The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

In the Presence of His Newtness

Posted on | December 8, 2011 | 36 Comments

Newt Gingrich speaks Wednesday at the Republican Jewish Coalition
2012 Presidential Forum, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Robert Stacy McCain)

Is it just me, or does Newt Gingrich constantly emit the signal that we should be grateful he has condescended to communicate with us mere mortals? And do Republicans really want to nominate this guy?

Polls say, “Yes,” which leads me to conclude that Republican voters are profoundly masochistic, and are acting on a subconscious desire to be humiliated at the ballot box next November.

The support for Gingrich puzzles and worries me. It’s as if Republicans are defensively trying to rid themselves of the taint of anti-intellectualism left over from the Bush years. But then you remember that Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” was supposed to be the antidote to the reputation of “mean-spiritedness” the GOP acquired during the 1990s.

The shift toward Newt strikes me as a retrograde movement — “Hey, let’s go back to the Good Old Days of 1995!” — and I just can’t imagine Americans going for this kind of Blast From the Past trip. But I don’t mean to give you a lengthy discourse about what’s wrong with Newt, I’m just writing some words to go with the photos I took yesterday, so let’s get to the pictures.

Newt as seen from the third-floor balcony that served as the press gallery for Wednesday’s event. When I wandered into the balcony, I was greeted by Tony Lee of Human Events, who wanted to share stories about his experiences covering the Cain Train derailment. But the pain from Cain is impossible to explain. If you want to know how bad it got, read Joe Budzinski’s account of trying to cover a Cain fundraising event in November. Now back to Newt . . .

Newt is surrounded by a press scrum while greeting well-wishers after his speech. Notice the man at right in Hasidic wardrobe. Here’s video of the scrum chasing Newt through the lobby:

Back in August, when Gingrich placed eighth in the Ames Straw Poll, the media mostly ignored him. Now that he’s the front-runner, Newt’s like the Justin Bieber of the GOP field and paparazzi chase him everywhere.

Alana Goodman of Commentary works on a blog post. When i got home I checked and found she’d written a post about how Newt was against “radical” change in May but is in favor of “fundamental” change now.

The view from the back of the press gallery. Note the laptop screens, and also notice the man standing at stage left, waiting for Newt to finish talking. He had to wait a long time.


36 Responses to “In the Presence of His Newtness”

  1. FenelonSpoke
    December 8th, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    If Newt becomes the nominee I will vote for him. The US simply cannot afford another 4 years of Obama who hates America.

  2. smitty
    December 8th, 2011 @ 7:56 am

    As with Mitt, as well. But is the right just falling for Yet Another Silver-Tongued Devil?
    And didn’t that occur to the U.S. in 2008?

  3. Dcmick
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    The size and the scale of the problems that beset the United States NEED and REQUIRE a man with a vastly, oversized ego to address them, FOR ONLY such a man would have the temerity and the confidence necessary to truly take them on, and believe, confidently believe, that he can solve them.

    What is so difficult to understand about that?

    Sometimes when it hits the fan, you need a MacArthur to pull you out of the fire.

    There are times in our lives when nothing less than sheer genius will suffice.

    And men of genius are unlike other men.

    You feel like Gingrich condescends to communicate with you.  Well, maybe because a man of that intellect would rather be doing other things.  Is that so damned unnatural or something?  It was said that when Rommel would be attending the opera or something, he would really be sitting there abstracting about how to employ another battalion in such and such a situation.

    The fixation on Gingrich’s supposed arrogance is part and parcel of the collective dumbing down of the rank and the file, and well as an irritating tic on the part of the supposed intellectual commentating class, who ARE MADE tremendously uncomfortable being in the presence of a guy who is a far better than they are.

    Or to put it another way, are we really going to allow the jealousy and the envy of the commentating class to inform our political choices.

    Jealousy and envy, bitterness, such as that displayed by Alana Goodman at Commentary by the by, aren’t very seemly.

  4. Dcmick
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    This will be another day, and it will be another day where men like Quin Hillyer over at the American Spectator, where men like Will and others, in an abject panic, will be foaming at the mouth and spewing all manner of insult and calumny at Gingrich.

    And all for the purpose of pushing some bland, rather timid soul to the front of the Republican party.

    NOTHING so definitively demonstrates to me Romney’s tremendous unsuitedness for the nomination than the manner in which he has gone about pursuing it.

    That man has about as much of a political feel for the party as your typical manhole cover.   He STILL thinks that most of his problems all flow from his flip-flopping, when most Conservatives zero in on his clear ABSENCE OF PASSION about certain issues, which is THE key piece of evidence proving that he WAS NEVER really one of us.

    He’s clueless.

    And we’re supposed to nominate Mr. Clueless as the nominee?

  5. Dcmick
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    McCain, “silver tongued?”  In what universe?

    The right is not “falling” for anybody, for if they were, they would have already “fallen” for Romney, who has said all the sweet nothings necessary to have rendered the object of his desire compliant.

    But compliant they ain’t!

    At least not for him.

    Gingrich hasn’t tried to pander, not least as nakedly as Romney has for six years.   But he is nonetheless closing in on the nomination.

  6. Bob Belvedere
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    In the Presence of His Newtness and it is a large, all-encompassing one, IYKWIMAITYD.

    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    I am disappointed that Paul wasn’t invited.  

    I like his plan for Israel: Cut them loose and let them deal with their enemies.  We hold them back so much, its idiotic.

  8. Anonymous
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    I think Newt’s ascent is partly fueled by the fact that he’s a Big Idea man…and the last Non-Romney standing.

    Let’s face facts.  Romney has been holding at a steady 25% support.  Three-quarters of the Republican base regards the man as a center-leftist only slightly preferable to Obama.  We want someone else.  Someone better.

    The problem is, most of the Better candidates had their campaigns strangled in the cradle.  Sarah Palin and Haley Barbour come immediately to mind.  What was left were candidates that either imploded, like Rick Perry, or never had a serious hope.

    Newt is all that’s left.  Not very appealing, but less unappetizing than the center-left candidate from Mass.

  9. Ladd Ehlinger Jr.
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    Blofeld will build space mirrors to save the Earth for puny humans, and there’s nothing you can do about it, Meester Bond!

  10. Doug Mataconis
    December 8th, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    I wasn’t aware that (1) political organizations were allowed to use the Seal Of The President Of The United States for partisan purposes or (2) that it was considered acceptable to stand on said seal.

    In fact, I’m fairly sure it’s not proper to do either.

  11. Paul Zummo
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:18 am

    I think Newt’s entire persona for the past three months has been one big pander.  He is laying it on thick at the debates, delivering the kind of red meat he knows conservatives want.  It’s not as slick or sickening as Romney’s pandering, but it’s pretty clear to anyone paying attention.

  12. Dcmick
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:20 am

    I’d like to address this idea of Romney “holding steady” at around 25%.

    “Holding steady” is he?

    Implicit in that spin is the unstated but very much implied suggestion that IF HE WANTED TO, Romney could somehow just step on the accelerator and his numbers would take off, like Mario Andretti could just put his foot down coming around the final turn and accelerate coming down the homestretch.

    This is BULL SHIT!

    Romney hasn’t held steady at anything.

    What Romney has done is PLATEAU!

    Romney has been desperately trying to increase his numbers for six long, long years.  He has worked the various social circuits, he has gone to all the appropriate meeting halls, he’s glad-handed with the rest of ’em, and he’s had enough rubber chicken digested to last a life time.    If going to establishment cocktail parties was enough to earn the nomination, who here doubts that Romney would have long ago had the thing sealed up?

    But for all his efforts, his numbers are stuck.

    Not “steady,” but STUCK!

    STUCK going nowhere fast!

    It’s long since past time when we Republicans who gaze at Romney’s now Odyssey like quest for the nomination, gaze at it without that charitable spin that he’s “holding steady.”


  13. Anonymous
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    And the columns, I still have a rotten taste in my mouth from Obama and his set up here in Denver a few years ago

  14. Tennwriter
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    Smitty is referring to Obama, not McCain.

  15. Michael
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    I supported Romney in 2008 and today I can’t even recall his first name. 

    From my perspective (politically aware but not a political insider or nerd) Newt is surging because: 

    1. He is obviously the smartest guy in any room he walks into and is not afraid to push back when poked by the nimrods masquerading as journalist.

    2. He has thought hard and long about the problems besetting this country and is proposing solutions that make sense.

    3. He is an old time politician adjusting to a new political paradigm   and doing so quite effectively. He is not afraid to admit he has been wrong about the things that upset us conservatives the most.

    4. Newt knows how D.C. works and where the bodies are buried. I believe he can be effective as President.

  16. Anonymous
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    “I just can’t imagine Americans going for this kind of Blast From the Past trip.”

    Actually, that may be it exactly.

    Keep in mind we’re not talking about “Americans” here, we’re talking about a specific sub-set of Americans: Republican primary voters.

    To find the most recent substantial Republican Moment of Glory, you have to go all the way back to 1994/95, and when you get there, who’s waiting for you?

    The guy who just became the first Republican Speaker of the House since Eisenhower was president, that’s who.

    It’s been pretty much all downhill for the GOP since then.

    Nostalgia can be a powerful force, especially when it pretty obviously doesn’t matter much whom the GOP nominates.

  17. Tennwriter
    December 8th, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    Eh. I’m okay with a guy who says ‘ah drat, we’re all going to die.’ and then gets up and fights all out anyways because It’s the Right Thing To Do.  See Rick Santorum (who doesn’t have the proper dose of pessimism, but does have the fighting and the steady on approach).

    Character is more important than ego.  Ego can get things done, and your method might work, but the Santorum Way is Better.

    And it offers the benefit of punishing the bad behavior of Gingrich in relation to Scozzafavva that has certain people seriously cheesed off….if you care about that.

    And, finally, most of our problems do not require genius.  I like Dave Ramsay when it comes to finance.  He tells about a guy who has 5 million, but would have had 10 million but the guy is addicted to crazy financial schemes like hummingbird cage futures or something.  Finance is largely simple. Lower the expenses, lower the taxes, wait for income to rise above expenses, start paying down on the debt.

    Its simple, but very, very hard.  Which is why Santorum (or Bachmann or Perry) are superior choices to Gingrich.

  18. Tennwriter
    December 8th, 2011 @ 10:00 am

    The other side of the coin is boredom.  I read ‘Dawn to Decadence’, and that was the author’s primary mover in the affairs of men, and in the arts.

    It was a novel and interesting idea.

  19. Jamie Timon
    December 8th, 2011 @ 10:34 am


  20. Dcmick
    December 8th, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    Gingrich is all about IDEAS, and about moving AMERICA forward.

    Gingrich is the last guy in politics invested in a trip down nostalgia lane.

    Nor are Republican voters tending towards the sentimental this electoral go ’round.

    I can understand guys dredging up anything and everything to throw and catapult upon Gingrich and all things Gingrich.  I get it.

    But it’s not smart.

    He’s the nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States.

    No one else can enter the race because they can’t get on the ballots.

    Bachmann went all bitter and shrewish in her unbalanced attacks upon her competition.

    Perry blew himself and his joke candidacy sky high.

    Cain, and his taste for female companionship, rendered his candidacy hors de combat.

    Santorum does not have winning ways, even though he has the right positions on most of the issues.

    Which leaves us with the modern Republican Ullyses Romney, endlessly pursuing his goal.

    And everybody knows, even those most earnest in supporting his candidacy, that Romney excites no one.

    Not even his wife, who they’re now trotting out constantly………

  21. Mortimer Snerd
    December 8th, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    Newt in a wheelchair, holding a white cat….

  22. Joe
    December 8th, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
  23. AngelaTC
    December 8th, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

    The Republican Party has depended on on people like you for the past 20 years. I’m finished with that. 

    Newt supports carbon taxes, the individual mandate, and a myriad of other “liberal” positions.  I don’t see where he’s significantly any different than Obama or that last loser we were supposed to vote for,  John McCain.

  24. Anonymous
    December 8th, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    How big was George Washington’s ego?

  25. Anonymous
    December 8th, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    Idea men don’t always make the best candidates to actually execute those ideas.

  26. AngelaTC
    December 8th, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    So you’re telling us, literally, that Newt is better than we, the dumbed-down rank and file, are?  Talk about your liberal position – the common folk are too stupid to know what’s best for them – it’s the elite intellectuals who must save us from ourselves. (And Newt is a staunch supporter of the Federal Education System – if we’re dumbed down, he’s partly to blame.)

    Newt wants to run government, or at least sell chinks of it to corporate America, not fix it.    He seems to think that we want a big government as long as it is run by Republicans.  I want a small government that will let us take care of our own problems, thank you very much.
    I saw the video of Newt snarking that government should allow the terrorists to attack so “we” would learn how much we need “them.”

    I don’t need him, no matter how much he’s convinced that I do. 

  27. Pathfinder
    December 8th, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

    Whoa, he actually said that?!?  Love to have a link to that video (although I’m sure my blood pressure won’t); this would be a game changer for me (I’m currently giving Gingrich a lot of benefit of the doubt, but this if verifiable to my own eyes and ears would likely amend this thinking).

  28. steve benton
    December 8th, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    Whatever you do, don’t read your Bible concerning Israel. I wouldn’t want common sense to invade your thinking pattern.

  29. ThePaganTemple
    December 8th, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

    He’s different in the kinds of judicial appointments he would make, which is all I care about.

  30. ThePaganTemple
    December 8th, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    You’re right, we should always go for the guy we’d most like to have a beer with. That’s the criterion I go by anytime I need a doctor or a lawyer, why not a President?

  31. ThePaganTemple
    December 8th, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    It’s not about the Bible its about supporting our allies and defending them from their and our enemies. The Bible is incidental, and for the most part irrelevant. Israel is a secular nation, more so even than we are. In fact, I actually support the Kahanists, who are a Jewish religious party, precisely because the present Jewish state is far too liberal and progressive, in my opinion.

  32. Right Wing Extremists: December 8, 2011 | REPUBLICAN REDEFINED
    December 8th, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    […]  In the Presence of His Newtness […]

  33. Adjoran
    December 8th, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Hmmm,  are you wearing blinders?  You really can’t “…see where he’s significantly any different than Obama…”?

    Would the DOJ and EPA operate differently?  Would the Executive Orders be different?  The lifetime judicial appointments?

    Would Newt veto the repeal of ObamaCare?

    Are you nuts?

  34. Adjoran
    December 8th, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    Anyone who supports Newt without reading the full report of James Cole, the Special Counsel to the House Ethics Committee for the Gingrich investigation will get to read it next fall as the DNC force-feeds you.

    Newt as “an idea man” is a myth propagated principally by Newt.  Do you know what “Lean Six Sigma” is?  It was a trendy management concept in the late ’80s, meant to simulate the Japanese factory efficiency which at the time was supposed to be about to take over the world.  Remember “Japan is buying America!”? 

    In any case, it was mainly a new vehicle for consultants to come in and take money from companies.  A long-term study found those who adopted the system actually trailed the S&P 500 average in growth of sales and earnings, as well as stock price.  IOW, it is pretty much complete nonsense.  One blogger who makes it his main subject has a collection of Dilbert strips on the system, which will tell you all you need to know:

  35. Newt the Progressive Futurist | The Lonely Conservative
    December 8th, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    […] picking Newt in the polls are doing so on the whole “electability” question. If so, look at these pictures and then ask yourself how he’ll do against Obama the media darling. I have yet to see a poll […]

  36. ThePaganTemple
    December 8th, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

    I don’t get it. If your point is that having ideas always equates to Lean Six Sigma, and therefore Newt, I think that’s pretty much one hell of a stretch, isn’t it? Plus those cartoons are fucking boring as hell.