Shorter Charles Pierce: The only reason Republican pundits are freaking out about Gingrich is because they know he will lose to Obama.
Modern American conservative intellectual history began in the 1964 presidential election and in the organized white-supremacist resistance to the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. It is western and southern, not Oxbridgian, and it is the love child of Barry Goldwater and George Wallace. Small wonder that one of its presiding characteristics has been a decidedly un-Burkean nastiness, and a proud anti-intellectualism that would have made Richard Hofstadter wish he died as a trial. I’m old enough to remember the NCPAC campaigns, run by a vicious closet case named Terry Dolan. Will and Krauthammer were just coming into their glory then, and I don’t remember them being particularly critical of the campaigns that rid the Senate of George McGovern and Frank Church. This was the precursor protein in the brain that eventually would become inflamed with Gingrichitis. It progressed through the work Lee Atwater did for the first George Bush and the work Karl Rove did for the second one, the former just as Newt was coming to power and the latter after he’d slunk away from it for a spell. It was all there, waiting for someone to put it all together in one place — namely, his wallet. Finally, the Hour of the Newt was at hand.
Where were the complaints about his intellectual shortcomings in 1994? Where was the concern that he was leading the Republicans down a dark and lonely road where monsters be? My god, go back and read the coverage of his ascension to the Speakership. Read what “the Republican establishment” said about his political savvy and his mighty intellect. Most of it makes the Gospel of John read like H.L. Mencken.
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