Newt - onian Politics
The Republican establishment is more than a little discomfitted by Newt Gingrich's ascendancy to leader of the pack. They wished for anybody but Romney and got their wish.
Why, though, is the base so infatuated by the man? While Romney, who actually is fairly smart, has had to spend his time pretending to be dumb, this actually opened up an opportunity for Newt to do his famed "Stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like" act. He has mastered the art of saying the most egregious nonsense in a fairly convincing way. Of course Romney, too, has been willing to lie his ass off in pursuit of higher office, but he just doesn't have Newt's skill. It might be a matter of experience. The business man married to one woman forever guy just doesn't have the practice in prevarication that the crony capitalist and serial womanizer developed.
Kevin Drum takes a typically penetrating look in Newt Gingrich, Intellectual. My favorite paragraph:
A week ago one of Andrew Sullivan's readers provided the sound bite version of this theory:
As much as the commentariat likes to talk about electability, the just-regular-folks I spent the holidays with talked only about how Newt would "hammer" the President during debates. "Can you imagine," my sister said, her eyes as lit-up as a child's on Christmas morning. "When Obama starts that smartest-guy-in-the-room shit, Newt'll shut him up." No one talked about policy or even politics. This is a mob storming the Bastille, cheering the guillotine, and Gingrich is their most likely Robespierre.
Of course Gingrich's actual intellectual credentials are on the C+ side - A PhD in history who failed to get tenure at a school nobody has ever heard of - but he has mastered the art of saying "fundamentally" a lot. He is a skilled debater though - something Obama hasn't really demonstrated.