23 January 2012

Friedersdorf on the ReNewtening

Always-smart and occasionally-correct Atlantic columnist Conor Friedersdorf has a great discussion of the mystifying return of a viable Newt Gingrich candidacy in the Republican primary.

When a candidate wins a primary, there are typically some pundits making the case that he or she is in fact the superior choice on the merits. But that isn't really true after Newt Gingrich's win in South Carolina. Even on the right, it's hard to find many people who'll defend his candidacy on those grounds. ...

On the right, it is Fox News, talk radio, and sites like RedState that enjoy the most influence over primary voters. Ever since President Obama was elected, these "thought leaders" have insisted that the most important reality for citizens to grasp is that we're being led by an Alinskyite Kenyan anti-colonialist eager to radically transform America with the help of a sycophantic, untrustworthy mainstream media. Yes, these "thought leaders" admitted that he's an American citizen, but it isn't like they've personally seen his birth certificate, if you catch their drift -- they're too busy cataloging the "apology tour" he's been on and his efforts to bring about Israel's destruction.  ...

 So why this exaggerated narrative, wherein the establishment foists Mitt Romney on an unwilling Republican primary electorate? I'll tell you. GOP partisans are eager to persuade themselves that the base is engaged in a sympathetic protest against malign elites, because the alternative is accepting that they've been manipulated by a flip-flopping pol who offered red meat andressentiment in place of substance. In fact, it is Tea Partiers and "thought-leaders" from their wing of the Republican Party who are as much to blame as anyone for Romney's shot at the nomination, and the emergence of Gingrich as his last serious obstacle to running against Obama. Just ponder the pathetic alternatives that non-moderate Republicans and movement conservatives produced in 2012: Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. As GOP voters are well aware, this is a flawed bunch, and their respective failures cannot be blamed on academics or scientists or media elites or secularists or any other conservative bogeyman.

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