[See also: So Near, And Yet So Far: That South Carolina Debate and America's Immigration Disaster, by Peter Brimelow]
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich's entire career has been spent cultivating the ostensible hatred of the people he is trying to serve and the very real love of the people he seeks to deceive. Paradoxically, by earning the hatred of the Main Stream Media and the liberal (and even Establishment Conservative) elites, Gingrich has gained street credibility among grassroots conservatives. But when it comes to policies, Gingrich has been distinguished by his extraordinary ability to not only betray his base (typical of Republicans), but by his enthusiasm in actually seeking out opportunities to do it.
Unfortunately, as shown by Gingrich’s blowout victory in South Carolina, his strategy is still working.
Gingrich won South Carolina because of his image as a fighter, a combative champion for a conservative base that has been radicalized by four years of Obama and is aching for the kind of the hard-hitting campaign John McCain refused to wage.
Gingrich skillfully used the last two debates to win over these angry conservatives. Thus on January 16th, Juan Williams asked if Newt Gingrich would concede that his comments about blacks wanting “jobs, not food stamps” and “poor kids lack[ing] a strong work ethic” were, at the least, insensitive to black Americans. Gingrich fixed him with the expression of bemused contempt he has come to master and said: “No, I don’t see that.”
The audience, perhaps stunned that he didn’t immediately back down, erupted in cheers. Predictably, Gingrich immediately turned the discussion about the problem of janitors’ unions leading to the downfall of the nation.
Nonetheless, Williams foolishly pressed the point, telling Gingrich that “my email account and twitter account have been inundated by people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities”. The crowd erupted in boos. Gingrich again defended himself without retreat, stating “I know that among the Politically Correct you are not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.”
He received a standing ovation.
Despite conservative excitement, Gingrich was essentially serving up the same kind of movement boilerplate about unions and high taxes being responsible for all of America’s woes. But Gingrich at least didn’t prostrate himself to the usual Republican extent. Earning the condemnation of the affirmative action commentariat was certainly a badge of honor.
Then Gingrich had a repeat performance at January 19’s CNN debate. Incredibly, he managed to utilize a scandal about his personal life to his advantage. Just before the debate, ABC News resurrected an old story by reporting the former Marianne Gingrich’s allegation that Newt had requested an open marriage so he could carry on his affair with his current wife Callista.
ABC’s decision was despicable for three reasons. First, the network forced an already suffering Republic to consider our triple-chinned former Speaker’s unconventional sex life. Second, ABC was obviously engaging in the kind of shamefully overt bias in reporting that that has turned “liberal media” into a cliché. Finally, and most importantly, the attack enabled Gingrich to exploit the Republican base’s utter contempt for MSM reporters. Many conservatives obviously said “Newt may be a sleaze—but he’s our sleaze”.
CNN’s John King made it easy for Newt by beginning the most recent Republican debate with a question about Gingrich’s marriage and asking if he’d like to comment. Gingrich responded: “No, but I will,” leading to a roar of approval and setting up a lecture by the Speaker on the perfidy of the liberal media that is “protecting” Barack Obama. The crowd ate it up.
In contrast, Mitt Romney stuck to his usual cautious strategy. He gave a disastrous answer of “maybe” when he was asked to release his tax returns. When the crowd booed, Romney appeared to smirk. In other words, during a powerful populist moment in American politics, Romney has seemingly chosen to double down on his image as the unapologetic candidate of the “one percent”.
The Conservative Establishment has decisively sided against Newt Gingrich (exemplified by Mark Steyn’s December 31 National Review hit piece on the Speaker). But Gingrich picked up the endorsements of Rick Perry and Chuck Norris. The result is that a Gingrich campaign has now become a way to signal opposition to nefarious “elites” of all stripes—in the liberal media, Republican establishment, and the degenerate Conservative Establishment.
Sarah Palin’s call to vote for Gingrich in South Carolina “in order to keep this thing going” cleverly caught the feeling of most Republican primary voters that they were being dragooned into supporting a choice that has already been made for them.
Now Gingrich has succeeded in securing the long-sought position as the “anti-Romney”. In just a few days, he turned what was expected to be a close contest into a thirteen point blowout.
It’s very impressive. But all it means is that Gingrich has accomplished an epic bait and switch of Republican voters.
When even National Review is dedicating entire issues to calling Gingrich a phony, pointing out the holes in Newt’s record seems almost superfluous.
However, it should be noted that Gingrich has been particularly awful on immigration—even during this campaign cycle. Gingrich has given passionate soliloquies about mythical “grandmothers and grandfathers” who allegedly are being deported on a regular basis. Gingrich makes the usual noises about the supposed difficulty of legal immigration. Most bizarrely, he endorses an utterly unworkable system of citizen panels to give illegals permanent residency—seemingly with the goal of keeping illegals in the country to be used for cheap labor but somehow denying them voting rights. Of course, without confronting birthright citizenship, such a proposal does nothing to stop the demographic transformation of America and the eventual extinction of a conservative Republican Party and the historic American nation.
Gingrich also goes above and beyond in the usual pandering and cowardice on race when it comes to policy. He supposedly champions English as an official language—but is a passionate advocate of Puerto Rican statehood. He sponsors Hispanic forums and Spanish language publications that openly call for more immigration into the United States. Significantly, he has earned the support of Somos Republicanos, a supposedly Republican Hispanic group that doesn’t seem to do anything except attack patriotic Republicans. He not only pals around with racial racketeers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, he attacks even black Republicans who criticize them. He claims to be a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution, but against the wishes of President Reagan, he championed sanctions on South Africa, with the absurd rationale that Republicans needed the black vote. (Note: it didn’t work).
And, perhaps more than any other person in this country, Newt Gingrich is responsible for the astonishing conservative retreat on racial preferences and the continued existence of an anti-white racial spoils system in jobs and education.
Gingrich not only does everything he can to destroy his conservative constituency; he has actively attacked leaders like Pat Buchanan who attempt to defend it. Given Gingrich’s self-created view of himself as a world historical figure and “teacher of civilizing principles”, it appears he does not want to challenge the egalitarian zeitgeist but to lead it.
Nonetheless, despite Gingrich’s lifetime of treason, cynicism, and cowardice, grassroots conservatives supported him because of style rather than substance. In the tribal politics of the Republican primary, Gingrich is a champion of the conservative activist against the cosmopolitan elites.
More than that, conservatives view the hysterical charges of racism from the likes of Bill Maher and Andrew Sullivan as proof of Gingrich’s sincerity. The more Gingrich is attacked as a racist, the more conservatives rally to defend him—and paradoxically, the more Gingrich can deviate from even the pretense of standing up for the historic American majority.
Thus, Gingrich has already begun his Florida campaign with Spanish language ads attacking Romney as anti-immigrant and (absurdly) pro-Castro.
In contrast, Romney is suffering the negative effects of a relatively strong (compared to the others) position on illegal immigration without reaping any of the benefits. He has been condemned by Somos Republicanos and the usual lefty groups as anti-immigrant. He lost the possibly critical endorsement of former Florida governor Jeb Bush because he doesn’t sufficiently champion the eradication of American culture.
Most critically, despite some praise by former Congressman Tom Tancredo, grassroots conservatives have not rallied to Romney. Internalizing the enemy propaganda, grassroots conservatives only seem capable of recognizing and championing immigration patriotism when it is part of a larger combative package. As a result, Romney lost the votes of conservatives but won the votes of liberals, moderates, the rich, and Tea Party opponents. Conservatives want a fighter, not a CEO. As long as a candidate says he is against Obama, they don’t seem to care (or understand) what someone is actually fighting for.
South Carolina was agonizing for immigration patriots. Gingrich has exploited the purely reactionary instincts of the base to seize the mantle of conservative champion.
“True Conservatism” now represents a populist style, rather than a series of principles or policy positions. Absent that kind of confrontational approach, Romney’s relatively strong position on (illegal) immigration is not paying electoral dividends.
The only positive to be found: Republicans are clearly looking for a champion who will scorn the MSM and its shibboleths, attack the President and his assault on traditional America, and dismiss the Republican (and “Conservative”) Establishment that has dictated terms for far too long.
Gingrich, unbelievably, seems to be the only candidate embracing this kind of approach. But it could be more profitably exploited by a populist patriot who cares about his country. Unfortunately, such a figure has not appeared, at least not this election cycle.
Gingrich should be condemned for his hypocrisy and opportunism. But he is not solely responsible for this sorry situation. The Beltway Right has undercut any attempt to make immigration patriotism a plank of movement conservatism and ruthlessly enforced leftist egalitarian dogma within its ranks.
Now the official Movement intelligentsia is beginning to panic at the prospect of Gingrich. Reportedly, a lot of this is personal—they know Newt and just can’t stand him.
But, on substance, it’s hard to see why they’re so worried. In Gingrich, they have someone who makes the right noises to the rubes but then carries out the cheap labor agenda of the corporate elite. The rubes have the words, but no action. They have the rhetoric of resistance, but the substance of surrender. Isn’t that what they’ve wanted the entire time?
The real question is whether the conservative grassroots will find out that they’ve been had. And, if so, what they will do about it.