No foolin’. After two and a half days of withering criticism from every corner of conservative media, from talk radio to print publications to right-wing blogs various and sundry, Team Newt’s strategy now is to shrug off the attacks as … typical D.C. insider ruling-class folly.
We’re all RINOs now, my friends.
When asked by The Huffington Post about media coverage this past week, Gingrich press secretary Rick Tyler fired off a response blasting the political and media elite.
“The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding,” Tyler wrote. “Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.”
This reads like some sort of generic statement his team prepared months ago to be rolled out as necessary if/when the media zeroed in on him but which they forgot to update for the present circumstances. For starters, there’s no one in the race, Barack Obama included, who’s more of a D.C. insider than Newt. In an alternate reality, in fact, that would be one of his selling points — that he knows how things work in Washington so there’ll be no learning curve if we elect him. Two: The whole reason he’s under fire is because, unlike Ryan, it seems he’s not “ready to take on the challenges America faces.” At a moment when conservatives are desperate to repair the country’s fiscal damage, his big contributions thus far are (a) sneering at Ryan on national TV for engaging in social engineering, much to the delight of Democratic ad-makers, and (b) allegedly telling Republicans on the Hill that they shouldn’t “be messing with entitlements.” When I think “disrupting a comfortable world,” I … don’t think Gingrich. Three: The bit about establishment cocktail parties is so trite — and so guaranteed to offend his conservatives critics who love to toss it at liberals and RINOs like yours truly — that it now almost seems like he’s trying to antagonize conservative media. Who does he think is attacking him because they’re secretly fretting about their inclusion in the Georgetown social scene? Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin? Good lord. (See you at the next Frum shindig, fellas!)
Old theory: Gingrich tweaked Ryan to pander to seniors but misjudged the ferocity of the backlash and then frantically tried to undo his critique. New theory, per his spokesman’s statement: Gingrich actually wants to lose, for reasons unfathomable to me. Anyone care to hazard an explanation? While you ponder, via Mediaite, here he is on Greta last night insisting that he’s now walked his initial criticism back to the point that Democrats would be engaged in falsehood if they merely quoted it. Huh?
Update: The spokesman’s bizarre, tone-deaf rant is now officially the meme du jour among D.C. politicos. The guy’s reduced himself to a laughingstock.
Update: Tomorrow’s show should be good:
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh responded sarcastically this afternoon to a suggestion from Newt Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler that Gingrich’s critics — Limbaugh prominent among them — are simply members of an elite Beltway cocktail party circuit.
“Actually, I am part of the constitutional, free market, individual liberty circuit,” Limbaugh said in an email to POLITICO.
A good point from Ace: The spokesman’s statement really is a perfect illustration of Rich Lowry’s point that Newt seems incapable of polite disagreement, even with his own side. If you’re against him, only a lambasting will do. Even if it’s ruinous to his electoral prospects.