Man, this is turning into a really fun election year. First, we all pretty much figured this would be a race to see how quickly we would coronate Mitt Romney as the GOP Presidential candidate. Romney did after all have the steadiest support of all the candidates – nine at one time.
Then, you started to see some interesting rumblings within the party. You started to see the third tier candidates get some love – first Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, then Newt, then Santorum. The GOP was like kids in a candy store that mostly sold white chocolate – Romney – but the GOP customers desperately wanted to have a taste for the other flavors stocked in the store. But, thing is, the store only markets one flavor, it only makes its money from one product, and that flavor is Mitt Chocolate. So they’re not too keen on having too many customers choosing one of the other flavors, because the mark-up isn’t nearly as profitable. Well, it turns out, most of the other candies in the store were bitter-sweets, tasted good at first, but left a bad after-taste in the mouth. But, it turns out, one of the candies had a tootsie-roll center, and once you got to it… Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
Introducing Newt – Chocolate! It’s actually more of a giant gob-stopper than regular chocolate, with multiple layer, made of stuff you probably don’t want to know! It’s not really very sweet. Some of the flavor layers are so tart, you find you want to spit it out… In fact that was done once already! But there is something about this candy… It’s just so BOLD… And a heck of a lot more interesting than Mitt-Chocolate!
OK, enough of that.
I’ve been reading a lot about the GOP race this week-end, and had a few thoughts about the recent turn of events, and exactly why Newt has made the comeback, and just how he appeals to elements within the GOP. Granted, he’s not going to curry much favor with the evangelical set, but they already had their candidate, George W Bush, and we saw how that turned out; so they will just have to suck it up for a few election cycles. Newt trying to paint himself as an outsider is just about the most ridiculous strategy out there, maybe with the exception of Santorum trying to brand himself as “The” Tea Party candidate.
That said, Newt brings something to the table that no one else can… Well, almost no one else, but we’ll get to that exception in a moment.
** Note – My filter is off, and I’m going to make a few hints and allusions to things some readers might find offensive. I thought about editing it out after I was done typing this post, but… What The Hell! It’s My Blog! **
Point # 1 – For all his flaws, Newt is a well known public figure. He speaks a lot, A LOT!, and doesn’t have much of a PC filter to speak of (which may not be a bad thing). He’ll say what he wants, reflect on things at length, and if he’s contradicted himself from something he’s said even a few minutes earlier… Well… That’s Newt! It’s kind of like multiple marriages to this crowd… This time, I’m serious! OK, that was kind of mean, but it’s relevant.
Point # 2 – Newt is loud, bombastic, which in the minds of many, means he really really believes what he’s saying! Hey, it works with the talk radio set, so why shouldn’t it work in a campaign!. Newt maybe has figured out the old meme that no publicity is bad publicity! Romney, on the other hand, seem just too damned meek and polite and couldn’t assert himself if he tried. Which brings us to:
Point # 3 – Unlike any other candidate I’ve seen in a long time, Newt has figured out how to deflect an answer and gin up the base at the same time – Shoot the messenger! Even as Newt was floundering, he had already laid down the roots of his comeback with the use of a time worn Conservative strategy – blame the Main Stream Media! Though the other guys wanted to, only Newt had “the guts” to actually come right out, right there on the debate floor, and chastise one of the debate moderators for asking a question! Now, I don’t remember exactly what the question was, and I don’t think it was anything that was particularly out of line, but it doesn’t matter what the question was anyway. It could be somethnig like this:
George Stepha-what’s-his-face: “Let me start by asking you a personal question. Newt, we’ve heard recently that you’re allergic to cats…”
Newt: “Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is, that is just an outlandish question to ask, many folks are allergic to cats!!!!”
Nobody remembers the question. All they remember is the “Oh Right On” and “Yeah Baby!” moment it produced. It’s an opiate for the “True Conservative” set – addictive even! The beauty of it is, Newt is probably the only one on stage who can pull it of, almost as if it were a “gift from GOD!“.
Why will Newt be the likely winner of the GOP nomination? Because he’s a perfect stand-in for one of the most popular Conservatives out there. Newt can “articulate the message of Conservatism” like almost no other… Almost no other, except one…
Newt has indeed become the proxy candidate for Rush Limbaugh. That is the true power source of the Newt Gingrich appeal. He has with the last couple of debates finally accomplished the task of tapping into the psyche of Rush’s audience. Romney doesn’t have a chance in hell of appealing to Rush’s audience. He’s a “squish”! As much as Santorum’s social views might line up with those of Mr. Limbaugh, he just doesn’t have that rhetorical fire on a wide variety of issues and interests that both Rush and Newt share. I know his detractors will take issue with this next statement, but Rush Limbaugh is a very smart guy! Not smart as in scientific smart, but he does have knowledge on a wide variety of subjects.
Newt and Rush are so much alike, and have been for a long time. Newt, like Rush. is a risk-taker, and more often than not, it pays off. Rush was kicked around by the radio establishment because they thought his idea of doing a “gasp” Conservative radio call-in show was nuts. Yet, here he is, years later, the King of not only a successful-beyond-anyone’s-dreams radio program, but he literally saved the AM radio format from extinction in the process, and created a new road for success for other to follow. Newt got kicked around by the establishment and was even eventually in the late 90’s driven from power by them. Yet, here he is, a creature of the system, running a campaign counter to how the establishment says it must be done, defying them to the end, and succeeding! The message, he has realized in the internet age, is more important than the structure of the campaign. Both have had more than one marriage (for better or for worse), and both have their addiction problems, Rush to Oxycontin, Newt to power! i consider both to be, pardon the expression, media whores.
I would be a blog whore if I had the time. (this is the part where I jump and down and scream – “Hey Look At Me!”)
Newt, for all intents and purposes, is Rush! Watch how Newt smacks-down Juan Williams and it’s plain to see. It’s exactly the kind of thing Rush would say if he were on that stage! And it’s not even a bad thing. The Republican party has needed to come to terms with the fact that that one man has more power of influence that anyone is willing to admit. No, Rush Limbaugh does not run the Republican party. He has, however, slowly but surely been cultivating and shaping the desires of the base for a generation. It doesn’t matter what Newt does or says now. A long as he stays on message, and no other Freddie Mac lobbyist scandals hit the press, Newt has this nomination in the bag.
Then, the true test. Is the United States ready to elect Rush Limbaugh as President?
We shall see.