Republican Revenge Fantasies

I think Ross Douthat is on to something when he argues that Newt Gingrich is playing to Republican revenge fantasies about outsmarting, and out-orating, Barack Obama. He writes:

Ever since the 2008 election, the right has embraced a sweeping counternarrative, in which the president’s eloquence is a myth and his brilliance a pure invention. Take away his campaign razzle-dazzle and his media cheering section, this argument goes, and what remains is a droning pedant, out of his depth and tongue-tied without a teleprompter.

This is where Gingrich comes in. Just as Kerry’s candidacy represented an attempt to effectively out-patriot George W. Bush (“You have a war president? We have a war hero!”), the former speaker has skillfully played to the Republican desire for a candidate who can finally outsmart and out-orate Obama.

His promise to challenge the president to a series of Lincoln-Douglas debates, in particular, has been deliberately framed as a kind of professor versus professor showdown, in which the president’s weaknesses will finally be exposed.

“How does a Columbia-Harvard graduate, who was the editor of the law review … supposedly the best orator in the Democratic Party,” Gingrich asked recently, “how does he look himself in the mirror and say he’s afraid to debate a West Georgia College professor?” It’s a line that evokes a kind of conservative revenge fantasy, in which the liberal elitists who sneered at George W. Bush’s malapropisms and Sarah Palin’s “you betchas” receive their richly deserved comeuppance at the hands of Newton Gingrich, Ph.D.

But a fantasy is all it is.

Read the rest here.


  • yankeegospelgirl

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gingrich would make a smart, effective leader of our country. Certainly vastly more so than our current dear leader. But I just can’t in good conscience vote for a man who’s not personally honorable.

  • Christiane

    Quoting Douthat’s article:

    “He Gingrich) might implode spectacularly, making a hot mess of himself while the president keeps his famous cool.”

    I remember Gingrich from years ago. Lots of people do. Including Republicans who worked with him. Might be a good idea to listen to those people who worked with him . . . not that a person can’t change, mind you, but before a major Christian denomination signs on to support a candidate, would be a very good idea to take a really good look at that candidate, and that includes his past, his dealings with people, his reputation, and his pattern of behavior when ‘in power’.

    Or, better yet, major Christian denominations might want to avoid the politics of personality altogether, and focus on the issues. . . is that too much to hope for ?

  • Richard

    If Gingrich gets the nomination he would be absolutely ripped to shreds by Obama and his campaign machine. He thinks wayyyyy too highly of himself.

  • Paula

    Unfortunately, many just want a candidate who can smack down Obama. They’re willing to overlook both his character flaws and his less-than-stellar conservative credentials. For example, he doesn’t believe that life begins at conception (he believes it starts at implantation); he has backed federally funded stem cell research, and has a penchant for big government solutions to his pet projects. Rather than being wary of big government, he just thinks it needs a smarter administrator. Someone like him. But right now, he’s telling people what they want to hear and they’re buying it. Same mistake people made with Obama last time around.

  • Paul

    “This is one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration. The more successful they’ve been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we’re in danger…. It’s almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.”
    ~Newt Gingrich, at a book talk in Huntington, NY, April 2008

    If Newt gets the nod, I am assuming that the DNC only needs to run one commercial, over and over again, with this quote and a picture of Newt snarling. Republicans will stay home and Obama will win all 50 states.

  • donsands

    Newt isn’t New, but he is the same old same old, spend, and amke government big. He likes to look good, and he is into himself. I don’t trust him as far as could kick him.
    Good post.
    Ron Paul would beat Obama, and would actually be a fine President. Hopefully we will have such a leader, and perhaps even his son, Rand would run soon in the future.
    Barak is arrogant, and is little by little destroying our economy, and in so doing is socializing our nation, as Newt might not do as much, but Newt surely would continue the socializing of spending Trillions of $$$$$$.
    I did pray for Barak today, as my pastor prayed for him, and our VP, and all our leaders. Lord bless America, and have mercy on us, for Your glory, and our children’s sake. Amen.

  • Christiane

    My question is this:

    IF Republicans were so turned off by Obama,
    WHY didn’t they find someone of intelligence, experience, AND integrity to run against him?

    Honestly, the Democrats are even shocked by the Republican field this year . . .

    two years to get someone on board who would be a viable, acceptable candidate . . .
    TWO YEARS going into a third year, and now a fourth

    I am left wondering . . . either the potential candidate that might have come forward feels that he cannot beat Obama, and is going to wait until 2016 to run;

    or, all the stuff that was thrown at Obama wasn’t sincere, and the Republicans trust him a little bit more than they are letting on right now . . . bad economy and all that, you know . . . maybe they want Obama to ride out his time, obstructed at all turns, until 2016 ?

    (I don’t know the ‘WHY’, but the whole country is just amazed at the Republican field.)

  • Scott

    So far in this thread we’ve learned that Obama is socializing the country and that global warming is a hoax. Can I get a birther in this thread?!?

  • Paul

    Our nation was already well on its path toward socialization, and put there by presidents with awesome names like Lincoln (greatly reduced the notion of states’ rights), Eisenhower (national infrastructure) and Bush II. So, claiming that the country is being socialized is a charge that needs to be levied with a huge mirror in tow.

  • Patrick Schreiner

    I usually love Douthat, but I think he is way off here. Gingrich is the opposite of Obama. Although he can debate well I don’t think he is a “great orator” as Obama is. Rather he is a great debater because he knows so much. (His voice actually comes off as kind of snobbish and annoying, but it is what he says that people like, not how he says it.)

    Secondly, although the left might claim that Obama is really smart, I think even they realize deep down that he was not elected because of his brains. He was elected because he did not make mistakes in his campaign, he is smooth, he gave them hope, and he told them what they wanted to hear.

  • Barry Applewhite

    I think Mr. Douthat’s analysis is on target. But Newt is not the only Republican candidate talking big. (Take Rick Perry, for example. Please take Rick Perry!) They generally sound like they believe the United States elects a king rather than a president whose powers are limited by our Constitution.

    To hear the Republican candidates talk, they will simply issue a series of decrees on day one and a whole host of things will appear or disappear. The health care law will vanish; federal departments will race into a black hole; tax laws will be totally revised, and we will all be prosperous. But we do not elect a king (thank God). We will elect another person who must get their policies passed in Congress. Good luck with that if we also keep putting all these radicals on the right and left back into Congress.

    You have to wonder why better qualified people have decided not to run for the Republican nomination. Some good ones gave it a miss this time. Instead we got a crew who are trying to say what they have to say without laughing. Not easy!

    Our partisan districts produce radicals, and that is all we get in the primaries.

    We need to go back to the political center. (The real Ronald Reagan — not the mythical one — knew that.) If not, we are headed for worse trouble than we have yet seen.


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