Let’s start with the obvious. South Carolina Republicans are a very stupid people. There is just no other way of saying it. They’re ignorant, dumb, simple-minded, and misinformed. They are the glaring consequences of one of the worst educational systems in the United States – good ole South Carolina (state motto: “At least we are not Mississippi”).
If exit polls are to be believed, then 2/3rds of South Carolina Republicans chose Newt Gingrich because of the recent debates. Yet, if I recall, and I do because I watched the debates, the rowdy mob watching the debates seemed the most boisterous during the following two Newt body slams: 1) his coded racial slur about food stamps and the “people” that use them and 2) his self-righteous and well-worn head shot at those evil, leftist, elitist, bloodthirsty media types. I mean, how dare they report Newt’s quest for free, guiltless sex?
The reason why South Carolina Republicans are so stupid is because they eat that crap up. For them, conservatism is not about a concrete governing strategy or conservative public policy positions. Rather, it is about slaying imaginary bogeymen, particularly ones that are not white, rural, and uneducated. It is breathtaking that in a day when unemployment is 8.5% and health care costs are rising rapidly that South Carolina Republicans greatest fears include the mainstream media and people on food stamps. They are like children listening to a scary, campfire story. The only thing missing from Newt’s repertoire was a flashlight under his chin and a slightly more ominous facial expression. “Ooh, John King, he wants to fundamentally destroy America and conservatism by asking about my previous life! Only I can save mankind!” I think his fear-mongering would be slightly more effective if he actually had King jump out from behind a podium and scare the audience. South Carolina Republicans are nothing but small-minded children that are easily influenced by this kind of cultural and religious demagoguery.
This weekend, I read an article from the Washington Post which interviewed a South Carolina Newt supporter. She explained that she voted for Newt because of his Christian worldview. That sounds strange, I thought. Newt is a lot of things, but Christian he is not. Perhaps she meant to say that she has a heathen worldview? A little further in the article and I found the key that unlocked the absurdity. This lady was scared that Muslims were taking over the country and was proud of Newt’s brave stand against the very spooky Sharia law. Of course anyone who has access to the outside world can understand that the chances of Sharia law taking over the US constitution are about the same as me voting for Newt Gingrich for President. The woman is clearly stupid, or more precisely brainwashed, primarily as a result of years of listening to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. I feel quite confident that Newt realizes how idiotic his conspiracy theories are. Nevertheless, it works like a charm as evidenced by the poor simpletons that flocked to the polls to vote for their bogeyman vanquisher.
Of course, the greatest crime from the rise of Newt is the near omnipresent view from Republican base voters that Gingrich is some kind of smart, ideas guy. I dare you, no, I will bet you $10,000 that you can’t recite more brilliant Newt ideas than the amount of fingers on your right hand (which by the way is how some South Carolina Republicans count). Newt really is what stupid people think a smart person sounds like. Smart people do not find Gingrich even remotely intriguing. They make fun of him like Andrew Sullivan latest post, “Newt’s Grandiose Ideas for Fundamentally Reshaping the Country on a Fundamental Way.” No, Barack Obama is not quaking in his boots at the thought of facing down Gingrich in a Douglas-Lincoln debate. Not only is Obama a hundred times smarter and more accomplished than Gingrich, Newt will be without the aid of racial slurs and media put-downs as tools to win over a foaming-at-the-mouth insane audience. Independents, as opposed to the children that voted in South Carolina, realize that real intellectuals do not have to misuse historical references and fill their speech with an excessive amount of adverbs to fake their intellectualism.
I wish I could describe Newt’s “big ideas” better than NY Times blogger (and, yes, conservative) Ross Douthat.
I have, for my sins, watched Gingrich make his pitch across what feels like seventeen thousand Republican primary debates, and I am at a loss to identify the “big ideas” and “big solutions” that he is supposedly campaigning on. Yes, he has an implausible supply-side tax plan, but you never hear him talk about it. He has technically signed on to some form of entitlement reform, but you never hear him talk about that, either. Instead, so far as I can tell, his “idea-oriented” campaign consists almost entirely of promising to hold Lincoln-Douglas-style debates with President Obama, grandstanding about media bias and moderator stupidity, defending his history of ideological flexibility much more smoothly than Mitt Romney, and then occasionally throwing out a wonky-sounding notion (like, say, outsourcing E-Verify to American Express) that’s more glib than genuinely significant. His last-minute momentum in South Carolina, which last night’s debate did nothing to derail, has been generated almost exclusively by the politics of : If he wins the Palmetto State primary, it will be because conservative voters don’t much like the mainstream press, and Gingrich has mastered the art of taking tough questions and turning them into dudgeon-rich denunciations of the liberal media and all its works.If Gingrich wins the nomination, then I am out of the Republican Party for good. I will not participate in a movement completely fueled by cultural resentment. However, in some ways, I feel that it would be an injustice if Gingrich doesn’t win. He really does best represent today’s conservative movement. It would be a moment when the GOP will collectively look at itself in the mirror only to find Gingrich staring right back. Gingrich is the heart and soul of the GOP.
For years, Republican leaders stood back and said nothing while talk radio and Fox News got rich off of lies and innuendo. Now, some of those same establishment figures would like to take it all back. Sorry, you establishment types. It’s too late. Look at South Carolina. The mobs no longer do your bidding.