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Newt Gingrich and Amazing Grace

For quite a few days now, I’ve joined everybody else in scratching my head, trying to figure out Newt’s appeal.  Although I’ve always had a soft spot for him myself, I’ve been almost as baffled as Ann Coulter about how a man whose life, both personal and political, has proven so, shall we say, uneven, could have possibly have appealled to so many tea partiers and social conservatives alike.  Romney’s right about Newt, of course.  Newt has spent four decades in Washington.  Yet when Newt says “I’m one of you,” people believe him.  How can this be?

In “The Transom” this morning, Ben Domenech quotes Aaron Gardner, providing a big part of the answer:

From @Aaron_RS: “I think much of Newt’s appeal is that he is on a journey of redemption, and the people want to believe they are as well. His conversion, and the broader idea of Americans being able to bounce back. His story fits the mood. You add the redemption theme to Newt being able to appear confident and communicate ideas to people, and you have a result like SC. Mitt, on the other hand, has no redemption story because to repudiate any past position is to admit he was wrong. In the end, Newt is more optimistic while being honest and that goes a long way in building trust. Mitt isn’t getting that benefit.”

Romney, in other words, is the diligent older brother, the one who has behaved himself all his life and just can’t understand why he doesn’t get more credit. 

Newt?  Newt’s the prodigal son–a sinner like everyone else.