for the next president to “deracinate the entire myth of a ‘Palestinian people’.”
Stogie of Saber Point announced that he was now a Gingrich supporter, as he too believed that “the ‘Palestinians’ have only one goal, and that is the destruction of the State of Israel and the removal of all Jews from the area (preferably through mass murder). Any negotiations with these vermin will produce nothing of value. ”
The Right Scoop wrote, “Newt in 2006 backs up claim that Palestinians are invented,” showed a video of Gingrich in which he delivered some fairly standard pro-Israel/anti-Palestinian boilerplate, and reproduced the video’s description: “Gingrich responds that the entire region was once part of the Ottoman Empire, and neither state existed, that Israelis have lived in the region for over 3000 years.”
We’re not sure how much Gingrich would appreciate that support, nor that of Donald Douglas of American Power who, when Doug Mataconis gently disputed some but not all of Gingrich’s points (“as a historical matter, of course, this is largely accurate, but it also happens to be largely irrelevant”), called Mataconis a “Jew-bashing weasel” and thereafter referred to him as “Doug ‘Weasel’ Mataconis” as he counter-argued that “there is no ‘Palestinian people,’ and even if we concede there is one, the existence of a Palestinian nation serves only the purpose of delegitimation of Israel.” (Later, Douglas said that Mataconis “couldn’t argue his way out of a paper bag.”)
Debbie Schlussel also ripped into so-called conservatives who didn’t support Gingrich’s contention that Palestinians — ‘scuse us, “Palestinians” — don’t exist. “It was revealing that both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum took issue with [Gingrich’s] comments,” she wrote. “It shows that they are either completely ignorant or total cowards. And that Gingrich is not. And I can say the same for the fraud, Liz Cheney…”
But even Schlussel wasn’t completely convinced, because “Gingrich maintains his tight friendship with the largest force for Muslims in the Republican Party, Grover Norquist, who supports and took a ton of money from jihadists and front-groups for HAMAS and Al-Qaeda.” (Well, at least she didn’t mention that Norquist has an Muslim wife.) And because Gingrich won’t “sever ties” with Norquist, “his talk on the Palestinians is just like all talk: cheap.” She said Romney was no good, either. Expect Schlussel to endorse Bibi Netanyahu for President before the Iowa caucuses.
William Jacobson admitted that “there is an inexorable march towards Palestinians having a state in some portion of that former Egyptian and Jordanian territory, the questions being boundaries and militarization,” but nonetheless applauded Gingrich for attacking “the false Palestinian narrative of perpetual victimization” and “refusing to be timid in the politically correct propaganda war being waged against us” — “us” meaning America, presumably. In other words, it doesn’t matter what practical effect Gingrich’s words had; the important thing was that they were belligerent, because that’s what people want in a President.
We’re apparently not the only ones enjoying all this: The Democratic National Committee put out a mischievous ad referring to Gingrich as “the original Tea Partier.”
It’s a canny approach. The Tea Party’s popularity among ordinary Americans has plummeted. Gingrich’s appeal among the Tea People is strong, so the DNC may be expecting their ad to get those people to support him even more vocally, and thus tie their declining fortunes to his.
If that’s the plan, mission accomplished! ” As if that’s a bad thing,” said Freedom’s Lighthouse. “Because government restraint is a bad thing(?)” asked Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit. “While Democrats may think all these quotes are harmful to Newt, I think they will help him get the nomination and defeat Obama,” said Prairie Pundit.
Mark America wasn’t worried. “This ad, rather than hurting Gingrich, may actually help him among independents and Tea Party folk,” he said, “as well as conservatives who worry that the former speaker is too progressive for their tastes… How long do you suppose it will be before the DNC announces they meant to do this, since, they will tell us, they’d rather face Gingrich in 2012?” Oh, Mark, we don’t think they’ll ever tell you.
Desperate, some of the anti-Newtonians have begun to push for another candidate to take over the Republican top spot. As most of the others have had their chance, some think it’s time for Huntsmania. But there are even funnier alternatives.
“If Newt trips as anti-Romney, Paul could steal Iowa,” headlined Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner.
Carney asserted that Gingrich’s Iowa support is “fairly broad… but notably shallow,” and provided in evidence the example of one Newton, IA retiree who had wisely “hid her driver’s license and credit card from my view as she bought a cup of coffee at Uncle Nancy’s Cafe.” She was only considering Gingrich because “he can beat Romney,” whom she disdained because he is a Mormon, Carney claimed; later Carney said this woman, unaccountably warming to him, “begged me for my assessment of Santorum’s chances, ‘can this guy win?'”
No, but Carney’s got an anti-Newt who can: Ron Paul! At Paul’s events, followers give “loud ovations for his dovish foreign-policy declarations and his arcane monetary-policy prescriptions,” said Carney. This enthusiasm suggested to Carney that “if Gingrich-leaners’ turnout is low [in Iowa], this could trigger a chain reaction within any number [of] caucus rooms… Don’t be surprised, when the dust clears, if Ron Paul is the one standing tallest.”
Though Obama may be praying that Gingrich gets the nomination, he probably doesn’t dare hope that Santa loves him enough to give him Ron Paul as an opponent. But this is a season of miracles.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 12, 2011