Thursday, October 19, 2006

Newt Gingrich, Contracted

Cajun Tiger has brought something ghastly to my attention. Newt Gingrich--


Let me finish...

Newt Gingrich is lurking in the wings of Disgraceland, offering a detailed explanation of what the Republicans need to emphasize in order to win the 2006 midterm elections. While that's a little like Michael Dukakis offering the Democrats victory advice, it's still worth a look because--illogical though it is--Newt has his finger on the pulse of today's GOP.

For brevity's sake, I will not post the whole thing here. For one thing, it's as torturously long as I imagine one of his history lectures to be. Second, most of his points fall so easily in one of several stereotypical groups that mentioning them all would be redundant.

But more on all that later. First, the intro:

The elite media are giddy with anti-Republican euphoria. Their coverage has not been this biased against Republicans in three decades.

Three decades ago, the media was covering the great GOP fiasco that was Watergate. Today's media is bought off by right-wingers, and yet coverage is still bad? And the worst since Watergate? What is that saying about your party, Newt?

The Democrats are excited and convinced they will win a big victory.

I certainly hope they aren't convinced. They should win by a huge margin; but that's what I also said in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Complacency is the enemy.

Republicans should enter these closing weeks of the election with clarity, conviction and confidence. The GOP owes it to the American people to give them an inspiring choice. When you are right, you have confidence.

Is it me, or does this sound less like a campaign editorial than a corporate training video? "Clarity, conviction and confidence." I suddenly want to buy a diamond!

The theme is simple: We can't go back to the failed policies of the past.


As mentioned above, much of Newt's letter falls into one several categories. And while constant repetition is necessary to propagate GOP lies, I'll spare you the indignity and focus on the rhetorical tricks Newt employs:

1) Reducing political debate to ridiculously leading choices:

Republicans are right on defeating terrorism, and the left is wrong in wanting to run and hide

Republicans are right to favor traditional American conservative social values, and the left is completely wrong to put San Francisco left-wing values third in line to be President

Left-wing San Francisco radical ideas vs. the values held by the rest of America

2) Repeatedly saying, "If every American knew how so-and-so thought, they'd never vote for them," which seems to be more a critique of GOP mud-slinging than a stab at the Democrats

3) Invoking the Carter administration 4,000 times, seeming to imply that Democrats love hostages and being depressed. He also cites Carter for a litany of statistics--"the deepest recession since the Great Depression"--as if the Bush administration hadn't completely shattered most of them

4) Loyally adhering to his infamous buzzwords list:

The Democrat, Left-Wing Activist, News Media, Big Lie Campaign

5) Constant, almost fetishistic, attacks on Nancy Pelosi. Newt endlessly harps on Pelosi--the only politician he refers to at length in his entire screed--as if she is the only Democrat in America. Hmmm...anyone sense a little bitterness about the Speaker of the House post?

6) Rhythmic use of the brand name:

When Republicans tell the truth, Republicans win. When Republicans allow the left to hide their record, fudge their values and distort the facts, Republicans lose. When Republicans passively accept smearing, Republicans lose. When Republicans can't explain or define the choice, Republicans lose.

My fifth-grade reading book described this technique in an essay about propaganda. As I recall, a political campaign was the primary example.

7) Painting truthful criticism of the GOP as the work of paid Democrat extremists:

This year's campaign has been one-sidedly defined by the best-financed left-wing activist system in history. From George Soros on, the amount of money spent attacking Republicans dwarfs anything ever tried before.

That liberal-blogger thing can't be helping matters either, being that we spend so much money to be this effective!

8) Outright lies:

The elite media now sense a chance to beat Republicans and are shamelessly one-sided in their effort to defame and defeat the GOP.

When you are a conservative, you have to assume the news media will be against you. That is a given. The question is how you design a campaign to win despite that fact.

The Democrats have spent their time in a disciplined assault on Republicans...

9) Scary Mein Kampf references:

The Big Truth as a Disciplined Answer to the Big Lie

The key to winning the kind of campaign Republicans are in is to slow down, focus on a few very big truths and then insist on bringing everything in the campaign back to these core truths and the choice between the Republican future and the Democrat future.

They have to be "big truths" that clear away the 'big smear" and defeat the "big lie."

Which leads us to Newt's Three Big Truths for the Closing Weeks of the 2006 Campaign!

I believe there are three big truths on which the Republicans could win the 2006 campaign, despite every effort of the news media and the left.

I believe these three truths resonate with people in their personal lives and fit into their sense of America's historic context and within their political views.

I believe that by driving each of these three truths home, Republicans can win the argument if they insist on slowing down and focusing in order to build a resonating echo effect across the country.

Does anyone else have that Blessid Union of Souls song stuck in their head now?

Three Big Thematic Truths

1) Promoting a proven economic prosperity agenda of lower taxes and pro-growth policies vs. the failed policies of higher taxes, more regulation and bloated bureaucratic structures of the past

Lots of P-alliteration there! Does Newt's audience need an umbrella when he says this aloud? Or, perhaps, a Spin-to-English dictionary?

2) Left-wing San Francisco radical ideas vs. the values held by the rest of America

Because that's what this election is all about: a bunch of extreme radicals in one city against the entire rest of the country, who thinks and votes in complete right-wing lock step. If that actually were the case, then why do the Republicans need a pep talk in the first place?

3) Defeating terrorism and the dictatorships who threaten America vs. appeasing and being defeated by them

Curiously, Newt leaves out the third (and currently most popular) option: fighting terrorism in such an abstract and convoluted way that thousands of lives are thrown away and no progress is made. And he thinks he's still relevant!

If you're still enthralled, you can read the rest of Gingrich's comically misleading remarks here. Unfortunately, we cannot ignore the rhetorical magic tricks that pepper Newt's diatribe. These are the exact shifty tactics that could lead to victory for the Republicans. Not victory for America, mind you, but for the Republicans. The difference is profound.


yournamehere said...

Newt Gingrich has about as much political clout these days as Lee Atwater, and he's dead.

None of Newt's right wing friends were there to help save his political career; why is he so beholden to them?

He's probably just waiting for his new wife to be hospitalized so he can serve her with divorce papers.

Anonymous said...

As expected...none of the points made in the "Truths" section are addressed.

Ian McGibboney said...

I did address his points, though I passed over his extended explanations of those points. His elaborations on those points read like bad campaign materials and oversimplified PR. They serve no purpose other than to pimp the Republican platform. The "truths" themselves were silly in the first place, and it would be redundant to re-explore the tortured rhetorical techniques Newt uses that I explained at the beginning.

Phillip said...

I love it when Newt opines about the sanctity of marriage. Someone has to ask him someday which of his three marriages he considered the most sacred.

Nick said...

Though I agree much with Newt's politics, I have to say BINGO in response to Phillip's comments.

At least President Bush has kept his only marriage sacred, at least as far as I can tell, as opposed to Clinton, Foley, Newt, Livingston, that idiot Governor from NJ that turned gay and left his wife, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me one thing in Truth #1 that silly or oversimplified PR? The tax cuts will not be extended if Dems retake control as Rangel (possible future chairman of Ways and Means...(God forbid)) has already said, so everything Newt cites will happen as they expire. How is that silly or oversimplified PR?

Ian McGibboney said...

It's all in the language, CT. "Proven economic prosperity agenda of lower taxes and pro-growth policies" is pure PR. It is the stuff of press releases, the kind of language that a journalist would immediately discard for something more descriptive (such as "the Bush economic policy" or "supply-side economics"). Moreover, the choice Newt presents is another example of his ridiculously leading this-or-that choices. He frames the debate as such:

Do we stay with the unviersally successful Bush tax plan or go back to the dark days of the 1990s?

Of course, Newt forgets a few things: 1) the Bush tax plan is "proven" only in the eyes of the wealthiest Americans and those idiotic enough to think they will someday suck up a trickle; 2) the Bush administration is responsible for some of the most bloated and ineffective bureaucracy in history, while Clinton actually streamlined the government; 3) Progressive tax rates (often called "higher taxes" because the rich pay more) and increased regulation are necessities for an economy that helps all tax brackets prosper.

So you see, CT, Newt wants you to think that his simplistic choices are universally accepted truths. They aren't. And they aren't close to correct.

Anonymous said...

So I guess the millions of jobs that have been added to the economy only "proves" the economy is good to the rich. I guess the lowest tax bracket being lowered to 10% instead of 15% only benefits the rich. I guess the marriage penalty reduction only helps wealthy married people. And that's only three of the things that would go away if the tax cuts were not extended by a Dem run Congress...not just PR rhetoric.

Ian McGibboney said...

I'm not impressed by the "millions" of jobs that the Bush administration has created, considering that many more millions were lost in the time following the Bush tax cuts (thus aggravating what started with the collapse of the dot-com boom). A real indicator of job growth is, are people working the jobs for which they are qualified? If someone loses a professional job, then finds employment at McDonald's and Circle K, that could technically be seen as job growth. But it's not, you know?

On that of that, according to recently revised guidelines, fast food is now considered "manufacturing." Just another way to cook the numbers.

You can revise tax brackets all you want. That doesn't solve the huge stratification of wealth that's threatening to destroy our economy.

The term "marriage penalty" is bogus, much like "estate tax." Married people pay fewer taxes than single people, but no one ever talks about the "single penalty."

Finally, CT, if Newt wanted to discuss the issues you brought up, he would do so specifically instead of using PR lingo. But he doesn't want to, because PR is so much easier and too broad to merit any real discussion.

Anonymous said...

Spin it however you like but the we have the lowest unemployment rate in over 30 years, and average income is the highest it has ever been.

No idea where you can even suggest the tax cuts cost jobs, especially "millions" when they were barely in effect for a couple of months when 9-11 happened.

Please tell me how we have had the three biggest growths in the economy after the three biggest tax cuts of Kennedy, Reagan and Bush and tax cuts cause less jobs?

Also please tell me how we are collecting record tax revenues AFTER the tax cuts?

Don't see how he could have gotten any more specific than he did when he laid out the truths like in my latest post.

Ian McGibboney said...

Where do you get that unemployment figure? I've never heard it, even from GOP apologists.

"Average income" is typically misleading Bush-administration doublespeak. When you factor in the richest Americans (who are among the richest people in the history of the world), of course the "average" income will be higher! Hell, the fact that the "average" income isn't actually higher is a testament to how low the lowest incomes are.

The Bush tax cuts were some of the most regressive on record. And I would argue that a market built on expectations could fall sharply with Americans insecure about their jobs. Anyway, if the economy can drop suddenly as it did with 9/11, than it certainly could have in the first quarter of 2001, which was officially considered a recession.

Kennedy's tax cuts worked because they were progressive, i.e. they assisted all income brackets, not just the rich at the expense of the poor. Reagan's "boom" was caused by a mixture of supply-side economics and deficit spending, which is why we had major recessions both before (1982) and after (1987). Bush's economic growth? I'll explain it as soon as I see any.