Over the weekend, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney called in the strike to take former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s Florida camp out once and for all. Coming in the form of a television advertisement, Romney’s ad decisively proved that less is more; in this case, much more. How? By using a clip from the NBC Nightly News broadcast of January 21, 1997, in which veteran anchor Tom Brokaw detailed Gingrich’s wide reaching ethics scandal, and the hypocrisy associated with it. Despite speaking for less than thirty seconds, Brokaw laid out every reason why, essentially, the resigned speaker is the resigned speaker.
Beginning with a note on how Gingrich “preach(ed) a higher standard in American politics” and used this to topple his predecessor, Tom Foley, Brokaw let the hammer fall hard and fast:
He has on his own record, the judgment of his peers, Democrat and Republican alike. By an overwhelming vote, they found him guilty of ethics violations, they charged him a very large financial penalty, they raised….serious questions about his future effectiveness.
Though Brokaw could never have imagined that his monologue would be used so deftly in an ad, one cannot deny that it is a stunning diamond in the coal pile for any of Gingrich’s opponents. In this case, Romney used it to perfection, finding a generally well liked third party to deliver the message which he has been struggling to communicate throughout his campaign: Gingrich is not only unelectable, but a corrupt politician. The unsaid point of the latter playing his voters for fools is exactly that, but none too difficult to deduce.
If there are any of my fellow Republicans who still believe that Gingrich is what he has been billing himself as: an outsider, true conservative, or populist reformer, then I honestly do not know what to say. This race, not just in the Florida make-or-break primary on Tuesday, but has escalated across the country beyond the Romney/Gingrich battle. For an untold number, it is an all-out war against the center-right Dwight Eisenhower-Nelson Rockefeller faction of the Republican Party. Far-right activists, whether they be theoconservatives, hardcore bigots, or GOProletarians, are in a mad dash for electoral power, as they see the mainstream of American society moving away from them. Consequently, they are more reactionary than ever; exhibiting a collective rage that knows no bounds.
In the end, I believe that this ad will seal the deal for Romney in almost every swing state in which it is aired. While an onslaught of facts will never make a difference to the dreamers on the fringe, all Romney has to do to keep Gingrich at bay is to speak the objective truth. After a while, Gingrich will undoubtedly destroy himself in some fantastical manner and the wingnuts will crawl back into the woodwork.
Then, perhaps, President Barack Obama can be defeated and a new moderate majority built.