Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dr. Gingrich and Mr. Chucky

Now, we’re done with New Hampshire. The interesting development is the blowback criticism of Newt Gingrich toward the predatory capitalist, Mitt Romney, echoed momentarily by the national nonentity, Rick Perry. Newt made a mockery (and a web address) of Mitt’s “pious baloney,” describing how Romney has been a financial firm show horse candidate since the early 1990s, not the “job creator” he poses as. And, more, pertinently, Newt went after Bain Capital, Romney’s never-ending private equity piggy bank, via his SuperPAC, Winning Our Future, funded by the usual and strange FON, a casino-owning big better. Newt talks about Bain Capital “looting” companies, adding a laundry list of the usual corporate malfeasance.

It’s been effective. Too effective for the GOP and Gingrich is under considerable pressure to walk back all his criticism. I’ll wait to see if the half-hour 60 Minute-like take down of Bain actually runs anywhere. 30 second commercials have thus far, but, again, the question is, Will they continue?

Walking back will be nothing new to Newt. He did so shortly after, rightly, condemning Paul Ryan’s Gut Medicare program as “right-wing social engineering.” Later, he said anyone using the film of him saying so would be uttering a “falsehood”, since he was now unsaying so.

But, this larger change in rhetoric came before Newt’s appearance on Meet the Press back in May charging right-wing social engineering. I suppose one must credit Frank Luntz, or one of his Republican clones. Beginning in 2011 (and perhaps earlier), Republicans started appropriating the language of progressives: so one heard Sarah Palin (remember her?) denouncing “crony capitalism”; and other Republicans were whining about the evils of “class warfare.”

The logic seemed to be: if you use the other side’s words often enough eventually you will make the words meaningless. Since the GOP has been making words meaningless for years, it seems to be a long-term strategy. I’m not sure Luntz got everyone in the Republican fold to switch out “the rich” to “job creators,” but you won’t find the phrase job creators used much before 2011.

But Gingrich, et al., took the word-appropriation business a bit too far, since he was making whole sentences of them, not just phrases and sound bites. Mitt Romney has been speaking nothing but sound bites, pious baloney as Newt pointed out.

Only when Romney goes rogue, speaks for himself, as he did last weekend, saying “I like being able to fire people...” - it didn’t matter, as he claimed, the words were taken out of “context”, because Romney said them with such obvious sincerity – does his true self shine through. Romney may well win the Republican nomination, though, given his background as the former head of a predatory investment firm (private equity), it remains as improbable, given recent history, as someone with the middle name Hussein becoming the nominee of the Democrats in 2008.

Gingrich, though, will continue his usual Jekyll and Hyde performance; but I’m hoping, to update the analogy, that he lets his Chucky side come blazing through, rather than his professorial Dr. Gingrich side, creating mayhem all the while he continues to debase our poor, battered, language pell-mell.

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