I’ve spent this morning trying to come up with a “Tora! Tora! Tora!” reference for this claim, and I just can’t quite make it:
Newt Gingrich’s campaign director said the candidate is viewing the setback in Virginia, in which he failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the state’s primary, as an “unexpected setback” similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941,” campaign director Michael Krull wrote on the Gingrich Facebook page. “We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action. Throughout the next months there will be ups and downs; there will be successes and failures; there will be easy victories and difficult days – but in the end we will stand victorious.”
As any historian of any consequence could attest, “Pearl Harbor” isn’t synonymous with “unexpected set-back.” It’s a deeply ingrained cultural reference for sneak attacks and shameful acts of aggression. Dieppe was an “unexpected setback.” Gallipoli was an “unexpected setback.” And both Dieppe and Gallipoli were self-inflicted unexpected setbacks, which makes them a lot more analogous to Gingrich’s flop in Virginia.
I’m curious as to who the Japanese Empire is in Team Gingrich’s Pearl Harbor scenario. It can’t be the Republican Party of Virginia, although there have been plenty of accusations that the VA GOP somehow gamed their process to shake out non-Establishment candidates. Maybe Rick Perry can make that claim, but Gingrich is about as establishment as they come in this primary. He’s certainly more establishment than Mitt Romney, who has not spent a great deal of time in Washington, at least not officially, while Gingrich has been a Beltway player for more than three decades. Gingrich also hails from Virginia, which one might think the VA GOP might favor, at least over a Northeastern Republican and a Texas crank like Ron Paul, both of whom qualified for the ballot. And when one looks at the VA GOP website, what have they been promoting for the last couple of weeks in the top spot on the page? A December 22nd fundraising breakfast with …. Newt Gingrich.
Tommy Christopher notes that this isn’t the first time Gingrich has used Pearl Harbor for some self-promotion:
The campaign’s statement combines the bombast of his campaign’s tendency for overwrought statements, and the candidate’s own ham-fisted history of trivializing exactly this moment in history.
Last year, Gingrich used the occasion of Pearl Harbor Day to plug his books on Twitter, when he chirpily tweeted, “The 69th anniversary of the japanese attack is a good time to remind folks of our novels pearl harbor and days of infamy newt.”
Gingrich later deleted the tweet without explanation.
No explanation needed, really. Gingrich missed the best analogy for this failure, which was the collapse of his own campaign earlier this year. If he wanted an example of an “unexpected set-back” followed by a revival, Gingrich simply could have used that … but I doubt he wanted to remind anyone of that particular set-back.
Update: I originally wrote “Northeastern liberal” to describe Romney, but that’s unfair. I think “moderate” would be a better descriptor, but I’ll just change it to Northeastern Republican, with which Virginia Republicans likely would have the same issues.