Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mississippi, Alabama, and More -- and, Newt Sees Conspiracies

My Plum Line wrap is up. I'm afraid I said what I seem to always say: we stay on the same path, Romney is going to be the nominee unless some external unpredictable major shock happens, but this part of the fight will continue for at least a while.

So I want to talk about Newt Gingrich's message just a bit. Newt's basically peddling a conspiracy theory: the "elite media" (whatever that is) and the GOP establishment have conspired to select a "Massachusetts moderate," but ordinary grass roots Republicans like him with his ordinary grass roots money and his outsider history are going to stop them. Now, put aside how silly it is that a guy propped up with Super PAC money is going around bragging about his small donors, or how the former Speaker who has lived in the Washington DC area for over thirty years is claiming to be an outsider, but consider the message.

Isn't it, as someone might say, profoundly and fundamentally dangerous to the GOP? He's basically saying that the nominee is completely illegitimate, isn't he? Now, here's the thing. I don't believe that it matters very much if a few Newt dead-enders, if there are such folks wind up buying his latest snake oil; it might be a minor negative for eventual nominee Romney, but it's balanced out by having Newt (and Santorum) constantly and visibly calling him out as a moderate -- a minus for now, but presumably a plus in November.

But I do think it's a dangerous idea to begin spreading within the party. So: has it spread beyond Newt? Are talk radio hosts, Tea Party leaders, and other high-visibility Republican leaders are echoing Newt's conspiracy theories? Anyone know?

13 comments:

  1. Although I agree nothing has changed in terms of Romney (very likely) being the eventual nominee, it remains newsworthy that he is incapable of expanding his coalition significantly such that be becomes the consensus nominee.

    ReplyDelete
  2. To me it looks like Gingrich is presenting his analysis of publicly known events. I don't understand why you consider it a 'conspiracy theory'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect that's because it pushes a few Tea party paranoia buttons. Many people think that once the Republican party selects its candidate, the base will fall in line and turn out like they did in 2010, because they hate Obama. Jonathan's been floating this idea that if the hard core Republicans are convinced that Mitt bought the election, or is otherwise illegitimate, that they might not come out.

      Jonathan, how was the GOTV handled on the right in 2010? Was it primarily churches? Were there an exceptional number of older folks out, or did they just win because the left stayed home?

      Delete
    2. My impression is that the GOP won both because of solid GOP turnout and poor Dem turnout. I've read that 1/3 of 2008 voters didn't turnout, and that the young were particularly unlikely to turnout. Overall turnout was comparable to 2006.

      Delete
  3. Do you think Romney's failure in Mississippi and Alabama, after raising expectations somewhat (and leaving him still ofer in the Confederate south - ex Florida, which doesn't really count) increases the probability of a splinter, destructive-to-the-GOP Gary Bauer-type candidacy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Well, Virginia is also from the confederate south, though it also arguably doesn't demographically bear on the question at hand.

      Delete
    2. Virginia also doesn't really count because Romney was running unopposed--Santorum and Gingrich didn't make the ballot.

      Delete
  4. Maybe Newt is laying the groundwork for a third party/independent run when he fails to win the nomination? That would make things interesting in a number of Southern states that otherwise are sure bets to go Republican.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Forgive my asking this, Mr Bernstein, but if you don't watch broadcast news and you don't listen to GOP opinion leaders, aren't you missing out on a significant part of the political conversation? Sure, the quality of the discussion is wretched and sometimes obviously delusional - but it does create the political narrative for the part of the American people who watch it. Doesn't this come under the category of things that might interest political scientists and commentators?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've always taken Jon's thesis that "the party decides" seriously since it's based on historical data. But this year, it's starting to look different. I think I hear rumblings of revolt against the choice of Romney--it isn't open revolt yet, but how long are we going to ignore the rumblings?

    Newt is right that the base is still ticked off at the establishment, but he's in a pipedream if he thinks he'll be the champion chosen by the little guys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, wrong link above. Here's the correct link .

      Delete
    2. Oops, wrong link above. Here's the correct link .

      Delete
  7. I'm not sure it rises to that level. Newt is engaging in classic argumentative techniques. He's making the "silent majority" argument that is common on both sides, albeit he's talking about the majority of Republicans. He's presenting an alternate theory of why he's doing poorly other than "people don't like Newt Gingrich." He's appealing to commonly held beliefs amongst the right: the media are liberally biased, and the party elites are moderates.

    If these are poisonous to the GOP, then how is the tea party faction supposed to participate in party politics? You can never really make the argument that "we lost because nobody else agrees with us." That fails to rally anyone to your side. And, if the name of your game is actually bringing people to your side, you have to present them an argument to come over. Reality (not in an ideological sense, but in the sense of why Newt's actually losing) isn't going to fly; so you sell pipe dreams, in the hope that the folks inclined to believe those come to you.

    Is it kinda desperate? Yep. Is it snake oil? Absolutely. Is Newt the wrong person to try to sell this? Probably (though he sells anger very well). But, is it harmful to the party? Only if contests for influence in the party are harmful.

    Is it harmful if enviros say that industrial unions have too much pull in the Dem Party because of their money? Is it harmful if a Dem says that the DLC was too influential?

    Ignore the toxicity of the messenger: the message isn't that bad. It's the messenger that's just, just awful.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?