Tag Archive: Newt Gingrich

Republican presidential primary problems

Ted Cruz, clowniest passenger in the GOP Clown Car?

Ted Cruz, clowniest passenger in the GOP Clown Car?

In the 2012 Presidential primaries, the Republican Clown Car had a crackup. The GOP candidates fell all over each other to kowtow to the narrow, extreme Republican primary base (comprised, for example, in Iowa, of 60 percent Evangelical Christians). Michele Bachmann said that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation,” and Herman Cain mocked the very idea of having foreign policy knowledge. Then came Willard Mitt Romney‘s disastrous “Etch-A-Sketch” moment, in which Romney’s Communications Director dumbly asserted that, after lurching to the right in the primaries, Romney could simply “hit a reset button” for the general election, “like an Etch-A-Sketch,” as if no one would hold Romney accountable for the positions he was taking and as if the giant Memory Machine known as the Internet didn’t exist. Romney’s Etch-A-Sketch moment perfectly summed up the Republican Party’s 2012 problem. Romney’s Republican rivals such as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum pounced on the Etch-A-Sketch statement as proof that Romney could not be trusted by the GOPs conservative base. Romney ended up being trusted by no part of the electorate. Fast forward to the present day, and it appears that the GOP is poised to repeat these same mistakes of 2012.

With Republicans’ Help, Democrats Find their Voice

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment when the Republican Party began committing political suicide. It may have been when Republican Congressman Paul Ryan came up with a plan to end Medicare as we know it, and almost all Republicans in Congress signed onto the plan. Whatever that moment was, the Democrats have used the Republicans’ extremist overreaching to find their own voice, with considerable success. That Democratic narrative can be boiled down to the phrase “the Republicans don’t represent you, and we do.”

Newt Gingrich and the Republicans’ Dog Whistle Messaging

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On MSNBC’s Politics Nation” program yesterday, host Al Sharpton his guests Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post and syndicated columnist Bob Franken discussed Newt Gingrich in the videotaped segment above. After the panel viewed some recent clips of Gingrich speaking in his usual hyperbolic manner, Franken says that Gingrich “is the master of certain key words.” Franken mentions that some of Gingrich’s remarks were at a forum hosted by “Frank Luntz, who is the wordsmith of the Republican Party.” Franken goes on to say that:

He [Luntz] knows, and Newt knows, that if he says words like ‘Islamist’ and ‘Socialist’ and ‘radical’ and ‘reactionary,’ people aren’t going to really care. His followers, they used to call them ‘dittoheads’ when we were talking about Rush Limbaugh, the followers aren’t going to really listen to the substance of what he says. He knows that he can push buttons. That used to be called ‘demagoguery.’

Franken’s description of Gingrich’s use of words is a perfect encapsulation of the Republicans’ political strategy: their key to success isn’t to put forth the best ideas and then convince voters to vote for them, it’s merely to sprinkle their remarks with the right magic words (focus-group tested in advance by the likes of Frank Luntz), causing a Pavlovian emotional response, i.e., “pushing buttons”, among Republican voters. Franken calls this “demagoguery.” A simpler description would be “brainwashing”. And a more intellectually and morally bankrupt strategy is difficult to imagine.

It’s the Hypocrisy, Stupid

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie‘s ill-fated ride to his son’s baseball game on a $2,500 per hour State Police helicopter, after saying that New Jersey can’t afford a commuter train tunnel and other important services, is the latest example of hypocrisy by politicians that hits voters like a stink bomb. Some previous examples of this kind of hypocrisy include:

Messaging Maxim #3: There’s an Invention Called Video

Newt Gingrich is the latest politician to be nailed by his own words stated on camera. Gingrich seems to be stuck in a 1990s political messaging mentality. Back then, unless a dogged interviewer had the smoking gun videotape statement ready to roll, a la Michael Douglas‘ video attack on Demi Moore in the movie “Disclosure”, a politician sometimes could get away with making extreme, stupid, or wrongheaded statements, even on camera, because the footage might not swiftly get replayed.

Those days are gone, thanks to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the proliferation of media.