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Fathoming the Gingrich Ascent
Citizen Zed - 12/2/11

It's hard to fathom Gingrich riding high in the polls, except perhaps by virtue of being the last apparently sane man standing in a zoo best moderated by Jerry Springer (or wait, is it Donald Trump). Ari Kohen over at Running Chicken posts brief review of those who've undergone the "unpleasant" task of actually reading Newt Gingrich's doctoral dissertation. A good read, even if a buzzkill to a perfectly beautiful Friday.  I mean do we really have to imagine this disguised blob of cunning protoplasm as President?

But it's even more galling to hear people reflexively inhale Newt's pernicious flatulence, i.e., the drag show of Gingrich as academic, historian, or "ideas man". Over and over again, like some impossible hiccup, commentators regurgitate deference to Newt as "a smart guy", and a "formidable debater". One could easily fashion a drinking game over that after the next debate!

That such a fraud could be so thoroughly perpetuated may well require another zoo, one of "journalists" and talking heads who focus solely on marketing, demographics, and brands.  An unthinking substrate of unexamined feeling, the mere state of voter preference, becomes the basis of "analysis".  Suddenly, it's a media universe where styles of appeal cannot be brought into question any more than the unmitigated gut feelings upon which they draw a bead. Under the aegis of the Age of Marketing, the substance of political branding is never really the all, any more than that of the Mac hipster dude vs. the PC guy commercials a ways back. "Analysis" turns on the question of maintaining a brand and how well a demographic is manipulated, on who bought what.

Newt may well be the perfect, ugly avatar of this lazy paradigm - like vinyl siding, so essentially ugly nobody cares; and hence most apt for ascendancy. And yet, even a former spokesperson, Dee Dee Myers in a moment of stark clarity, can break the malodorous haze in remarking that he's a "sort of political sociopath [who] constructs these very elaborate arguments that support whatever he's doing at the moment." Scary to think a responsible 21st Century party could nominate him. On the other hand, seeing this sophistical blimp try to pull off his pseudo-condescending challenge to unmoderated, Lincoln-Douglass style debates with Obama could be the best train wreck a miserable hack ever deserved.

But why am I still scared? I'd rather have my beautiful Friday back - even if, rather than imagining Newt's grating voice, it meant riding over a cliff with Rebecca Black.

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