Newt Gingrich CPAC Rock Star
Over at C&L’s Video Cafe, Heather is upset that Newt Gingrich received a warm welcome at CPAC.
Good grief. Newt Gingrich was treated like a rock star at the CPAC 2010 Convention. He entered the auditorium with “Eye of the Tiger” playing and the audience gave him a standing ovation and pats on the back as he made his way to the stage. For a party that trashed President Obama as a “celebrity” these people sure do like their fanfare don’t they?
There are a lot of reasons to not cheer Newt Gingrich but his celebrity status among conservative activists is certainly earned: He brought down the Democratic leadership that had held on to the House of Representatives for decades, using innovative guerrilla tactics and taking advantage of a changing media landscape. He was the chief architect of the 1994 “Republican Revolution” and is an articulate spokesman for the conservative message.
The “celebrity” meme as applied to Obama during the 2008 campaign, by contrast, was based on the idea that Obama was wildly popular for giving good speeches and being charismatic on television. While undeniably accomplished for a youngish man, Obama simply didn’t have the resume one expects of a president: His only major office was United States Senator and he’d held that office something like 5 minutes before launching a presidential campaign.
While that charge had some validity and resonated with a large number of people — including a large number of Democrats who preferred other candidates — it obviously wasn’t a deal breaker, as Obama went on to comfortably win the election, beating out much more seasoned candidates for the nomination and then the general election. And it’s a charge that is moot at this point; no one that the Republicans could plausibly nominate in 2012 will have more relevant experience than Obama at that point: He’ll have been president for nearly four years.
(It’s worth noting that a variant on the same charge was tried and failed with regard to George W. Bush, who’d been governor for six years of a very large state but one in which gubernatorial powers are unusually limited. But, again, by 2004 it no longer mattered.)