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Of course you realize, this is Newtiny

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Some unseen and unforeseen harmonic convergence has put the state of Georgia into a prominent position in national politics she has not occupied since the Carter years. The insurgent Cain is a homeboy well known to other crackers. Media conceit that he has “come from nowhere” is somewhat insulting. The Fair Tax is a baroque scheme, probably preferable to our current tax system, that has been a local hobbyhorse for a decade. Only now are Cain and its other champions bringing it to the country at large. Our new immigration laws which are typical of those sweeping through state legislatures have drawn international litigation and news scrutiny. Our media market, a piffle compared to the coastal giants has never the less birthed some prominent voices like Hannity (sorry, America) and the croaking Libertarian Neal Boortz who are now heard and (thankfully, less often) seen on ubiquitous airwaves. But our most famous export has been a clinker. That is a garden gnome cast in the fires of Kennesaw Mountain by what hand we know not. Of course this is that fellow with the Smeagol smile whose mother called Newt.

Mr Gingrich is no debutant. His fame, all remember, was secured when he was Speaker of the House. He won prominent victories against the Arkansas Hustler; the Man from Hot Springs and as such earned the loyalty if not the affections of those who saw the Clinton years as a, um, stain on the country’s highest office. But Bill and Newt were not exactly polar opposites. Gingrich did not loathe the Clinton style so much as aspire to it. As for the legislative outcomes, although there were some tense moments it was plain that Clinton, unlike Obama, would not ride his declared ideology into a wood chipper. The welfare reforms that are now a Clinton Triumph were of course Newtonian ideas. Gingrich’s success in turning the House Republican forced (or allowed) Bill to operate as the soft-sell Reaganite he was as a governor. Perhaps now he and Hillary breathe a silent word of thanks that Hillarycare never survived its gestation and that Newt had a hand in that abortion. Newt and Clinton shared an orbit; Bill the Gas Giant and Newt the White Dwarf. Certainly we know which one was most visible in the night sky, but with careful observations one could detect Newt, tugging predictably at that gyrating, luminous behemoth. It was on personal accounts that Newt really revealed himself though. Famously he complained of being slighted by his seat assignment towards the rear of Air Force One. While gabbering about Clinton’s misdeeds and crimes he was engaged in tawdry misdeeds of his own. He, at least, withdrew from public life in contrast to Clinton but one could certainly wonder if this was a principled and sincere bout of self-flaggelation or merely a tactical ploy; a longterm plan to rehabilitate his public persona with the highest office the ultimate prize. Would a President Gingrich have resigned as he sought Clinton to do? Or would he have brazened it out as Clinton famously succeeded in doing? Few Newt watchers can doubt that the prospects for success and advancement ruled Newt’s actions then as they do now.

But the SS Gingrich, newly re-launched has struck an uncharted reef before it could paddle out of the sound. For all the firsts Newt likes to tout, this is a doozy. Loyal readers know whom I address with the term “gunslingers”, these are the political pros; the pollsters, the muckrackers, the image consultants, the ward heelers, the granny wranglers, the so-called and so compensated “experts” on all things electoral. Karl Rove is exemplary. So is James Carville. Each are near the top of the industry. That our politics has become a farm team for talking head krillionaires is distressing but it doesn’t look like that state of affairs is changing any time soon. Before a real, straight talking and plain thinking candidate can appeal to the body of the people without perfect hair and focus-grouped answers our circumstances will have to deteriorate mightily yet. Luckily this is occurring but in the mean time we have political “brands” put forward with all the machination and virtue of a new Coke product and the caste of gunslingers is doing all the forwarding.

As a seasoned pro, Newt corralled and branded the finest team he could afford and assemble. Our ex-governor, Sonny Perdue was in there. Newt’s long time political partner Rick Tyler also and this was, until the fatal day, a company man and that company was Newt Inc. Thanks to Anthony Weiner, Newt’s new best friend, the story of nautical mishap didn’t really make it into our consciousness as it otherwise would. Newt, quite freshly off his declaration as a candidate, took an opulent Mediterranean cruise with third wife Callista. Now, it is true that the sitting President is traveling perpetually, in grand style and at the public expense. At least Newt was spending his own money (or campaign money… it’s little fuzzy) but the public story or the public timeline at least reveals that the entirety of Newt’s stable of advisers warned against it. Not only does the conspicuous consumption itself look gratuitous to an unemployed nation, the timing is abysmal. And that event coincided with the public learning that Newt, successful author and wealthy in his own right, has a revolving credit account with luxury jeweler Tiffany that has been as high as half a million dollars.

So, needless to say, Newt’s populist credentials, never impressive, were basically shot. That probably wouldn’t have precipitated ALL the rats deserting the ship, at least not simultaneously, had Newt not also blown a few crucial bits of navigation. Quite nearly his first statement as a bonafide candidate was to denounce the newly announced Ryan Plan as “rightwing social engineering”. Now, that burp could be a legitimate characterization of Ryan’s wan (and doomed) attempt to keep entitlements from fiscal implosion… from Dennis Kucinich! Is there any doubt that a Gingrich plan (so far, unseen) would be at least as “rightwing” and at least as engineered as Ryan’s recasting of these giant Ponzi schemes into block grants? For one thing, the plan is in large part patterned on Newt’s welfare reforms! The truth was quite plain to any experienced Newt watcher. This was political, which is not to say this was an attempt to mold policy to its best form, rather it was a tactical political maneuver meant to weaken the upstart Ryan with his accursed dreamy eyes, height and youthful energy while strengthening the rancid Gingrich with “the middle”; that mostly mythical realm where everyone is in favor of splitting the baby in two.

It would be comforting to think that it was some high-minded consideration like this that prompted the exodus of gunslinging rats but in truth it seems unlikely. The gunslinging tribe in true capitalist fashion work for themselves first. Yes, they claim to one fork of our political river or the other but money talks and bullshit walks here as in any other high-flying cubicle farm. There is only one explanation for this event that resembles nothing so much as a corporate management walkout. The career of the gunslinger rests on one of two questions and if they are lucky they get right answers to both. Those questions, asked of the candidate in public and in the black privacy of their own minds, are Could he win? and Should he win? The dream is an affirmative in each case. After the fact, of course, the winners declare they knew both those answers all along. But in deciding whom to sign on with or REMAIN signed on with, the hired hand needs at least one solid yes. If he CAN win but possibly shouldn’t, well, the guy, like Rove, who is attached to the winner of course becomes a big winner himself. Piglet (Rove) has become an Elder Statesman in the parasitic nation of the gunslingers, not to mention his lucrative media presence. He is the Shaq of this game and the benchwarmers emulate him where they can. Those further down the ladder who have been saddled by those who plausibly SHOULD win but cannot are still well placed, having a tasty entry on their resume’ and a place in the hearts of the dedicated fans of the losers who, after all, get little opportunity to disappoint them.

So what, then, of the Gingrich Mutiny? This was a simultaneous, no-notice departure of, as is reported, sixteen of Newt’s senior staff! while the boss man was literally at sea. More revealing still, these ravenous free agents didn’t even have other jobs lined up. As far as I can tell, not a one of them did. Now, if the whole crowd had packed up their daggers and listening devices and de-camped for Texas and the Rick Perry juggernaut we could assume this was an outright attack by Perry on what he sees as either his greatest foe (plausible) or a target of opportunity. But of course even that did not occur. Something has happened, friends. Something has been revealed. It was something so dreadful that even these professional cannibals discovered unanimously and all at once that Gingrich COULD NOT win and even more importantly SHOULD NOT win. This wasn’t precipitated by a reasoned analysis of Newt’s many flaws. There is no news there. It seems quite unlikely that it was a shock at some Newtian declaration, however mad, that caused a newfound appreciation for the Constitution and our ancient liberties. Not with this crowd. But clearly, it was something that even the dunderhead Perdue could not countenance. It was something so clearly terrible and uncorrectable that our most cunning and preening breed of cur recoiled in disgust and went howling in terror. In a pack.

Someday perhaps this horror will be revealed but for now it is enough that we have seen and heard the mutts’ reaction. We ignore it at our mortal peril for despite all science, precedent and reason to the contrary….. The Gingrich LIVES!


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