Why Gingrich Can't Win

Newt's delusions of grandeur aren't enough to land him in the White House.

Newt Gingrich has a lot going for him if he decides to run for president—a famous name, a record of accomplishment, a knack for raising money, and a rhetorical flair that appeals to his party's conservative base. It's almost enough to make you forget his central handicap, which is that he is Newt Gingrich.

Succeed Barack Obama in the White House? Given his latest news making, he has a better chance of replacing Charlie Sheen in "Two and a Half Men."

The chief problem is not that Gingrich has been through two divorces and is married to a woman with whom he was having an affair while married to his second wife. Last week, he did himself no good by attributing his lapses to excessive work and patriotism. But Americans don't care that much about sexual probity in politicians.

They elected Bill Clinton after Gennifer Flowers came forward to say she had an affair with him. Following his impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he left office with the highest approval rating of any outgoing president going back to Dwight Eisenhower.

No, Gingrich suffers from a worse flaw: He is a demagogue, and demagogues don't get elected president of the United States. They get TV attention, they sometimes get big crowds, they even win the occasional primary. But their only essential function is to fail.

The presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, in a telephone conversation, says demagoguery can be defined as "extremism married to flamboyance, and it helps if you have delusions of grandeur." Those qualities, conspicuous in Gingrich, have shown up in other demagogues who aspired to the White House.

There was Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who railed against "anarchists" and "pseudo-intellectuals" while threatening treason charges for antiwar protesters. In 1968, he got 13 percent of the vote and carried five Southern states—a strong showing for a third-party candidate, but nothing more.

There was Pat Buchanan, who ran in the Republican primaries in 1992 and 1996 excoriating gays, atheists, and illegal immigrants, winning New Hampshire on his second try. But in the end, Republican voters overwhelmingly went for establishment candidates.

So poorly have rabble-rousers fared in actual presidential contests that they rarely even show up anymore, except in peripheral roles—as with Republican Alan Keyes and Democrat Al Sharpton. There is no market for them.

The Republican Party, for all its conservative bent, has consistently passed up hard-core right-wingers in favor of comparative centrists, like Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000. The party's base rarely gets its heart's desire.

Throughout his career, Gingrich has done his best to ingratiate himself with the most rabid ideologues in the GOP. In 1990, he advised fellow House Republicans to refer to Democrats with such words as "sick," "pathetic," "destructive," "anti-family," and "traitors."

He has never lost his penchant for bombast, vitriol, and shameless invention. He says Obama "doesn't even have the courage to tell truth about who wants to kill us" and accuses him of "pandering to radical Islam." He claimed that in December, because Congress and Obama agreed to extend the tax cuts, "the economy improved overnight"—"literally."

There is no claim so reckless or implausible that Gingrich will not make it, with an air of complete certitude. That's the true mark of the demagogue. He is incapable of measured judgments.

With Gingrich, the excess goes beyond adjectives to adverbs. Obama's national security policy is not just mistaken, not just risky, but "enormously dangerous." The administration is guilty not of hypocrisy or utter hypocrisy but "utter total hypocrisy."

The rhetorical volume is always turned up to high—and then turned up another notch. Incendiary words are to Gingrich what whiskey is to an alcoholic. He can never get enough.

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  • Suki||

    Good morning reason! Happy Monday!

    This comment at 2:23 be3cause I wanted it to be and it rimes.

  • -||

    Haste makes typos.

  • Spiny Norman||

    So does sleep deprivation.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • Ragnar||

    "No, Gingrich suffers from a worse flaw: He is a demagogue, and demagogues don't get elected president of the United States. They get TV attention, they sometimes get big crowds, they even win the occasional primary. But their only essential function is to fail."

    I would note that Obama got elected, thus making your argument moot.

  • -||

    Obama isn't a demagogue. He's an empty suit. They get elected all the time.

  • JohnD||

    +1

  • JoshINHB||

    Obama isn't a demagogue. He's an empty suit

    Actually, he's both.

    The English definition of a demagogue is "a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by ,b>arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people."

    "Yes we can, Yes we can!

    We are the ones we've been waiting for

    This is the worst economy since the Great Depression Ironically Bama said this in 2007.

  • ||

    Rhetorical flourishes /= demagogery.

    Many politicians have referred to this recession as being "the worst since the Great Depression, so uttering that phrase hardly makes Obama a demagogue.

    Nor did he display the other characteristic of demagogery - overt and explicit extremism. His entire campaign in 2008 was relatively mushy and amounted to "We're better than those guys."

    While there are many sins I attribute to Barry O, demagogery is not one of them.

  • JoshINHB||

    I quoted the dictionary definition of demagoguery. overt and explicit extremism are no where in that definition. Comrade Chapman does not get to decide what the meaning of every word is.

    Obama's presidential campaign was entirely based on emotional appeals.

    A climate of hate was created by his surrogates, Bush was torturer in chief, a war criminal presiding over the worst economy since the depression. Obama was cast as the savior that would restore America's image in the world and bring "the people" hope, change and redemption of the original sin of slavery, and the recent sin of republican selfishness.

    The real genius of this bullshit is that it was an emotional appeal to the self styled intelligent, who think that they can not be swayed by a demagogue because that only happens to the rabble.

  • ||

    Bush was torturer in chief, (factually true)

    a war criminal
    (factually true)

    presiding over the worst economy since the depression (factually true)

  • RyanXXX||

    +1776

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Bush was torturer in chief, (factually true)

    a war criminal
    (factually true)

    presiding over the worst economy since the depression (factually true)


    Whom did he torture?

  • I know he is||

    But what is your God Obama?

  • ||

    "presiding over the worst economy since the depression (factually true)"

    Ah, No. Every seems to forget the 1970's economy. Double digit inflation, Double digit unemployment, Stagflation, gas lines, energy shortages, etc.

  • Truthy||

    The only thing Bush tortured was the English language.

  • West Texas||

    Gingrich can't win for the same reason Palin can't win - the media has succeeded in defining their public images in a negative way and there's nothing those two can do about it.

  • -||

    Much of their negative press is warranted and is based upon facts of reality. "Image" is what unthinking people use to determine a person's worth. Character and intelligence and morality are what really matters, and both Palin and Gingrich have demonstrated appalling deficiencies in those areas. In my opinion.

  • Ice Nine||

    Glad you didn't state that categorically. For all of his many faults the one Gingrich does not have is a deficiency of intellect. Far, far from it.

  • -||

    You know who else was smart?

  • Wilber||

    Mr. Ed?

  • -||

    Of course, of course.

  • Jess||

    + effing 1!

  • ||

    +1. Whatever his other faults--and they are legion--he is not stupid.

    By the same token, Sarah Palin is an intellectual lightweight with little understanding of the issues, but she strikes me as a caring and sincere person.

  • Ice Nine||

    You got it. She is an intellectual lightweight - of perfectly normal intelligence.

  • zoltan||

    She couldn't even name a Founding Father she respected.

  • -||

    Or a newspaper she reads. Sheesh. At least Gingrich (the smart one) can tell you why American Muslims should be exempt from First Amendment protections.

  • Ice Nine||

    Yeah, Like I said, she's certainly not an intellectual.

  • Realist||

    "For all of his many faults the one Gingrich does not have is a deficiency of intellect. Far, far from it." Wrong!

  • Ice Nine||

    And - sorry that you've forced the OT - it would be mildly interesting to know what your appallingly deficient opinion sees as the appalling deficiencies in Palin's caharacter and morality. And in her intelligence for that matter. Note that I am not asking about the pervasive caricature of her (lack of) intelligence but rather her perfectly obvious average or above intellligence. No, she is certainly not an intellectual - a tag that most knowledgable people readily apply to Gingrich, incidentally. (I am not a Palin fan, BTW.)

  • -||

    I have spoken.

  • Ice Nine||

    Ah, discourse! Is there anything more gratifying?!

  • West Texas||

    I think this proves my point.

    Did you know that you were so easily influenced by Tina Fey and Katie Couric?

  • West Texas||

    And to veer this back on topic, Newt is incredibly intellectual and likely would be a very effective executive, but his sensational personal life (which is no one's fault but his own) and the MSM portrayal of him as Clinton's evil heartless foil from 1995 (which isn't necessarily his fault) will sink his ship before he even leaves the harbor.

  • The MSM™||

    It's all our fault! People can't think without us! We are lord and master of the universe!

  • Ice Nine||

    Your assessment is spot on. 'Tis a pity.

  • The MSM™||

    All Americans are stupid sheep!*

    *Except "Ice Nine" and "West Texas," who who somehow remain impervious to our influence. Must recalibrate Brainwash Machine!

  • Bill Kristol||

    Thank God us neocons have Fox News to spread the Gospel....er, er....I mean the truth!

  • JoshINHB||

    And to veer this back on topic, Newt is incredibly intellectual and likely would be a very effective executive,

    No doubt that he is incredibly intelligent. He's also an incredible flake and unprincipled egomaniac. Exactly the personality type that should not be president and in fact would be a crappy executive.

  • Realist||

    Both Palin and Gingrich are warmongers. They play loose and fast with other peoples lives.

  • Ice Nine||

    Oh, right. Like Track Palin's for instance.

  • Realist||

    Who gives a fuck about Track (what a stupid name!) Palin. I am talking about all the people the U. S. is killing everywhere. The neocons can never start enough wars. We have an all volunteer military, so those that think they are saving America can choose to die!

  • wayne||

    What war has Palin started?

  • Ice Nine||

    The tenor of his posts suggests that that won't much matter.

  • Really||

    McCain/Palin would probably have started 5 wars by now if elected. At least that's what they always talk about. But talk is cheap....right? I did not vote for either parties losers. But I can tell what asshole you voted for!

  • John McCain||

    ♪♪ Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb:

    Vietnam √
    Laos √
    Cambodia √
    Iraq √
    Afghanistan √
    Iran...?
    Libya...?

  • ||

    What wars have the Repubs. started? Civil War No-Southern Dems. WW Iⅈ No Dems. Korea, Vietnam, No Dems. They, the repubs can take credit/blame for Spanish-Amer. War and Gulf wars 1&2

  • ||

    Cause Obama has ended both wars and brought all of our troops home.

    Oh, wait, he hasn't.

  • Realist||

    My, My kind of touchy huh? Yes Obama is a dick, Bush is a dick and you're a dick! Feel better???

  • Truthy||

    bush, dick, feelings... your post got me excited!

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Gingrich certainly does not lack for intelligence, nor Palin for character and morality. Fail.

  • George D||

    Aside from Gingrich himself, is anyone on the Republican side excited about him running? Maybe I've been looking in the wrong places, but so-cons are irritated about his infidelity, Tea Party-cons are irritated about his stances on the environment and immigration, and supporters of all the other potential candidates are worried that he's going to knock their horse out of the race.

    You get the impression that the RNC is looking at its options, and saying, "Dole and McCain worked out great... We need someone that's previously lost a primary but has name recognition... Can someone get me Dan Quayle on the phone?"

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I don't see much enthusiasm for him, either.

  • Realist||

    Gingrich is a dolt! He has a PhD in History because he's too fucking stupid to get one in the sciences. Why is there a PhD offered in History???

  • Gregory Smith||

    If Obama can win, anyone can win.

    Soros' Pseudo-Christian Group wants Real Christians to Give Up Beck for Lent.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....-real.html

  • ||

    But what should True Scotsmen give up?

  • Gregory Smith||

    Kilts?

  • Turk MacTavish||

    Lift up, perhaps. Give up, never!

  • ||

    They should give up quarter-pounders, especially if they're a MacDonald.

  • Realist||

    Yes, and that is the pity. The American people want someone they can relate to!

  • Gregory Smith||

    The last time they elected someone they couldn't relate to we ended up with Obama. Because let's face it, what does Obama have in common with the average American? I mean, how many of you grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia? How many had a white mother, and a black absent father?

    So yes, I want someone I can relate to POLITICALLY. Someone who cares about freedom and hates communism.

    I clearly did not vote for Obama.

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com

  • Realist||

    "Because let's face it, what does Obama have in common with the average American?"

    They're both fucking idiots!

  • Gregory Smith||

    That's a very elitist way of looking at life.

    A Cesspool by the Bay: The High-Cost of "Low-Flow" toilets in San Francisco.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....ilets.html

  • Realist||

    It's called Realism....try it!

  • Gregory Smith||

    I am a realist, and I admit some people have no business voting. In fact, I'm against any campaign that encourages people to vote.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    If Obama can win, anyone can win.


    Gingrich could win if the network media were to carry water for him.

  • Matt||

    How about this: Gingerich hasn't held public office in over a decade.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Stop trying to make him look good.

  • RNC||

    You're right. It's his turn.

  • Bob Dole||

    It's Bob Dole's turn!

    Get off my ventilator!

  • Palin||

    It's my turn!

    Get off my vibrator!

  • Realist||

    Get back to me when it's been a millenium.

  • Jerry||

    To me, people like Gingrich and Huckabee are useful idiots to the GOP. They give the notion to the Republican base that there is an actual choice in their presidential selection process, but in reality they only prevent other candidates from turning up (because there is only so much campaign cash to go around) and are in themselves never a threat to the GOP candidate the party leadership itself wants to see.

  • almost any politician||

    There is no claim so reckless or implausible that Gingrich almost any politician will not make it, with an air of complete certitude.

  • Me myself||

    Gingrich provides material for writers on deadline. That is his role. He cannot and will not be president. Ever.

  • The Ghost of W. C. Fields||

    Nice photo of Newt. But, Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.

  • JohnD||

    Newt is an intelligent, politically knowledgeable man. To claim otherwise marks you as a fool with an agenda.
    However, he will not win because of his considerable baggage and the animosity of the MSM.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Newt is an intelligent, politically knowledgeable man.

    Oh, he is intelligent. It's just that he made his money as a carnival pitchman, and that's all he knows how to do. He's a damned good one, but you don't let the squawker run the show.

  • What First Amendment?||

    Newt: The Ground Zero Mosque is “an assertion of Islamist triumphalism...an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.... There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia."

  • Gregory Smith||

    If there's no first amendment for porn shops and strip bars, why mosques?

    Communities have rights to, if your neighbor turns his house into a church and suddenly there's traffic 24/7, your quality of life suffers.

    So, if Giuliani was free to drive away the porn from times square, we should be free to say "hey city code people, we don't need mosques two blocks away from ground zero."

    Obama wants "common-sense" gun control.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....ntrol.html

  • What First Amendment?||

    "Communities have rights to" [sic]

    Nope. Individuals have rights. The "community" cannot take those rights away from the individual just because they don't like his religion or his books. At least not according to the Constitution. Do you believe in the Constitution, Greg?

  • JoshINHB||

    Is that the same constitution that allowed bans on individuals owning guns, allows locals to take property for non public use, enables the government to wage a war on its own people over intoxicants?

    That constitution?

  • -||

    The U.S. Constitution does not "allow" those things. Maybe you should read it. Political corruption of the Constitution does not invalidate the principles therein.

  • JoshINHB||

    The five goons that matter, disagree.

  • JoshINHB||

    The U.S. Constitution does not "allow" those things. Maybe you should read it.

    Please quote the text from the constitution that directs local zoning ordinances.

  • two wrongs||

    One right, coming up!

  • Average Libertarian||

    Reality is a collectivist construct.

    Real reality is only what each individual believes.

  • ||

    RANDROID SMASH! RANDROID ASSUME ALL LIBERTARIANS HAVE SAME PHILOSOPHY!

  • ||

    Yup, fighting for the "rights of the community!" to keep people from doing shit on their own property that the community doesn't like. But, sure you're a libertarian. Sure.

  • zoltan||

    Derrrrr, but the Constitution didn't say the government couldn't!

  • Tim||

    "...the animosity of the MSM."

    I'll never forgive him for stealing Christmas in 1994...

  • The MSM™||

    We own all 538 electoral votes!

  • JohnD||

    I have spoken...so fuck you. And let that be the final word!!!!!!

  • ||

    His first name is Newton. Too intellectual and English for American voters. So until he changes his name to "Newcular Titties", as called for here some months ago, he must and will lose.

  • Palin||

    Isn't he related to a salamander

  • ||

    Why does he shorten it to "Newt"? Every time I see or hear the name, I think "Eye of newt, and toe of frog...."

  • ||

    He's aiming for the Scottish witch vote.

  • Jethero||

    Granny is that you?

  • Truthy||

    He wants the coveted wiccan vote.

  • Cruz||

    Much like their haircuts, I always get the impression the sun is setting on the people like Morris, Gingrich and Huckabee. The whole vestige of times gone by, like the old man who still wears 70's fashion because it was the best decade of his life.

  • ||

    I thought William Jennings Bryan was history, until I listened to Huckabee.

    Religious populism is going to be a force in the USA for a long time, unfortunately. It is the only western country where a politician can say "evolution is only a theory" and not be hooted out of the campaign.

  • jason taylor||

    Huckabee is a fool, no doubt about it. But his personal religious beliefs are not even the goofiest things about him. He is a tax-and-spend theocrat. The only difference between him and the left is which "morals" he would force us all to live by. Hell, I'd vote for a Raelian or even a scientologist if I was convinced that they would abstain from legislating their private morality upon the rest of us.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    It is the only western country where a politician can say "evolution is only a theory" and not be hooted out of the campaign.


    That is because Americans support creationism.

    79% of Americans think that "creationism" should be taught alongside
    evolution in public schools; only 20% thought evolution should be taught
    without mentioning creationism.
    --"Survey Finds Support Is Strong for Teaching 2 Origin Theories," James
    Glanz, The New York Times, Mar. 11, 2000.

  • ||

    Bryan did better in his first two elections than people realize. He did about as well as McCain in the popular vote, which was a fairly average loss for a presidential race. The 1908 election against Taft was much more lopsided.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I could see Gingrich getting into major trouble as President with sharp practices, and he wouldn't get Obama's free pass from the media and the federal bureaucracy.

  • ||

    "Newt Gingrich has a lot going for him if he decides to run for president—a famous name, a record of accomplishment, a knack for raising money, and a rhetorical flair that appeals to his party's conservative base." Not to mention he is a venal, self serving, unprincipled piece of shit, all of which seems to have great appeal for the American people.

  • ||

    No, no, we love venality, self-absorption, and lack of principles, provided that they are delivered in a folksy manner.

  • "Huck"||

    My ears are burning.

  • ||

    +1

  • Bender Bending Rodriguez||

    The chief problem is not that Gingrich has been through two divorces and is married to a woman with whom he was having an affair while married to his second wife.

    I wonder if Wifey #3 is dumb enough to think she's a permanent hire...

  • ||

    He's the Ben Cartwright of politics.

  • ||

    Good morning, Reasonoids!

    I set up a NCAA Tourney bracket for H&R posters. It's a freebie and you can do it anonymously if you choose.

    Here's the link: http://reasonhnr.mayhem.cbssports.com/e

    The password is: jacket

    Progressive scoring applies. One point for Rd 1, 2 for Rd 2, etc. Play-in games don't count, so brackets must be done by Thursday at noon.

    Also, the only rule for the thing is: no rectal. I can't stand that fucking idiot, so she is banned. Anyone who cannot abide that rule is an idiot, so they don't belong anyway. Fuck 'em.

  • ||

    This is about basketball, right?

    What do I win?

  • ||

    lol, he has about as much of a chance as Sarah Palin lol.

    www.anon-tools.es.tc

  • ||

    He is a delusional blowhard with no moral core. On wife number three. He divorced one of them while she was in the hospital getting chemo (ala John Edwards). As Harry Truman said, "If your wife can't trust you, then why should I?"

    No more on the job training, and no more sociopaths that hide behind their media buddies who poo-poo any outrage as "Its just lying about sex."

    Gingrich has to go and go fast.

  • ||

    Doesn't Gingrich have better things to do like serving a dying wife with divorce papers or something?

  • ||

    My advice to the newest Mrs. Gingrich:

    DO NOT get cancer under any circumstances.

  • zoltan||

    Not bad for a troll.

  • ||

    My advice to the newest Mrs. Gingrich:

    DO NOT get cancer under any circumstances.

  • ||

    Gingrich has no chance. His voice and looks are almost as annoying as his rhetoric. He is most delusional. Thus far, there are no Republicans in the hunt who can beat Obama. A shame to say.

  • ||

    You're right on about the looks. Gingrich makes John Kerry look almost normal.

  • The Fringe Economist||

    His name just sounds too ugly for my vote

  • Jason Taylor||

    At the top political level, a person's persona is decided by the press. Listen to Gingrich interview with Sean Hannity and he sounds like a well-reasoned college professor. Listen to him on CNN and he sounds like an utter wingnut.
    My concern about him as president is that he has shown himself to be all too willing to kowtow to the GOP kingmakers in his quest for power. His hyperbole is a sales technique. I do not trust that he really believes it.

  • RyanXXX||

    Gingrich claims that Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist and you guys think he is an intellectual?

    If anything, Obama is a mix between Wilson and Kipling

    pfffffffffffffffffttttttttt

  • ||

    OUCH! i can't believe i'm actually sticking up for obama, but in all fairness i've never heard him call the Prime Minister of India a bloody wog.

  • ||

    Newt's amplifier goes to 11.

  • ||

    This article was obviously written by a left-wing person. With the Tea Party mindset of the country now and the financial disaster coming from the dumbocrats and Nobama, a big thinker like Newt is a likely candidate.

  • sophie||

    Last quote heard from Toni’s dad after abruptly leaving for good upon hearing that his wife was pregnant with their one and only child.

  • nike running shoes||

    is good

  • tory burch||

    wow,good post,unique point of view.
    thanks for your shanring,it's useful and valuable information.

  • ||

    I agree that this article was obviously written by a left wing person. If you really want something to think about, at least read Eric Odom's article. This particular one didn't hold my interest as it was only one man's thoughts & nothing substitive!

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    This movie has some lebron 9 for sale of the same flaws I saw in another attempt at a faithful adaptation of a work of fantastic literature long thought unfilmable, Zach Snyder’s 2009 version of Watchmen...That is, it lebron 9 china for sale struck me as a series of filmed recreations of scenes from the famous novel

  • xiingguan||

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