Posted on | January 31, 2012 | 48 Comments
Newt Gingrich in Fort Myers, Fla., Monday Jan. 30, 2012
This will be my last day here in the posh condo which Dan Collins has so generously made available as the Florida headquarters of the National Affairs Desk. Tonight I head up to Tampa to cover
RINO Fest 2012 Mitt Romney’s victory celebration, and then I must find someplace else to get a few hours sleep before leaving out from Jacksonville on Wednesday afternoon.
Before I do all that, however, I must contemplate the scapegoating, blame-shifting and excuse-making by which Newt Gingrich is attempting to provide a pre-emptive explanation of his looming defeat here in Florida. Among other things, Newt is once again pointing the finger at Rick Santorum:
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says rival Rick Santorum should take a look at the poll numbers, which show Gingrich beating him, and drop out.
“The longer conservatives stay split, the harder it’s going to be for us to [beat Romney],” Gingrich said on FOX and Friends on Tuesday. “And I think that we risk not being able to beat Obama unless we get a conservative. I have to win the nomination.”
Santorum is sapping conservative votes from Gingrich, the former House speaker said.
Oddly, Gingrich didn’t appear as principled on the subject of conservative consolidation when Santorum won Iowa and Gingrich finished fourth, nor when Santorum narrowly edged Gingrich for fourth place in New Hampshire. If he was concerned about a conservative sacrificing to make sure a conservative alternative had the strength to beat Mitt Romney at that time, Gingrich didn’t pull a muscle leaping out of his chair to volunteer.
One of the basic traits of narcissism is an ability to accept blame for one’s own failures, which leads to scapegoating, the attempt to externalize blame in order to protect the narcissist’s glorified mental self-image.
Newt came into Florida riding a wave of momentum from South Carolina and, if it is true that the Romney machine poured out an unprecedented onslaught of attack ads here, it is also true that Gingrich himself reacted badly. Gingrich had his worst two debates of the entire yearlong campaign, and seemed cranky and irritable all week. But he can’t admit his own complicity in his problems — as if Freddie Mac forced him to take that money — and so what went wrong must always be blamed on somebody else, even if that somebody is Rick Santorum, who barely campaigned in Florida.
Narcissism is a pathology closely connected to paranoia, and the spooky vibes of yesterday’s Gingrich rally in Fort Myers were enough to put me in mind of Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Watch this video in which Gingrich promotes the belief that both he and his listeners are victims of “money power”:
“We’re in a very simple campaign. We are pitting people power against money power. No question — you look at the list of top ten donors to Mitt Romney, that’s money power. That is the establishment. Those are the people who would be happy, as George Soros said, with either Obama or Romney, and they do not want a conservative. Those are the people who have led the assault on me over the last couple of weeks, by all sorts of folks whose number-one goal is to keep power in Washington the way it is now. I want you to know, I do not believe it is legitimate for the current establishment to preside over the decay as long as they’re doing well. I think we have an obligation to our children, to our grandchildren, to fundamentally change Washington and, frankly, to fundamentally change New York. We deserve to know the truth about the last four years. We deserve to know what happened to our money.”
The idea of usurpation of authority by an illegitimate, selfish, decadent plutocracy — who strive to conceal the truth about their malign manipulations — is a very familiar theme in populist demagoguery. Without denying the possibility that there are elements of truth in such a claim, the implications of this rhetoric are scary, and there is nothing Reaganesque about this kind of embittered rant against “money power,” promoting the sense of victimhood at the hands of an all-powerful “establishment.” Yesterday’s rally was the subject of my American Spectator column today:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — George Soros, Goldman Sachs, and other forces of the “establishment” are conspiring to support Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich warned Republicans here Monday, as Floridians prepared to go to the polls in their state’s crucial GOP primary.
Referring to an interview that Soros — a billionaire notorious for his funding of left-wing causes — gave to Reuters last week in Davos, Switzerland, Gingrich summarized Soros as saying, “We think either Obama or Romney’s fine, but Gingrich, he would change things.” The anti-Gingrich cabal, said the former House Speaker, also includes investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, which backed President Obama four years ago and now — having profited from taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts — is bankrolling Romney’s campaign attack ads. “Those ads are your money recycled to attack me,” Gingrich told the hundreds gathered outside Page Field airport here.
He cited no evidence that Goldman Sachs was in cahoots with Romney, and the opacity of the “super PACs” which are pumping millions into this Republican primary campaign makes it impossible either to prove or disprove Gingrich’s depiction of the malevolent forces arrayed against him. Yet he repeated similar accusations in different forums throughout the day — on ABC in the morning, on Fox News in the afternoon, and at each of the five stops on his final whirlwind tour of the Sunshine State — as if endeavoring to convince his supporters that they are victims of a vast conspiracy. Newt seemed to be providing a pre-emptive excuse for what polls indicate will be a decisive defeat for him in Tuesday’s winner-take-all primary. . . .
Read the whole thing. It is impossible for me to think that the American people will be fooled by Gingrich’s playing of the victim card, or that they will accept Gingrich’s absurd claim that he lost Florida because Rick Santorum refused to “consolidate” behind Newt’s candidacy.
I’ve got to tidy up this condo before I leave today. That could take a while, considering the deplorable conditions at the National Affairs Desk:
Don’t blame me. It was the “money power”!
- Jan. 30: UPDATE: Newt’s Populist Turn
- Jan. 29: Florida Fever: Naples Struck by Sudden Outbreak of Raging Mitt-Mania Epidemic
- Jan. 29: Steak & Eggs Morning News Round-Up: Florida GOP Voter ‘Horrified’ by Newt; Romney Opens Double-Digit Poll Lead
- Jan. 29: Herman Cain Endorses Newt Gingrich
- Jan. 28: Santorum Daughter Hospitalized
- Jan. 27: ‘Swarmin’ With Mormons’
- Jan. 27: Santorum Praised by Rush Limbaugh, Endorsed by Florida State Sen. Plakon
- Jan. 26: CNN JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA DEBATE
- Jan. 26: Fear and Loathing: Oceanfront View
- Jan. 26: Departing for Jacksonville: What’s Up Today Down in the Sunshine State?
- Jan. 25: Can Newt Be Trusted? Calls Mitt Romney ‘Anti-Immigrant’ in Spanish-Language Ad