Gingrich Decries ‘Game Show’ Presidential Campaign
Newt Gingrich is disgusted with the pathetic, bizarre, and shallow manner in which the current crop of Republican candidates are conducting the campaign.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the 2008 White House candidates are “demeaning the presidency” by focusing on the race rather than ideas. “We have shrunk our political process to this pathetic dance in which people spend an entire year raising money in order to offer non-answers, so they can memorize what their consultants and focus groups said would work,” Gingrich said.
“This idea of demeaning the presidency by reducing it to being a game show contest … is wrong for America, and I would never participate in it,” he said.
Gingrich told reporters there is room for a him in the race. “There’s a tremendous vacuum of leadership willing to stand up and talk to the country in clear ways about what we have to get done to create a generation of opportunity and what we have to do to avoid a generation for bureaucracy and problems,” Gingrich said.
The irony, of course, is that the Contract With America, Gingrich’s claim to fame, was itself a product of consultants and focus groups and he rose to power partly through the use of deliberately chosen buzz words that cast Democrats are evil and anti-family and Republicans as protectors of all that’s good and holy. Shortly after assuming the Speakership in 1995, he circulated a memo called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” to incoming GOP freshman. Here’s an excerpt:
Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.
- abuse of power
- anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
- "compassion" is not enough
- criminal rights
- failure (fail)
- permissive attitude
- punish (poor …)
- red tape
- status quo
- urgent (cy)
This tactic worked brilliantly and, like all successful tactics, was quickly copied by the opposition. While by no means the only cause, it has helped create the current atmosphere of extreme polarization that characterizes the American political landscape.
Hypocrisy aside, though, Gingrich is right. I’d certainly prefer to see the candidates spend more time discussing issues and outlining their vision for the country. Then again, like Gingrich, I’m a policy wonk with an academic inclination; a debate focusing on the finer points of public policy would likely bore most people to tears.
While I’m not a fan of Gingrich the man, he’s a compelling figure and he would add a lot to the debate. He’s in the mold of H. Ross Perot, Jerry Brown, and Ralph Nader. You can forget, for a while at least, that they’re kooks and would make lousy presidents because they’re charismatic, smart, and refreshingly candid.
via Political Wire
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