Patterico's Pontifications

1/26/2012

Debate Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:56 pm

Romney or Gingrich?

Gladiator Republicans

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:22 am

[Posted by Karl]

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?

In the current wave of generally conservative punditry on Newt Gingrich’s candidacy, a common subtext (and occasional text) is criticism not of Newt, but of his supporters:

[C]onservatives are simply out for a good time. They want to be entertained by a Gingrich-Obama slugfest in the general election debates, and they are willing to sacrifice everything — their credibility, their values and the White House — to sit in the Coliseum and watch a Christian get devoured by lions.

Blaming the electorate is rarely effective and this line of attack is no exception.  In the first instance, to the extent Gingrich’s campaign is feeding on populist discontent, his supporters are unlikely to be swayed by a parade of pundits perched at big media outlets telling them they are shallow rubes.  To the contrary, the implicit condescension probably fuels the underlying populist discontent.  If these pundits are hoping to persuade, they are likely failing.  If they are writing simply to vent their own frustration, how different are they from their stereotype of Newt’s supporters?

Moreover, on the campaign trail, Gingrich apparently comes off as far more substantive than Mitt Romney.  That would not surprise me.  Gingrich is nothing if not an an uncontrolled, gushing firehose of policy.  Some of his ideas may not be conservative.  Some of his conservative ideas may be irrelevant to the major issues facing the next president.  But the notion that support for Gingrich is simply the desire to be entertained ignores the facts on the ground, which again makes for bad punditry.

The problem for these pundits is not that Gingrich is Maximus, manipulating the mob to get ahead.  Their problem is that Romney is Commodus, the political heir of dubious legitimacy who tries but fails to co-opt the mob.  Ironically, their Circus Maximus of criticism is being staged at the very moment when Gingrich looks to be losing momentum.  It would be even more ironic if Gingrich could again turn the criticism of his supporters to his advantage.

Update: Via Twitter, I have learned that S.E. Cupp thinks it’s bad journalism on my part to not identify her as the author of the blockquote, although I did link to her article immediately beforehand.  I generally like her work, and thus was loath to single her out as having written something so condescending and counter-productive.  I forgot there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  My apologies.

–Karl


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