A close relative called Saturday morning and wanted to talk about one thing: Newt Gingrich. She was furious that the “elite media” would so flamboyantly attempt to derail his presidential nomination bid with a tawdry and outlandish interview of a spurned ex-wife. How could they, she argued, interview a woman on national television who “only had an ax to grind.” They – the “elite media” – had no shame. Sarah Palin is right: true conservatives, like Palin, won’t stop supporting Newt just because the elite media said they should – in fact, quite the opposite. When I quietly pointed out that the story was entirely newsworthy and there was nothing necessarily wrong with it, she accused me of ulterior motives. When I pointed out “the daughters” supporting Newt were not the spurned ex-wife’s, she dismissed it as an unimportant detail. Then I read this. And then this.
I get it now: Newt Gingrich has tapped into the counter-productive victimization complex of the Republican faithful. Conservatives in South Carolina ate it up with a knife and fork.
No one likes a victim and no one likes Newt. At least, almost no one.
However, he’s a viable candidate to myriad elite-media-haters in the Republican tent around the country because he understands their pain; he understands the frustrating reality of CNN, NBC, and The New York Times.
Forget for a moment that Newt is probably a bad person and a notorious train-wreck as a professional and leader. Forget for a moment that some people in America perceive him as racist. Forget for a moment that his idea of hauling judges in front of Congress is so profoundly stupid I refuse to believe he’s serious when he repeats it. And finally, forget that Newt will never be POTUS and can only damage the Republican Party nationally. Forget all of it because he’s running for the irrational Republican victims that love his righteous indignation.
In general, Republican victims believe the elite media has an agenda that includes demeaning all Republican politicians and voters, refusing to acknowledge Democratic misdeed and mistakes, and attacking Christianity and traditional family values. Therefore, that same elite media is complicit in most of what’s wrong with American politics and society today and throughout America’s modern history. Other than, perhaps, the Holy Trinity of CNN, NBC, and The New York Times, no one is exactly sure what constitutes the elite media though. What conservative victims do know, however, is that it isn’t Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Lars Larson, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, the other not-so-subtle conservative hosts, reporters, editors, and executives at Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial pages, thousands of conservative blogs and the many highly effective, respected, and conservative policy shops that publish newsletters, Op-Eds, and hold forums and events in a city or town near you. This, of course, is not an exhaustive list – just mentioning a few. But remember, according to Newt and his victimized supporters, the elite media have the power and audacity to outmaneuver all competitors.
Of course, Newt’s strategy lacks staying power because it’s built upon irrationality and ignorance, not good governance and effective leadership. He’ll flame out (he better, or my whole argument is garbage).
Most Republicans in the United States want to nominate a candidate who is an effective leader and team builder, a competent manager and professional, with a history of success and sustained determination in his public and private life. Newt is none of those things. There is no scenario in which he and his third wife will inhabit the White House. He has, however, managed to gain the trust and support of victimized Republicans utilizing a simple axiom of retail politics: appealing to misplaced anger and fear.
[photo credit: DonkeyHotey]