Newt Gingrich: Do Not Misunderestimate Joe Biden's Brilliant Capacity For Eeeevil
Back in 1994, Newt Gingrich infamously teamed up with political consultant Frank Luntz to churn out a memo to guide Republicans in using focus group-tested emotional language to gin up fear and loathing toward Democrats. The document included a list of terms recommended for media appearances, to associate Democrats with ideas like "destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… welfare… corrupt… selfish…" and the like.
Newt never forgot that lesson, at least, so it should be little surprise that, following the failure of the midterm elections to sweep in a "red wave" of Republicans in Congress, the sleazy old philanderer (we can do it too!) has published a sort of 2022 postmortem that purports to warn Republicans, "Quit underestimating President Biden," which is less an analysis of where Republicans went wrong as it is a blueprint of how to try to smear Biden more effectively over the coming two years. If there is any analysis here, it boils down to: Crazy conspiracy theories, white victimhood, and grievance didn't do the job in 2022, so for 2024 let's focus on the grievance and victimhood instead.
Gingrich does at least give a tiny nod to acknowledging that part of the problem with Republicans' performance in the midterms arose from living inside their partisan bubble. But only a hint, and it's couched in terms of why Joe Biden is so very very dangerous to America and everything Real Americans believe in.
Here's the setup, which is disingenuous from the get-go:
Like most Americans, I do not approve of the job he is doing. Like virtually all conservatives and Republicans, I deeply oppose his policies. They are clearly weakening America and strengthening our enemies. And, again, like most Americans, I oppose the woke policies which are undermining and threatening to destroy popular, unique, shared American culture.
Somewhere, Frank Luntz is looking at that old memo and whispering, "Good. Good. Let your hatred flow." And here's the closest Gingrich gets to accurate self-reflection. Notice how the problem isn't so much that Republicans are deluded about their own biases; rather, they simply need to not let Biden outfox them, even if he's senile.
However, conservatives’ hostility to the Biden administration on our terms tends to blind us to just how effective Biden has been on his terms. He has only built upon and fortified the left-wing Big Government Socialist woke culture system.
We dislike Biden so much, we pettily focus on his speaking difficulties, sometimes strange behavior, clear lapses of memory, and other personal flaws. Our aversion to him and his policies makes us underestimate him and the Democrats.
Carefully left out: any suggestion that most Americans like functioning government, don't give two shits about most rightwing Fox News obsessions, and don't share Republicans' weird resentments. So hey, let's call Biden senile more, and maybe that'll stick.
Like other amiable geezers, Biden slides by on seeming like he's not as dangerous as he really is, although that was a virtue when the geezers were Republicans:
But remember: Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan both preferred to be underestimated. Both wanted people to think of them as pleasant – but not dangerous. They found being underestimated was a major asset. While people laughed at them, they were busy achieving their goals and getting their programs implemented.
Biden has achieved something similar.
That fiend! The entire piece is a remarkable achievement of Luntzian misdirection, substituting whining for any real analysis of why Republicans failed to connect with voters.
Donald Trump gets mentioned, but not as a liability for the party, heavens no! Instead, Gingrich explains how he and other Republicans knew they were right about all the issues (for which they never offered solutions), but were sneakily outmaneuvered by those divisive, unscrupulous Dems and their media lapdogs. Just LOOK at this shit:
Despite terrible problems with the economy, crime, and the border (which led many analysts, me included, to assume the GOP would make big gains in November) Biden and his team executed a strategy of polarizing Americans against Donald Trump supporters. They turned Jan. 6 into a crisis which eclipsed the Left’s previous summer of fire, chaos, and destruction. They also grossly exaggerated the threat to abortion rights. And it all worked.
Threat to democracy? Insane conspiracy theories about a stolen 2020 election? Those didn't hurt Republicans at all! No, it was just those sneaky Democrats reframing the real threat to America (rioting Black people who burned American cities to the ground over and over again) by acting as if January 6 was somehow a big deal and that given the chance, some states might in fact outlaw abortion.
Say, what did that old memo recommend? For starters, it emphasized creating contrasts between the parties, using all that emotional, negative language:
Often we search hard for words to help us 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.
Gross exaggeration. Democrats polarized Americans against Trump supporters. Fire, chaos, and destruction.
Even his grudging acknowledgement of Biden's successful first two years sticks to the formula. For your in-class exercise, underline the emotional language in the following passage. No, you in the back, don't write on your laptop screen again.
The Biden team took an amazingly narrow four-vote majority in the U.S. House and a 50-50 tie in the Senate and turned it into trillions of dollars in spending – and a series of radical bills. The latest bill on sexual rights overriding all other rights was bitterly opposed by virtually every conservative even as it passed with Republican support. [...]
The Biden team had one of the best first term off-year elections in history. They were not repudiated. They did not have to pay for their terrible mismanagement of the economy. [...]
Thank goodness Newt has provided such a careful autopsy of how Republicans missed their chances, with this thoughtful self-criticism. He even admits that Republicans really need to admit and understand that "our system and approach failed." Indeed, he warns,
We need to rethink from the ground up how we are going to Defeat Big Government Socialism – including almost inevitable second-time Democrat Presidential Nominee Biden.
Why yes, the link there is to Gingrich's latest book. He really does understand what winning is all about.
[Gingrich 360 / FAIR / Image created using Stable Diffusion AI]
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