Permalink to Newt Gingrich and Amazing Grace

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.

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Members have made 54 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    Yup.

    • #1
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:28 am
  2. Profile photo of mesquito Inactive

     You’re overthinking.  As Rush Limbaugh said, Newt is a vessel and the minute he forgets that he’ll crash.

    • #2
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:39 am
  3. Profile photo of Gaby Charing Member

    A view from across the Pond. I know Newt Gingrich only from the clip of him in discussion with Christopher Hitchens, which was posted when Hitchens died. I knew who he was, but couldn’t have picked him out in a photo. I was struck by the following: intelligent, educated, unusually articulate, and talking excellent sense (more so than Hitchens), boyish good looks, and charm (it reminded me of the Clinton charm – beware!).

    I see him as a seducer, deeply unreliable as seducers tend to be, and a very dangerous choice for your party. However, Romney is reptilian, and Gingrich will certainly keep us entertained!

    • #3
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:42 am
  4. Profile photo of The Mugwump Inactive

    Only God and His angels know if Newt has redeemed himself.  I’m just a man and far less forgiving.  Maybe he doesn’t chase skirts anymore, but Newt seems to be the same arrogant, cantankerous, egocentric, career politician he always has been.  Newt will have to show me a bit of humility before I can take his conversion seriously.  I won’t hold my breath.  

    • #4
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:42 am
  5. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    Newt is rising because Romney is socially flawed as a pop figure.

    This simply is not true: “Newt is more optimistic while being honest”.

    Optimistic, perhaps.  Honest?   Are you kidding me?  Do you believe that there is one controversial aspect of his life, prior positions, or career regarding which he is really honest?  Me neither.

    My dream date is still this guy, Jeb Clinton.

    • #5
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:45 am
  6. Profile photo of Cunctator Inactive

    I think not.  I think the simple answer is that Obama has been treated with kid gloves by the media and by former political opponents (yes, I’m looking at you Sen McCain),and some people derive pleasure and a sense of relief from seeing someone (Newt) actually speaking out and saying what they think in these debates. 

    These people project those particular feelings of frustration, and want someone to take this type of racous talk to Obama; but in the end Obama is too smart to get involved in these kind of knock down and drag out debates.  Losing strategy, sadly.

    • #6
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:46 am
  7. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

     However, Romney is reptilian, and Gingrich will certainly keep us entertained!

    That’s the Reptilian versus the Amphibian then, battling in Florida, an appropriate state.

    • #7
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:47 am
  8. Profile photo of Franco Member

    Newt Gingrich doesn’t fit as nicely into the Tea Party dream candidate department, but he’ll do. One thing pundits often miss when speculating about candidates and voters, is that even if a candidate has some history of not being a “true conservative” or has in the past voted for questionable legislation that conflicts with current ideals of the movement, voters would like to hear their candidate at least articulate their present ideals and legislative goals. A candidate such as Newt Gingrich draws support and makes enemies.  

    They understand that if a candidate wins  by advancing certain issues, thereby making friends and enemies, he will more likely continue with his friends supporting those issues. And he will be able to accomplish these stated goals. It’s called a mandate. To conservatives who actually want to achieve something out of their victory, this is very important. Even if the politician is cynical, why would he abandon his friends’ issues and side with his enemies, if those issues brought him to electoral victory?

    • #8
    • January 24, 2012 at 9:58 am
  9. Profile photo of Franco Member

    Why? Here’s another take He’s not exactly a Washington outsider, but Washington insiders seem to abhor him. He may just be the best thing that’s come along for the Tea Party folks yet. He’s been vetted. He has political experience. He’s not going to be ambushed, he’s certainly not going to become blindsided or tongue-tied, and he will fight for them.

    Even if he triangulates at some point in office, at least he will be tied to the conservative leg of the triangle.

    • #9
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:01 am
  10. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    I think it helps that Newt doesn’t go on and on about his faith and his conversion, like Dubya did.

    Dubya brought it up so much that it sometimes, arguably, felt a little phony, like a set of campaign talking points.

    In Newt’s case, he keeps it much more private. Of course, he also doesn’t hide it, or keep it a secret, which would be just as bad. 

    • #10
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:03 am
  11. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    Gaby Charing: However, Romney is reptilian…

    David Icke, is that you?  ;-)

    • #11
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:05 am
  12. Profile photo of David Williamson Member
    mesquito:  You’re overthinking.  As Rush Limbaugh said, Newt is a vessel and the minute he forgets that he’ll crash. 

    At the risk of sounding like a dittohead, what Rush said is that Newt is expressing conservatism – it is this, rather than Newt personally, that is popular.

    Another way of saying this is that Newt is representing Tea Party values, is on the (metaphorical) attack against Democrats, and doing it eloquently, rather than being a Rino squish.

    As Rush also said, the minute Newt stops espousing conservatism, he will be toast. I suspect he (Newt) is smart enough to know this – let’s see how long he can keep it up.

    I didn’t see the most recent debate, where Newt is said to have done badly by not getting any standing ovations, but Jay Nordingler, whose opinion I respect, remains impressed by Newt – or, again, his message.

    So, yeah, it’s not really that puzzling.

    • #12
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:06 am
  13. Profile photo of BThompson Inactive

    The idea that Newt is honest is pretty hilarious. Reminds me of something I saw recently.

    409283_278854525507760_145209655538915_738443_262501272_n.jpg

    • #13
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:08 am
  14. Profile photo of SteveS Inactive

    Newt is a politician, which essentially causes him to make arguments that he gauges are popular, pander to those who support him and look for the most advantageous populist wave and ride it for all it’s worth.

    Newt is doing what he he does best, which is be the axis where all things connect. He is like the thoroughbred who has found his stride, hears the roar of the crowd and can see the home stretch. What remains is whether he will “spit the bit” before reaching the finish line.

    Romney on the other hand is used to winning the day, if you will, with data (which he says he loves) and a succinct bottom line argument which doesn’t take charisma or passion only competance. He has never needed to be witty or have a endearing anecdote in the board room I’m sure. He is forcing himself to be other than what he is and it appears phony and insincere.

    Romney is beginning to look like the one time favorite Sham in the famous Belmont Stakes race. He only hopes that Newt doesn’t come on like Secretariat.

    • #14
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:10 am
  15. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    The redemptive process, at least in my experience, is accompanied by a deep sense of humility.  Yet what I see in Newt comes close to hubris.  The pieces of that narrative don’t fit together, at least for me.

    As I’ve posted before here, Newt carries within him the seeds of his own self-destruction (e.g., attacking Paul Ryan).  They stem from his hubristic nature.  He reminds me of Bertie Wooster’s generic description of aunts:  “Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.”  [To Gingrich supporters: this is a metaphor]

    • #15
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:11 am
  16. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    It’s always instructive to throw the “friends” question out. Reagan was so effective because he had many very good friends who were very smart and great at their jobs. They flocked to work in his administration. Who in their right mind would want to work for Ron Paul ? Now considering that, who would you think Newt would reach out to ? 

    • #16
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:14 am
  17. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    We need big changes. That requires a leader who is bold and aggressive. Gingrich is a gamble, but gambling is necessary when the stakes are high and time is scarce.

    To use a football analogy, Romney is the running game and Gingrich is the passing game. Only a fool coach focuses on running the ball when down by multiple touchdowns with only a couple minutes left on the clock.

    Romney doesn’t fit the circumstances. He’s not “flawed as a pop figure.” He’s a band-aid on a gaping wound.

    • #17
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:16 am
  18. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    BThompson: The idea that Newt is honest is pretty hilarious. Reminds me of something I saw recently. · 5 minutes ago

    That’s an “attack from the left,” as they say.

    • #18
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:16 am
  19. Profile photo of Franco Member

    BThompson –

     You should see my facebook page. It has nasty, pithy stuff about every Republican in the race (I have some lefty friends). I have recently started unsubscribing to their posts. Facebook is not a place I choose to have political debates and at this point they just make me angry. 

    Facebook bumper-stickers are not an argument. Peace out. (as they say)

    • #19
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:17 am
  20. Profile photo of Casey Member

    Nonsense.

    Newt’s appeal is more Reggie Jackson-ish.  There’s a sense that he’ll come through big in the big game.

    Mitt seems more like the player who will go 4-for-4 with 4 singles and no RBI….  Can’t blame him for losing but did nothing to help get the win either.

    • #20
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:17 am
  21. Profile photo of BThompson Inactive
    DrewInWisconsin That’s an “attack from the left,” as they say. · 4 minutes ago

    How so? Conservatives think a tawdry personal life is no biggie, now? I didn’t get the memo. 

    • #21
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:22 am
  22. Profile photo of Noesis Noeseos Inactive

    Newt manages to attract a number of strong statements, both pro and con.  People are passionate about him, either for or against.  He shows himself to be a complicated human, flawed but convincingly in love with the republic.  To the degree that he stands as an image of redemption, it is partly because of his public contrition but mainly because of his zeal for restoring American exceptionalism and repelling the Gramsci-ite nihilists who have breached the outer gates of the city on a hill.

     Romney, on the other hand, elicits about as much human interest as a robot.  Managers and tinkerers may like him, but the voters are not looking for the return of Herbert Hoover.

    • #22
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:23 am
  23. Profile photo of Gaby Charing Member
    Misthiocracy
    Gaby Charing: However, Romney is reptilian…
    David Icke, is that you?  ;-) · 17 minutes ago

    Yup!

    • #23
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:25 am
  24. Profile photo of Aaron Gardner Inactive

    For the record, I’m no big brain. I am just a father, husband, and recovering Perry supporter, who happens to see an electorate that badly wants redemption, political, spiritual, and economic.  They’re getting all of this vicariously through Newt’s run.

    We won’t know until later whether this story ends with actual redemption, both personal and national, or if it ends with another betrayal.

    The circumstances that exist today have made people less apprehensive towards taking this leap of faith.

    • #24
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:25 am
  25. Profile photo of SteveS Inactive

    I watched A Face in The Crowd over the weekend on TCM and it just made me think; will Newt be like Lonesome Rhodes after the open camera/mic incident when the audience saw and heard what he really was and public sentiment caused all his supporters to drop him like he had the plague.

    • #25
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:26 am
  26. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    Peter Robinson

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

    Do you believe the “prodigal son” is merely a sinner like everyone else?  My reading of the prodigal is that he utterly wasted his inheritance, lived a riotous life, and then a life of complete degradation.  It was only then that he returned, and to his father’s credit he welcomed his son back.  The good son was a sinner too because of his jealousy:  a sin, but nothing to compare with the prodigal’s life.

    And the father did not turn his possessions (nor the nomination for the presidency) over to the prodigal.  

    Being prodigal and repenting is a good thing:  it does not qualify you for the presidency.  

    Finally, nothing I see in Newt is indicative of the humble, repentant soul.  That, of course, is between him and God–but us mortals can only make our judgments based on what we see.

    • #26
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:28 am
  27. Profile photo of wmartin Inactive
    DrewInWisconsin
    BThompson: The idea that Newt is honest is pretty hilarious. Reminds me of something I saw recently. · 5 minutes ago

    That’s an “attack from the left,” as they say. · 5 minutes ago

    In this case, a good and fair one.

    The pop culture aspect of this election will be devastating to our side. The jokes about Romney will be that he is rich and a dudley-do-right. Those are mostly harmless and will not likely turn off so many people as to make a hude difference in the willingness of low-information voters to go Republican. The jokes about Newt, on the other hand, will really cut deep.

    • #27
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:29 am
  28. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    I don’t believe Newt is honest, but I do believe he is the only candidate who regularly cuts through the political correctness which has suffocated this nation’s political discourse my entire life.

    Is he an egomaniac? Yes. Is that a dangerous quality for a President? Yes. But you know what? General Patton had a big ego, too, and he earned it.

    Moderate men propose moderate changes. Romney is the sort of run-of-the-mill Republican who proposes corrections over the course of decades and then shrugs when the next Democrat-controlled Congress reverses everything he accomplished.

    • #28
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:29 am
  29. Profile photo of wmartin Inactive
    tabula rasa
    Peter Robinson

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

    Do you believe the “prodigal son” is merely a sinner like everyone else?  My reading of the prodigal is that he utterly wasted his inheritance, lived a riotous life, and then a life of complete degradation.  It was only then that he returned, and to his father’s credit he welcomed his son back.  The good son was a sinner too because of his jealousy:  a sin, but nothing to compare with the prodigal’s life.

    And the father did not turn his possessions (nor the nomination for the presidency) over to the prodigal.  

    Being prodigal and repenting is a good thing:  it does not qualify you for the presidency. · 1 minute ago

    Did the prodigal son repent in his 60’s? Most people “repent” by then anyway, just because they can no longer keep up a true sinner’s pace.

    • #29
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:30 am
  30. Profile photo of Anon Inactive

    Peter Robinson: “…a man whose life, both personal and political, has proven so, shall we say, uneven…”

    Sorry, Mr. Robinson, that won’t do.  I’m trying to think of someone – restricting myself to politicians – who might be the exception to that characterization, and I’m at a loss to think of one.  Perhaps you could help me by pointing out just one or two.

    I believe Newt’s attraction to so many is that he’s pissed-off at the very establishment to which you tie him, and he has an extraordinary talent to express what has the rest of us pissed-off, doing it with brevity, focus, and clarity.  I feel good, and in a sense vindicated, when he takes the media to task.  We haven’t had a champion like that since – well, since Regan.  You know, the guy who had such an uneven past.

    • #30
    • January 24, 2012 at 10:31 am
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