The (Bad) Ideas Guy: Who Let Newt Gingrich Get Away With The GOP ‘Thinker’ Moniker?
He doesn’t believe “Palestinian” is a real ethnic group. He has proposed a child janitor and inner-city Apprentice program to help underprivileged youth. He wants Rep. Barney Frank arrested and thinks same-sex marriage is a “temporary aberration.” And yet it appears many in the media are willing to dismiss some of Newt Gingrich‘s wildest ideas, focusing instead on his personal shortcomings and general unpleasantness, letting Gingrich-backing Republicans get away with the bizarre meme that Gingrich deserves to be considered a member of the Republican “smart set.”
The return of Newt Gingrich the frontrunner out of the ashes of Newt Gingrich, the Tiffany’s patron who warned, “any ad that quotes what I said… is a falsehood,” is one of the more bizarre political stories of this century so far, particularly for those who were expecting that the thirst for a “generic Republican” would lead to a safer frontrunner in 2012 (well, mostly just myself and Lawrence O’Donnell). This was the candidate random people felt the need to stop in hallways just to remind him (accurately) that he was an “embarrassment to our party,” the only House Speaker in history to be sanctioned for ethics violations. And now, suddenly, he’s the only Republican primary voters seem to trust with the nuclear football.
Who fell asleep on the job to permit such a destructive, seemingly indestructible virus to adopt the Republican Party as its parasitic host yet again?
One reason seems to be that no one saw it coming. Gingrich was considered a complete non-factor in the 2012 race this summer, with the highlight of his run being a Homeric hymn written to His Newtness by a spokesperson with too much time on their hands that served for the single greatest Colbert Report moment of the year. This week, Tucker Carlson (among others) proposed that Democrats were caught entirely off-guard by Gingrich’s rise; the same, many argue, can be said about the right, which explains why some conservatives like George Will and Joe Scarborough have gone all-out in targeting him in an attempt to stunt his political growth. The panic among Republicans who were around for Speaker Gingrich’s reign has escalated to such heights that they have reanimated the political corpses of Dan Quayle and John Sununu— names that, for people my age, sound about as vaguely familiar as Dave Coulier and Des’Ree— to help strengthen the other frontrunner, Mitt Romney, and remind people that Gingrich is “unstable.” That his side of the aisle is calling him unstable while certain other ’90s icons are parachuting into the conversation to praise him for “thinking” should be a red flag to analysts in the media, but with few exceptions, the outrage and disgust that came from many over Herman Cain‘s 999 plan or Rep. Michele Bachmann‘s HPV vaccine scares have been noticeably absent.
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