We had a candidate who was attacking me about family and my younger daughter did a commercial and just said, 'it's not true and it's not accurate.' I mean, the worst things said about me are simply not true, and I think both of my daughters are quite prepared to say those things are not true. Now, that means people attacking me aren't going to have a fight with me, they're now going to have to have a fight with Jackie and Kathy, and I think that becomes pretty convincing for people.
Newt Gingrich, Marietta Daily Journal, July 31, 2011
Newt Gingrich cracks me up. Mostly because he has been rendered harmless, I suppose. But I insist on holding to some illusions. I like to believe I would still find endearing a candidate who knows he will become President because he campaigned for and eventually won the support of his two children.
It recalls more innocent times.
Back in the early 1970s, outraged Americans wrote to editors of newspapers, large and small, in support of President Nixon's policies. Opponents of the President were called unpatriotic, elitist, part of a radical minority: everything but a child of God.
We were surprised when it came out that a flurry of letters supporting the President were written by, well, the President. He personally wrote many of the letters which were then sent in the names of volunteers, members of staffs of loyalists, and fictitious names. "Don't give up, Mr. President!" wrote the President in an open letter to himself.
Yes, we were surprised. Surprised but not shocked. By that time, shock was reserved for bigger misdeeds, the sort that would lead to impeachment. Yeah those were more innocent times. Nobody thought of holding America hostage from in the Capitol Building itself. Give us what we want or we'll shoot the economy!!
In fact, the entire letter campaign from a White House supporting itself now seems, in retrospect, like a sort of precursor to the new technology that will end up fueling the destruction of the Republican Party. In those less technological times, political parties were periodically shocked by electoral defeats and shrinking membership into reevaluation. They tended toward the center, recovered, then grew again.
Today, Republican members have the ability to choose what news, and what interpretation of that news, will filter through. This is sometimes called "epistemic closure" by political types. Democrats do it too, although to a lesser degree. Liberal ideology demands evidence. Conservative philosophy does not need it. So conservatives get soothing messages as their party becomes smaller, more extreme, less hospitable to those not on the fringes, and so smaller yet again, and even more extreme, in a cycle that can go in only one direction.
In our new, very modern, conservative echo chamber, the Nixon gonna-sit-right-down-and-write-myself-a-letter campaign seems kind of quaint. The letter campaign was a tactic. The Republican race to the cliffs is a sociological phenomenon.
What brings President Nixon to mind now is the Newt interview. In talking about how the elitist media are out to get him, my favorite candidate pointed out an amazing fact, distorted by elitist media coverage:
And it says, 'now it's true that Gingrich has 1.3 million followers and (Michele) Bachmann only has 59,000, but she's getting more new people every week.' It turned out I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined, but it didn't count because if it counted I'd still be a candidate; since I can't be a candidate that can't count. So we've been a little bit like a sailing ship in the middle of a hurricane in which we are sailing straight into the teeth of the media, and that slowed us down.
Wow. Six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined. That makes a revelation by a former Gingrich staffer kind of interesting, if true. It seems the Newt campaign hired companies to create fake followers. Only a small, small fraction of all those followers are actual existing people who consciously like Newt. It's the Republican echo chamber in miniature.
Hey Hey Hey Hey. I like Newt I like NewtLike NewtNewtNewt.
I am a little disappointed in the Newt interview. Not because of the alleged fake followers. Certainly not for his campaign to win the votes of his kids. I think that's kind of cute, in a bizarro sort of way.
But the model candidate went through the entire interview, at least the part that was quoted, without using the key word that makes him a truly distinctive public figure. He didn't say m-m-m-Model.
Oh Newt, what have they done to you?
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Considering the emotional appeals and knee-jerk reactions accompanying any liberal policy, I find that statement to be as great a piece of fiction as Joe Biden's "statesmanship".
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