White Republicans in South Carolina (a redundancy) voted in their January 21 primary in a manner which will ensure the reelection of Barack Obama as president of the United States of America. They voted for Newt Gingrich. It is widely believed, even by the Republican establishment, that Newt Gingrich cannot win in a general election because both his personal and professional past are filled with events many Americans disdain. He is viewed so unfavorably by so many Americans he would lose to President Barack Obama by a landslide in a general election.
Newt Gingrich’s campaign limped into South Carolina mortally wounded by the millions of dollars spent in Iowa pinning down his dark history. A loss here and he would have been a cooked goose on the splintered wooden table of a poor family from a Charles Dickens story, but Newt knew the caliber of the intellectual territory the campaign faced in South Carolina and how to manipulate it in his favor. He closed down his intellectual approach and made speeches that appealed to the raw emotions of his audiences. He spoke in racial codes, calling the president “The food stamp president” and sent out other similar dog whistles to a people so intellectually underdeveloped on the question of race that they fly the Confederate flag and are willing to refight the Civil War. Newt showed them the level of disrespect for Barack Obama he needed to, to emerge the winner of the South Carolina primary where many share in his disrespect for the president. This win gave Newt Gingrich renewed political life that may well propel him to the Republican nomination and a certain national defeat.
At the beginning of the South Carolina campaign, it appeared Mitt Romney had won two consecutive primaries, Iowa and New Hampshire. As it turned out Romney placed a close second in Iowa, but boosted by his victory in New Hampshire, his candidacy was still gaining an air of certain victory. He entered South Carolina leading in the polls. All of the nation’s political experts declared that Romney was the most electable of the candidates and he would go on to win the nomination if he won in South Carolina. Romney’s more moderate appeal gave him the better shot at defeating Barack Obama in a national election by convincing a sizable portion of the 75 percent of the electorate that are not solidly anti-Obama that he’d make a better president. The Republican base in South Carolina can’t stand President Obama. It would seem that they would do anything to defeat him, even vote for the candidate with the better chance of victory although his manner was too mild for their taste and he has, in their minds, the wrong religious affiliation. A large portion of the South Carolina Republication base is evangelicals with theological differences with Romney’s Mormon faith and, although Mormonism disavowed polygamy over a century ago, it is still considered a disqualifier by evangelical voters nationwide. Ironically, they voted against the candidate with the apparent strongest personal family values to vote for the candidate whose married life has been lived in a kind of decriminalized polygamist manner with multi divorces and infidelities. How did this happen? The anti-Obama people in South Carolina are either blinded with hatred for the president or they are the biggest hypocrites in the world.
I think they were seduced by Newt Gingrich’s bombastic political style tailored especially to their combative sensitivities invoked their passionate hatred of the president and they were blinded by the goal of defeating him; they didn’t just want to bloody his nose, they wanted to knock him out, to paraphrase Gingrich. “Never hate so passionately that it blinds you,” I’ll tell my grandchildren and recall this episode to illustrate the point. In wanting to see the president manhandled by a bomb thrower, South Carolina Republicans lost sight of reality and voted as if they were Obama’s Trojan horse loading failure into the Republican nomination process; failure which will only ensure Obama’s reelection. Just when the movement to defeat Obama was going so well, along comes this odd looking gift the voters of South Carolina handed the rest of the country, a win that will result in defeat. With a congressman who shouted “You lie” at the president of the United States of America, you just know at the grassroots, these people are not ready for this more sophisticated art of politics.
South Carolina Republican voters would also make bad chess players. Politics, like chess, is played best the more moves one can see down the road. The best chess players are dispassionate when it comes to which piece captures the opponent’s king. A checkmate by a cleverly moved pawn is as sweet as a checkmate by a powerful knight, but the player has to recognize and react to the true nature of reality on the board, you can’t force your knight to make the capture if it is not in the position to do so and you’re a loser when you don’t use the piece in the best position to make the win just to suit your whims. South Carolina has played its significant card in the 2012 presidential race: helping Obama by giving Gingrich a boost, knowing that its 7 electoral votes have been preempted in the Democratic electoral strategy.
The outcome in South Carolina has awakened the anxiety of the Republican Party’s big wigs. They fear that South Carolina has placed the entire party in peril. They fear that a Gingrich presidential candidacy would damage the party’s candidates up and down the line, so they are trying to undo the South Carolina results by speaking out against Gingrich. They are desperate to make the South Carolina outcome an aberration. They are speaking out to stop Gingrich in Florida; they want to slow his momentum and ultimately kill his candidacy. One can only look on in utter amazement as Republican pillars from Ann Coulter to Bob Dole warn against the nomination of Nuclear Newt. Even the former House majority leader and former exterminator of household pests and democracy (and soon to be jailbird), Tom DeLay has called Gingrich an erratic leader as speaker of the House. Wow! South Carolina’s conservatives are further out there in space then Ann (our blacks are better than their blacks) Coulter and Tom (roach-spray) DeLay!
It’s entirely possible that the rest of the Republican primary voters would ignore the pleas for sanity from the pragmatists in the Republication Party because they would rather see the president disrespected in the most degrading manner Gingrich can deliver to them. For them, that might be far more fulfilling than defeating this first Black president who is slowly straightening this mess out without any support from them or any help from their leaders in the government. This way they can continue to gripe as the great majority of them benefit from the policies the president so painstakingly put into place. Who knows a better way to eat and have your cake at the same time?
Another possibility is that Newt Gingrich may turn out to be more persuasive than polls measure; the country may be more resigned to the fact that although Obama is a good president, Republicans won’t cooperate in legislation to move the country ahead until there is a white president, any white president. But I don’t think this is what the voters of South Carolina were thinking when they selected Newt Gingrich.