Green Room

Gladiator Republicans

posted at 10:26 am on January 26, 2012 by


In the current wave of generally conservative punditry on Newt Gingrich’s candidacy, a common subtext (and occasional text) is criticism not of Newt, but of his supporters:

[C]onservatives are simply out for a good time. They want to be entertained by a Gingrich-Obama slugfest in the general election debates, and they are willing to sacrifice everything — their credibility, their values and the White House — to sit in the Coliseum and watch a Christian get devoured by lions.

Blaming the electorate is rarely effective and this line of attack is no exception. In the first instance, to the extent Gingrich’s campaign is feeding on populist discontent, his supporters are unlikely to be swayed by a parade of pundits perched at big media outlets telling them they are shallow rubes. To the contrary, the implicit condescension probably fuels the underlying populist discontent. If these pundits are hoping to persuade, they are likely failing. If they are writing simply to vent their own frustration, how different are they from their stereotype of Newt’s supporters?

Moreover, on the campaign trail, Gingrich apparently comes off as far more substantive than Mitt Romney. That would not surprise me. Gingrich is nothing if not an an uncontrolled, gushing firehose of policy. Some of his ideas may not be conservative. Some of his conservative ideas may be irrelevant to the major issues facing the next president. But the notion that support for Gingrich is simply the desire to be entertained ignores the facts on the ground, which again makes for bad punditry.

The problem for these pundits is not that Gingrich is Maximus, manipulating the mob to get ahead. Their problem is that Romney is Commodus, the political heir of dubious legitimacy who tries but fails to co-opt the mob. Ironically, their Circus Maximus of criticism is being staged at the very moment when Gingrich looks to be losing momentum. It would be even more ironic if Gingrich could again turn the criticism of his supporters to his advantage.

Update: Via Twitter, I have learned that S.E. Cupp thinks it’s bad journalism on my part to not identify her as the author of the blockquote, although I did link to her article immediately beforehand. I generally like her work, and thus was loath to single her out as having written something so condescending and counter-productive. I forgot there’s no such thing as bad publicity. My apologies.

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Gingrich hasn’t lost any momentum.

Right after he won … for like a couple of days – a few polls came out saying he was way ahead in Florida.

That was only a couple of days ago and now some polls say he’s behind (by less than 10 points).

I submit that the initial polling in Florida was wrong – at least partially.

The fact is – right now, he’s within 9 points, maybe less if the statistical error travels his way.

Mitt Romney can’t just win Florida in a tight race – he’ll have to DOMINATE Gingrich there or this will be a net Newt win. Florida is Mitt’s strongest Southern state – if he doesn’t trounce Newt there – he won’t do it anywhere else in the South.

HondaV65 on January 26, 2012 at 4:13 PM

It’s not just “Romney Hate”:

It’s stand-for-nothing, say-anything politician hate!!!

Newt is the foremost “Not Romney.” There still may be room for more…but we DONT want a crammed-down “It’s My Turn” candidate” (like Bob Dole was)!!!

We need someone we can trust to REPEAL Obamacare, Shut Down the TSA, Cancel all of the anti-energy regulations, Fire all of the czars, Shut down the bailouts, Cut Spending, Repeal the light bulb ban, and veto any bill which threatens our ability to buy what we want from whomever we want.

landlines on January 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM

They don’t care about persuading us, they care about making us feel bad, making us feel isolated, and making us go home and leave the field to them. They’re also counting on Obama-hate to send the Tea Party to the polls to vote Mitt on election day regardless of how contemptuously he and his supporters treat Tea Partiers.

Doomberg on January 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM


The law of unintended consequences. THEY got rid of Palin, of Cain, of Bachmann, of Perry, and are studiously avoiding Santorum who they tried to get rid of because of how he mourned his dead child. We’ve been objecting to Romney from the get-go and have been betrayed by the politicians we elected to change things.

I haven’t a clue how they define idiot, but I’ve a very good idea how to define unspeakable arrogance. Daily strafing from Mitt’s missionaries who call names, mock religious symbols including Jesus, Himself. The “smart” people are now telling us how stupid we are and apparently expect us to get behind their boy next November.

I got very very irritated when the pundits on Fox kept telling me how I had so much in common with the derelict lefties at Occupy sites. NOT. Mitt’s advisors are telling us he can’t repeal Obamacare, which means he also can’t repeal Dodd Frank and S.E. Cupp, the athiest moralist, is now calling me stupid?

The establishment got rid of all Romney alternatives, so they’re left with the guy who knows how to blow up the bridge. I’ll follow him before I follow the guy who surrenders and I will not give up my own freedom in the name of ANY political party. I’ve voted Republican since 1964 and in every election and every primary. I’ve worked for Republican members and stuck with the conservative movement through thick and thin. I will not belong to a movement that belittles human beings who do honorable work and which demeans any opinion but their own.

And I don’t drink beer or watch Nascar or Football. I spent last Friday night at the ballet and had white wine at a little bistro afterward. How’s THAT fit in with your nasty generalization about Tea Partiers, Ms. Cupp? I despise elitism and have had it with left wing facists and will oppose right-center facists as well.

Do you all really believe there’s going to be enough independents and moderates to make up for all us stupid rubes who tried to stop Obamacare and the stimulous by attending Tea Party rallies?

Portia46 on January 26, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Newt reminds me a lot of Winston Churchill. Recently read Roy Jenkins’ “Churchill” biography (all 912 pages). A brilliant man with flaws who was written off by his own party before WWII, but a man who thought and ACTED on a grand scale, driving the less creative and daring “leaders” crazy in the process. When Great Britain faced mortal danger, they turned to Churchill. I submit: Iran (not to mention a federal government hell bent on turning the U.S. into Greece) = Hitler. We need a Churchill here, not a Romney.

… I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. . .. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival.”

Excerpt from Churhill’s speech to the House of Commons, May 13, 1940.

pacificisland on January 26, 2012 at 5:07 PM

No, it has nothing to do with “blaming” the electorate. The author was trying to make a sense of the conservative support for Gingrich, given the plain facts that Gingrich is just not conservative on issues. Not “conservative enough”, but simply not conservative at all.

Perhaps with the exception of Jon Huntsman, Gingrich has consistently been the most liberal candidate in the presidential field on a wide range of issues (never mind the personal conduct, which is more libertine than liberal). So how does anyone explain the apparent conservative support for Gingrich? Well, maybe conservatives aren’t really looking for ideological agreement, in which case they are looking for something else—and maybe that something else is entertainment.

Anyways. I’ve been calling the whole affair “temporary insanity” on the part of conservatives—in hopes that it would be temporary.

novakyu on January 26, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Trust me, it wouldn’t take a gang of minions or a sack of onions to beat you or just about any other Newt Gingrich supporter in debate, especially when the crux of your argument is based on the supposed conservativism of your candidate.

troyriser_gopftw on January 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Try this, a collection of Romney’s astounding flip-flops, click Mitt Romney – Serial Flip Flopper!. I know that similar stuff has been posted here before (even by me), but it needs to be done again. Remember, Romney didn’t flip to instant moderate until he needed to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

As to Newt, he’s embarrassed himself over the last ten years. However, he has a conservative record from the 80’s and 90’s. I’ll take Newt’s record and the hope that he’ll lead us away from Obama over Romney’s flip-flops any day.

I also seriously doubt that the ever changing Romney can win a presidential election. As much as the American people are afraid of Obama, how many independents will be willing to trust the country to Romney? Romney is aloof and seems shifty to me, and the more the general public learns about him, the less likable and trustworthy he becomes. Note that even after governing Massachusetts as a Liberal, Romney couldn’t have won a second term.

It’ll only take one or two major gaffes in the election, something along the lines of “I like to fire people” and a replay of Romney’s famous flip-flops, and many independent voters will vote for the Obama devil they know rather than a fake Romney. That many Republicans want a politician in the mold of Dukakis and Kerry – Liberal Massachusetts’ politicians who pretended to be more moderate when running for the presidency – only shows that we have a real crisis of leadership in the Republican party and America. I’ll take my chances with Newt.

Gladtobehere on January 26, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Funny–this item about “Maximus” & “Commodus” was sponsored (in my browser, anyway) by an ad for Optimus.

Olo_Burrows on January 27, 2012 at 3:50 AM

It’s really hard to tell. ALOT of Newt supporters I talk to almost first and foremost mention the debates and how he won’t take sh!t from the media. I think S.E. is actually dead on in this instance.

MNcommonsense on January 27, 2012 at 9:31 AM

mock religious symbols including Jesus, Himself.

that particular brand of fiction is inherently mockable. That’s because its silly, its stupid and the mouth breathing idiots that believe in that nonsense are delusional fools and lunatics and deserve nothing more then to held up to perpetual ridicule

Your Mamma loves me on January 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM

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