The phenomenon of Uncle Newt


I recently found Newt Gingrich's youtube channel. In light of Gingrich's South Carolina primary win, I've been watching a few of these videos. I find them fascinating, and not really for the right reasons. Since these are videos uploaded by the Gingrich campaign, I suppose these are the videos he thinks best represent him.

The most striking thing about these videos is their consistent, unabashed, gleeful meanness. Most politicians when running for president affect a geniality that everyone knows is probably phony, but at the same time, totally necessary. You have to kiss those babies and praise those townhall moms whether it's at 5 in the morning or in a midnight rally. You have your wife or mom next to you on the campaign trail to show that you're really just a family man at heart. That's part of the American political process, the unrelieved peppiness that politicians have to fake on the campaign trail. This is reflected to an almost painful degree in the perma-grin/grimace Mitt Romney has pasted on his face at all times.



Well Uncle Newt has totally circumvented all that fakeness. He's been married three times, and two of his ex-wives have made the rounds on TV shows talking about what an awful guy he is. He's the only guy who's ever had to utter the words "open marriage" in a debate. His former Congressional colleagues have also spoken to the presses quite frankly about Gingrich's uh, personality. Not that Newt would disagree with his ex-wives' assessments of him, I suspect. On his youtube channel, you can hear him talk about his plan for America's enemies: kill them. You can see him wagging his finger at Juan Williams in a tone that veers dangerously close to "don't get uppity with me, boy" racism. You can hear him call President Obama stupid. In all of the videos, there's not a single "See, I'm just a nice, normal guy" moment. Newt might be the most openly, gleefully mean prominent American politician since Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

I know politicians are complex. I am sure there is more to Newt than the Angriest White Man to ever Angry White Man. What's scary isn't Gingrich's Uncle Scrooge personality and politics, it's the fact that so many Americans are eating it up. Is this really the person people want leading the nation for the next four years? If this is what America wants, well, God bless America.

Comments

  1. Makes me very sad, as I don't see a single candidate in either party who I think would be a good President.

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  2. Yeah really. What a bunch of inspiring people. NOT.

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  3. Ivy, very thoughtful comments. It's true that unless Gingrich is totally disconnected, his YouTube channel reflects what he wants it to. He is genuinely mean, but it won't surprise me if we see the videos change quickly after Florida. There's no way he can keep up the racism in primaries in genuinely diverse non-southern states and not be called on it, but for now he's preaching to the choir. Romney is to, albeit in a slightly more suble way. He can parade his all-white-all-the-time family around and get the message across, but Newt can't do that (for obvious reasons).

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    Replies
    1. For some reason I kind of doubt it. The primaries seem to be bringing out a very specific type of voter, and when Rick Santorum is somehow not enough of an Angry White Man for the primary voters, you know there's a huge problem.

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