Friday, December 9, 2011

The Murdoch and Limbaugh primaries

By now it should come as no surprise that there is a gulf of a divide between the Republican establishment and their base. Nowhere is that more in evidence that in the race for the presidential nomination and the rise of Newt Gingrich's candidacy.

At this point, Gingrich holds a double digit lead over the establishment's candidate Mitt Romney in all the current polling. The Real Clear Politics average has that lead at +11.7 for Gingrich (33% to 21.3%) and Gallup's latest has it at +15 (37% to 22%).

And so the long knives of the establishment are coming out in force to try and take Gingich down. Here's just a sample.

Peggy Noonan (sounding like the Maureen Dowd of the right):

He's philosophically unanchored, an unstable element. There are too many storms within him, and he seeks out external storms in order to equalize his own atmosphere. He's a trouble magnet, a starter of fights that need not be fought.

David Brooks:

He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.

As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated...

It doesn’t matter if a person shares your overall philosophy. If that person doesn’t have the right temperament and character, stay away.

Michael Gerson:

Gingrich’s language is often intemperate. He is seized by temporary enthusiasms. He combines absolute certainty in any given moment with continual reinvention over time.

These traits are suited to a provocateur, an author, a commentator, a consultant. They are not the normal makings of a chief executive.

Everyone deserves forgiveness for the failures of their past. But the grant of absolution does not require the suspension of critical judgment. Gingrich’s problem is not the weakness of a moment, it is the pattern of lifetime.

Karl Rove takes a much more nuanced approach...setting up Gingrich as a failure even if he wins:

But what happens on Jan. 3 if he doesn't win Iowa, or comes in first with a smaller margin than people expect?...

In presidential primaries, as in life in general, we often learn more about people when they face adversity. Voters want candidates to struggle and earn the right to represent their party...

On this score, Mr. Gingrich has proven his resilience many times over. Ironically, his test may not be whether he can overcome adversity but whether he can handle success. When a man of his self-confidence begins to feel on top of the world, bad things often happen.

So you get the picture...the establishment Republicans are terrified of Newt's surge - much more so than they seemed with the same from the other not-Romney candidates. Its so bad that Bill Kristol, who only a few weeks ago had resigned himself to the idea that this isn't 1980, is once again holding out for a savior ticket (hint: Ryan/Rubio is his choice).

But going back to Noonan's column, at least she gets something the other folks are missing.

The antipathy of the establishment not only is not hurting him at this early date, it may be helping him. It may be part of the secret of his rise.

The more mud these folks throw at Gingrich, the more fuel they provide to the people who REALLY matter to the base...folks like Rush Limbaugh (warning: wingnut link). matter where you look in the Republican establishment media today, there looks to be a coordinated attack on Mr. Newt...

These people, we're not even talking about ideology with conservative versus liberal or Republican versus Democrat. This is strictly inside-the-Beltway political machinations that are going on here that are the determining factor...

So there's a huge effort out there today...And it is essentially an attack on conservatives.

I sense the possibility of a real war coming on. Certainly there's still the possibility of folks getting strategic enough to avert it. But instead of focusing so much on the Iowa and/or New Hampshire primaries, the reality is that at this point, the real action is in the Murdoch and Limbaugh primaries. As we've noted before, the Republicans created these monsters and now they'll have to figure out what to do with them - or go down in flames.


  1. One thing to keep in mind with Limbaugh: his ratings go up when Democrats are in charge.

    He has the perverse incentive to *not* help the Republicans win. Some of the smart Republicans have figured this out and have tried to warn other party leaders, but all for naught.

  2. Chris - That's an important insight.

    And it fits on the other side as well for folks like Michael Moore.

  3. I like it...@MMFlint is the Rush Limbaugh of the left. Couple of FATcats getting rich off other people's indignation. Sweet gig.

    Great article, by the way. Any thoughts on where the Koch Brothers line up in this fight?

  4. Tien Le - Excellent question about the Koch Bro's. They do seem to prefer to work in the shadows, don't they? And now with Citizen's United, we won't be able to tell much about where they're spending their $.

    My first thought would be to pay attention to whether or not Dick Armey's Freedom Works organization steps in to endorse anyone.

  5. David Frum recently wrote that "if Gingrich has emerged as the nominee by then, the mood of [the Republican] convention will be full unconcealed panic." It looks like the panic is already starting, and it couldn't happen to a more disturbing bunch. They turned their party into a circus, so they can't complain now that the clowns are taking over.

  6. I forgot about Freedom Works saying they might have to step in and endorse someone. Good thinking.

    The Koch's can't be happy about the prospects of either Romney or Gingrich, but I guess they want to influence the Supreme Court so badly that they'll have to throw their weight behind whomever gets the nod. I just love how they're all squirming and oh so uncomfortable.

  7. Sorry I don't have a link at this time, but I read an article speculating that the Koch brothers were going to fund a third party to gum up the works. I would think to gum up the Democrats. I suspect the Koch Bros would benefit if either Newton Leroy or Williard Mitt was in the WH.


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