Sunday, September 19, 2010


You may already know about Newt Gingrich's latest effort to pander to the yahoos:

Gingrich told the crowd at [the Values Voter Summit] that it's time to take federal action to prevent Shariah Law from infiltrating courtrooms in the US.

"We should have a federal law that says sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States," Gingrich said to a standing ovation from the audience. The law will let judges know, Gingrich said, that "no judge will remain in office that tried to use sharia law."

I like Steve Benen's headline: GINGRICH DEMANDS LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS IMAGINARY THREAT. I also like the fact that Steve reminds us who constitutes Gingrich's core audience: not the ignorant, hate-filled people Gingrich seems to want to reach, but the mainstream media.

Remember, as far as the media establishment goes, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is a "visionary" worthy of respect, despite his frequent slips into madness....

The disgraced former Speaker added that the Democrats' "secular socialist machine" is comparable to "radical Islamists," and that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius relies on "the spirit of Soviet tyranny."

Major media outlets, however, have no qualms about considering Gingrich a credible, mainstream figure.

But isn't Gingrich also connecting with some wingnuts voters? Well, note how poorly hedid in the Values Voter Summit presidential straw poll:

[Mike] Pence, chair of the House Republican conference, received 24% of the vote, edging the winner of the 2009 straw poll, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who received 22%. Each addressed the gathering on Friday, as did third-place finisher Mitt Romney, who won 13% of the vote.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who spoke Saturday, received 10%.

Fourth. He came in fourth. And I'd say this is an outlier (Mike Pence? Really?), but I haven't seen a 2012 poll of any kind, ever, in which Gingrich won. No one with an interest in running for office is trying harder to rouse the rabble than Gingrich, but the rabble remain largely unroused.

And yet Gingrich can be on a Sunday talk show any time he wants. To me, that makes him the new-style guy on the tire swing, the new-era John McCain. McCain represented the old way of impressing the Beltway establishment: be anti-liberal but surprisingly "centrist" on a few issues, seem "refreshingly honest," and the press will think you're the guy who should always be on TV to tell us what to do about everything. In the new version of this formulation, you still have to court the press McCain style, but you should be a lunatic teabaggish provocateur. You should throw out red meat and irresponsible crazy talk, but you should do so using big words and abstruse-seeming allusions. That's what makes you good (albeit "serious"-seeming) television in the 2010s.

Gingrich's base, like McCain's, is the Beltway media. He's just giving them something they didn't need from McCain back before they felt threatened by the Internet: Fox-style demagoguery. I'm not sure why wingnut voters aren't buying, but they aren't. Only insider journalists are.

No comments: