This is why Fox News makes people dumber than if they watched no news. After Thursday night's mind-numbing sixty bazillionth debate between the GOP
clowns candidates for President, Sean Hannity teamed up with his pal Frankie "The Hair" Luntz to spin the candidates for viewers. Their take on Newt Gingrich was pretty cynically stunning, beginning with Hannity's first question to Luntz:
HANNITY: Let me just ask you this. So, did he have a good opening, did he have a strong opening? Obviously his answer on judges, what did you think of that answer?
LUNTZ: The answer on judges, the answer on the pipeline. When he was focused on Barack Obama, he was at his most effective and in fact, the judges response, got among the highest applause. Also, his position on Iran is clearly in the mainstream of the Republican Party.
For Newt, the second half of the debate was redefining for him. The first half was tough.
Um, ok. For the record, Newt's position on Iran is a direct application of the Bush doctrine:
"I think replacing the regime before they get a nuclear weapon without a war beats replacing the regime with war, which beats allowing them to have a nuclear weapon. Those are your three choices."
I'm not even sure what that means. Assassination of every mullah in Iran? What? But just as Bush did, Newt believes in pre-emptive prevention; that is, assume the worst and start wars to stop it, which in the process creates a worse worst case.
Hannity and Luntz didn't stop there. They went on to extol Newt as "the historian" in an effort to distract their audience from the Real Newt Gingrich.
HANNITY: What about the issue, you know, it's funny, I think he joked about, you know, I'm zany, I'm using using mild words, and then he used some very tough words here, that it was mindless and especially irrational, the President's policy, I believe at that point it was on energy.
Obviously he's responding to Mitt Romney. When he's on stage and obviously he's risen in the polls because of these debates, when he's on stage does he counter that argument that narrative that his opponents are trying to advance on him?
LUNTZ: Absolutely. When he's playing the historian, that's why he went from 4 percent in the polls up to over 30 percent. But when he's put in the position of politician and on defense, that's the negative that he wants to try to change. For him the narrative is, is it about his ideas, or is is about his politics. The ideas win. The politics don't.
C'mon. We all know the real Newt. He's the guy who shut down the government in the 90s when Clinton was president, has never been shy about engaging in self-serving government activity, and rewrites history whenever he feels like it. Still, this is not about Newt the person. This is about Newt the candidate, and what gets Hannity hot and flustered over him isn't what he says but how he says it. I pulled a video clip from the debate before this one but didn't get around to posting on it that shows how that works.
Note that he is simply spouting the standard Republican tax nonsense in this answer. No estate tax, no capital gains, blah blah blah. Nothing new. But it's his arrogant tone and pedantic delivery that gets the attention.
But when it comes to an overarching theory of conservative righteousness and snarling contempt for liberals, he's the only politician in the party who can do it with the kind of panache the folks usually only get from wingnut giants like Limbaugh and Coulter. He just sounds like one of them. He's the original Glenn Beck, but smarter and without all the Mormonism and kooky conspiracy mongering.
Right, and it's red meat for the base. It could carry him through the primaries, but I think they'd have to find a red-meat vice presidential nominee a la Palin for the general. Not to worry, though. Hannity and Luntz will get his back by distracting voters from True Newt and directing them to the switch -- Newt as historian and scholar.