THEY WANNA KILL SOMETHING
I've seen versions of this image for the past forty years. It's a classic bit of pop culture:
And it's basically the way Republican voters feel right now (and pretty much all the time), which is why Newt Gingrich is doing so well, and Mitt Romney isn't.
Steve Kornacki explains why Gingrich's attack on CNN's John King for a question about Newt's ex-wife was such a hit with the debate crowd last night:
It's no mystery why the audience of Republicans so instinctively and passionately rallied to Gingrich's defense. His final line was the key: that the liberal media is out to get Republicans and will stop at nothing to destroy them is an absolute article of faith on the right....
What Gingrich did brilliantly on Thursday night is to articulate this paranoid victimhood in a clear and compelling (for his audience, at least) way. It's the same basic trick he pulled in this week's other debate, when he connected with another strain of the persecution complex: that honest, tax-paying Republicans are the victims of a dependency class of poor people and minorities that Democrats intentionally enable. Thus did Monday's crowd rejoice when Gingrich insisted to Fox News' Juan Williams that there was nothing remotely insulting about his statement that the NAACP should be asking for paychecks instead of food stamps, or his suggestion that children in poor neighborhoods don’t understand the value of work.
Kornacki doesn't say it outright, so I will: Yes, the "liberal media" is a favorite wingnut target, but the key here is that he attacked the media head-on, face-to-face, on both occasions. (In the case of Williams, he was also attacking a black man head-on after that black man talked about racism -- very satisfying.) This debate is supposed to be part of a process of choosing a president who'll take the oath of office next year, but Republican voters have no patience -- they want to kill something now.
Gingrich did that. In each case, he had a "liberal media" guy sitting right in front of him and he whaled on him.
This is what Mitt Romney doesn't do when he talks about his wealth and his business career and his taxes -- as I said earlier this morning, the voters have his back on this to some extent, but what they want him to do is use questions about his money as an opportunity to kill something, now.
They don't want him to say, Look, Obama's going to engage in class war eventually, so don't you guys up here on the stage with me help him do that, which is his basic message on this. They want him to find someone to pound on immediately.
What Romney needs to do is turn the question on the questioner and say, "You are engaging in class warfare just by asking me this, you liberal media commie scumbag. You are the problem. You hate freedom."
C'mon, Mitt -- don't delay their gratification!
(Kornacki link via Steve Benen. X-posted at Booman Tribune.)