Friday, May 20, 2011

They should have been finished before they got started

This is a political post.

Newt Gingrich.

President Newt Gingrich.

Nope. Just doesn't feel right.

I still remember the opening of the Olympics held in Atlanta. There was a moment after I got misty when Ali appeared to light the torch and the stadium screamed his name, during the majestic international pageantry, that the organizers had twenty or so Chevy 4x4s driven into the stadium. With headlights blazing it looked almost bizarre. Mentally, it was as jarring as if as if in the middle of the royal wedding, Kate had emerged from the limo wearing Juggalo makeup. Which brings us brings year's field of Republican nominees, or specifically Newt Gingrich.

As it's been pointed out around the web, it's been a rough week for Mr. Gingrich. First he goes onto a political show and denounces his own party's budget plan, calling it radical right-wing social engineering. He opposes it on the basic premise that we just shouldn't be radical in our governance, liberal or conservative. He for the moment sounds respectable, almost thoughtful and intelligent.

It doesn't last.

The people he's trying to get the nomination from castigate him for not towing the party line. Which sounds peculiar for people screaming for freedom from having the government "shove things down their throat". Apparently they don't mind shoving things down throats, as long as they get to be the top. Some random guy denounces him on camera after meeting and it skitters all over the web. The pundits who welcomed him as a candidate less than 10 days earlier act as if Newt said that this skirt really does make their butt look big. So to try and fix things, Gingrich goes on another television show and says with a straight face that the show he's been on 35 times unexpectedly tricked him and if you quote exactly what he said, in context, you are misrepresenting him.

Note: If you really want to make a daming commercial, forget the statement Sunday. It would be more damaging to use the "if you quote me then you've quoted me wrong" statement. Autotune it and put a funky little beat to it. You don't even have to say anything, just end it after 30 seconds on a loop with the tag line..."For President. Really?"

Newt, who quietly has been for years appeared to be the intelligent conservative option (minus the whole getting his wife to sign the divorce papers right after her surgery in the hospital recovery room fiasco) suddenly appeared dumb as a post. He misread the party, and his likability. The party wasn't looking for new ideas, or even a re-framing of the ones they already have. They just wanted a name to stand out front.

Plus he missed his Joe the Plumber moment - that moment when you could show you know more than the other guy without belittling him. When the random guy stopped him the hall, it was a moment to showcase his argument to the general public. When confronted as a candidate, Obama stopped and tried to explain the finer points of his plan to Joe. He didn't just smile and walk away. Its a way of looking at the world. A leader of men, even if he knows he's smarter than them, must still respect those men. You can't just tell people stuff is better, you have to explain to them why.

Newt's response, as has been those of a number of this year's candidates have been that of ideologues, rather than leaders. Community organizer was probably the most important thing Obama did to win the Presidency. I think of more of our politicians did a little of that, helping folks with the basic fabric of their lives, we'd live in a different country.

We're not even going to comment on the glitter incident.

To finish off the week, his campaign put out a press release that made ridiculous images of action hero Newt come to mind. Written in a style that would have made Shakespeare giggle and has to have two or three comedians practically salivating to get on stage, one almost has to wonder were they serious? Have the past few years of serious and thoughtfulness been the facade?

For years, the Republicans, the party of rich and powerful, have somehow managed to create the image of underdog of people like Gingrich. But his egotistical, almost insistent "I am Great, and you should bow down" attitude promises to make this harder. And if they pull it off, you'll realize that they've really earned their money.

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