DON'T BLAME THE MEDIA IF THERE'S A NEWT SURGE
...And don't blame the media for the recent (and apparently ongoing) success of Herman Cain. Or at least don't blame what the media is doing now. And don't blame all of the media.
I see suggestions out there that both Cain and the semi-resurgent Gingrich are creations of the press and the Beltway in general. Timothy Egan has written a column for The New York Times about the unsuitability of Cain -- or, really, just about anyone else the GOP has put up for president this year -- and, after citing all the ignorant, superstitious things said by the likes of Cain, Bachmann, Gingrich, et al., Egan alludes to an upcoming appearance by Jack Abramoff on 60 Minutes and tells us:
... as long as the political class focuses on the happy-hour antics of a pizza man, nothing will change but the name of the lobbyist counting congressmen in his corral.
But it's not the fault of the political class. The political class is focused on Cain because a large percentage of Republican voters -- buffoons and idiots that they are -- have a genuine, organic interest in Cain. They like him. They want to vote for him.
If the political class and the Beltway media could create a front-runner in the Republican Party, Jon Huntsman would be on the verge of forming a VP search committee, not mired at 2% in the polls.
Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling data suggests that Newt Gingrich could pick up Herman Cain supporters if the Cain campaign implodes, and there are signs that Gingrich is inching up in the polls even now. Dave Weigel says that "Gingrich Surges!" is a story the press is inventing now as a distraction:
You see, Newt Gingrich is about to surge. Paul Gigot says so. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page editor moderated a News Corp./College Board rap session about education last week, and Gingrich managed, somehow, to outshine and out-wonk a lineup that included Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. It got Gigot, one of the more influential conservative editorialists, thinking hard about Gingrich’s I-can-win-this-thing spin....
We have read/endured some version of this story since Aug. 29, when Paul Bedard saw the first stirrings of a Newt comeback. ("In Missouri and Louisiana, for example, he is fourth behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.") ... Prefab Newtmania reached its dizzy heights on Monday night, when Monica Crowley got a chance to interview the man on Fox News....
But if Gingrich is surging, or about to surge, or about to have a mini-surge, it's not because Wall Street Journal op-eds and U.S. News blog posts are being written about him -- it's because the crazy base of the GOP gets all its political information from Fox and other like-minded media sources, and Gingrich has spent years doing his shtick for these people in these media outlets (as well as on mainstream news TV). And if Cain is surging, it's not because "the political class" is paying attention to him -- it's because Fox and the rest have been peddling know-nothing Cainism for years and years, and now that know-nothingism is the civic religion of Wingnuttia.
...Cain is not the problem. It's his party. Cain gets away with saying that we should have a moat along the Mexican border filled with alligators because there is no reality cop on the Republican beat.
It's not merely that there's no voice of sanity in the GOP. It's that there's a voice of insanity -- Fox News, right-wing talk radio, the right-wing Internet, and the bleatings of wingnut-welfare-funded think tanks. That's who made it possible for Cain to surge now and Gingrich, perhaps, to surge in the future. That's who made the Bachmann surge possible a while back, and the Trump surge before that. What made these surges possible began a long time ago.