Somebody asked me last night what let Gingrichwin big in South Carolina. I think Michael Tomasky nails it:
This is what conservatives want. They want someone who can stand on a stage with Obama and say, “You are our nightmare. You are the destroyer. You are the un-American and the anti-Christ, and I smite you.” For conservatives, it’s personal with Obama. He blinds them with hatred.
So they don’t really want someone who can “beat” Barack Obama, which is the question the exit polls asked. They want someone who can humiliate him in prime-time television, put him in his place, expose him to the world such that all the deluded idiots in this country who still like Obama finally and blazingly acknowledge the
truth that has so long been obvious to them. As Newt supporter Sam Pimm told me at the Gingrich victory event, “I would buy a ticket to see Gingrich debate Obama. Newt versus Obama is going to be something to see.”
If winning stems from that, so much the better. Rank-and-file conservatives like Jim Dolbow believe it’s bound to. “He knows how to defeat liberals,” Dolbow said about Gingrich at the victory event. “He did it in 1994. He’s a liberal slayer.”
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.