Jan 26 2012
Yes, I deliberately mangled the Star Wars analogy. I know it is hard to detect when I deliberately do that versus my penchant for typos and dyslexic writing. My apologies – but I love strategery
Today we see another lame effort by the GOP establishment to take out Newt – by calling on the Ghost of GOP Past: Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Unmentioned by Gingrich then, or in any of the 2,414 debates during this campaign, was his 1985 criticism of President Reagan’s historic meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev as “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with (British Prime Minister) Chamberlain at Munich in 1938.”
I’m unimpressed. A young and cautious Gingrinch was schooled on politically bold moves by one of the masters of using his beliefs to guide his path. Similar to the successful behavior of George W Bush, who won his goals and the support of the people by sticking to principles, not saying one thing and doing another.
But why cry foul now because Newt did not always agree with Reagan back then? Is this piety to the image of a man of the people who rose to the Presidency going to impress anyone but the slavish Reagan Groupies (think Hannity here, who wants to be like Reagan but is not even close)?
Does the GOP establishment think Reagan was the reason they rode
road to victory in 2010? Talk about your misfire.
I will say it again – this year’s key voters are the same Tea Party insurgents who swept away the old-tired guard in 2010. They hitched their cart to the small-government GOP and are taking the Republican Party by storm. They are going to change the GOP party through the age old art of democracy. Because they are going to change DC.
The other GOP establishment attack strategy has been to (1) claim Newt is too volatile, too bold and (2) Newt is impure. In fact the Reagan swipes are part of the “Newt is impure, too imperfect” gambit.
Let me take the 2nd issue first. The 2010 insurgent voters sees all of DC as dirty and conniving. No one is going to win by trying to convince these voters they are the least stained, or the others are more stained. Romney has RomneyCare, Bain Capitol and his liberal, big government dark side. Newt has no claim to fidelity and honor at home. As the WSJ noted previously, the best way to look at this field is:
As for the current GOP field, it’s like confronting a terminal diagnosis. There may be an apparent range of treatments: conventional (Romney), experimental (Gingrich), homeopathic (Paul) or prayerful (Santorum). But none will avail you in the end. Just try to exit laughing.
We are swimming in imperfections, so this impure and imperfect attack mode is a none starter.
So what will work? Well generalities won’t because the 2010 insurgent voter is not stupid nor naive. Vague and empty phrases only repel this upper middle class, successful voter (once know as the silent majority). They (or we) see things differently. We don’t want cautious or conventional (Romney). We want action. And that answers why the first kind of attack is failing.
We don’t want prayers or new age promises of instant success (Santorum and Paul). We want bold experimentation with an eye to shrink government to its minimum size (note well I did not say optimum size). Now that has some serious appeal!
I noted yesterday that I was going to explain why Romney and Bain are not the paragons of the free market so many Romney supporters want to claim. Bain is, and was, part vulture capitalism. Newt’s documentary on the wreckage left by Romney and Bain after pulling millions of dollars out of corporate carcasses is spot on in this regard. He did not do it universally, but he did do it a lot. Too much.
The defense has been “it is legal and he paid his taxes”. Well let me introduce you to a legendary business man who made is wealth legally and paid his taxes. He too was a big fan of destructive capitalism:
Yes folks, it is the fictional character Ebenezer Scrooge. The worst of the corporate raiders to be known by so many around the world. He has his real life contemporaries like robber barons and sweat shop owners. He is an example of what no business owner or manager should ever want to be associated with.
Now, if any of you Romney backers are thinking I am comparing Romney and Bain to Scrooge chill down. My only point here is you can be a legal, tax paying businessman and rightfully despised. Sadly for Romney, his actions at Bain allow a connection to this well known image of businessmen who forget or ignore the human factor when chasing profits.
In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol there was the counter example to Scrooge, the image of an admirable and loved businessman. This is embodied in the character of Mr. Fezziwig:
Fezziwig is one of the few people to whom Scrooge is thankful, for he says, “He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil…The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.” Scrooge is reminded how much he once appreciated Fezziwig. Since Fezziwig is the elder Scrooge’s opposite in many ways — in kindness, generosity, affection for his employees, relationship with family, and apparent happiness — Scrooge is thus confronted with the fact that his own choices have diverged greatly from those of someone he admires.
Now I would say, on the home front, Romney is closer to Fezziwig. But on the corporate front he is definitely tilted to the Scrooge side of the spectrum. And when we look to someone to dismantle Big Government, we are not looking for someone who takes an ax to the deal. There are still lives, careers and families to deal with.
So is there a Fezziwig in the race? Not any more. Herman Cain was playing that role (which is why he was succeeding so well). But there are Fezziwig like examples out there – and they exist in small businesses (not Big Government).
The best example I can come up with I think people could connect with is a man named Chef Robert Irvine and his uplifting show Restaurant Impossible.
I love this show because it is admirable on so many levels. Here is a successful man answering the calls of desperate small businesses (many family owned and run). Chef Irvine comes in with 2 days and $10,000 and literally saves people from ruin and despair. He does not walk away with millions. He does, however, try to save every job. He gives secrets, talents and skills he has learned away to the needy.
He teaches the people how to fish (or run a restaurant), he does not hand out fish.
This show is an example of what 2010 voters cherish and admire – and why Romney will never connect. He is not this kind of corporate re-builder. These people work their butts off to help others. And many of these people are below rock bottom. Savior versus profiteer.
Does Irvin and his folks get some financial return? Of course. But his goal is to salvage the company at all costs, not savage it for all potential profits.
2010 voters instinctively know the difference. They know Big Government is incapable of such actions (though the big government types strive to be Robin Hood, while they decide who is ‘worthy’). They know the difference between a Romney and an Irvine (or the Fezziwig verses Scrooge class).
Is Newt imperfect and radical? Yes. Is that bad? Not to a 2010 insurgent voter.
Is Newt an impure conservative? Yes. Is that bad? Not to a 2010 insurgent voter.
Is Newt pissing off the GOP establishment? Yes. Is that the primary goal of the 2010 insurgent voter?