Now that Trump’s the all-but-certain nominee, we should probably huddle and get on the same page about the GOP’s new rules of the road.
Namely, am I right in thinking that who qualifies as “elite” for purposes of right-wing agitation now depends entirely on how much or how little they’re willing to kiss Trump’s ass? It didn’t used to be that way, you know.
Back when the party was more principled and more conservative, whether you were “elite” or not depended on how willing you were to kiss, say, Rush Limbaugh’s or Sarah Palin’s ass. But that was a simpler time.
Anyway, Newt Gingrich tweeted this earlier today and Trump critics were having belly laughs over it.
Newt farking Gingrich, lecturing other people about their elitism. He’s an academic by trade. He’s been a Beltway fixture for nearly 40 years, half that time as a congressman and Speaker and half as a regular in the conservative media complex. He’s a rich man thanks to his businesses and the lecture circuit.
There’s not a political cocktail party in America that he couldn’t get into. He might as well have a recurring part on “House of Cards.” If Newt’s not “elite,” who is? I don’t mean that rhetorically; I’m asking sincerely. If Newt Gingrich no longer qualifies as elite, is there anyone so elite that the stain of elitism can’t be expunged even by slobbering regularly over Trump?
I’ll spot you Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but their elite status is partly a product of their positions. Righty populists need a font of all evil to rail against and that’s the Republican leadership in Congress. McConnell and Ryan are necessary villains. Is there anyone else in that category, though? Similarly, is there such a thing as a populist in good standing who’s anti-Trump? Mike Lee, for instance, got elected to the Senate six years ago when grassroots tea partiers tossed out Bob Bennett on his ear at the state convention. He’s been a firm anti-establishment conservative ever since. He’s also a Cruz ally and a Trump opponent, as principled conservatives tend to be. Does Lee still qualify as populist or is he, if not an elitist himself, some sort of elite stooge? Like I say, we should all get straight on the rules.
(Related: If Trump clinches at the convention and Cruz endorses him wholeheartedly, does Cruz get to call himself a populist again? It depends on the degree of ass-kissing, I assume.)
One more question. If Newt thinks Trump’s message is such hot stuff, why didn’t he run the same campaign in 2012 against Romney? There’s nothing novel about what Trump’s pitching. Reform conservatives have been begging the GOP for years to forget about entrepreneurs and pay more attention to the white working class, which has been suffering economically and absorbing the attendant pathologies that come with that. There’s always been a market, comparatively narrow but deep, on the right for isolationism and protectionism.
Take all of that and combine it with frustration at the Republican Party’s perceived inability and/or unwillingness, in the case of immigration, to forcefully oppose the left’s agenda and all of the key bits of Trump’s populist program could have been pushed hard four years ago. Romney was a perfect foil for it too. Gingrich had every opportunity, but he ran as a conventional Republican pol — experienced, a brilliant technocrat bursting with policy ideas, a fighter for conservative values per his leadership on the Contract With America.
Newt was a conventional hawk, not the sort of America-Firster that Trump presents himself as. How is it, then, that he “gets it” while the so-called elites don’t? And how did this guy, one of the most famously intelligent Republicans in America, decide that the hallmark of a solid foreign-policy speech is, um, emphasizing American interests? Said one Twitter pal to Newt, “You were a history professor. Reflect on how you ended up here.” Trumpism corrupts. And in Newt’s case, absolute Trumpism corrupts absolutely.
Here’s Gingrich last night on Hannity, another multimillionaire media staple who is definitely not elite, proving their non-elitism by pushing some Trump talking points. And below that, as a special bonus via the Daily Rushbo, enjoy a call from today’s Rush Limbaugh show that perfectly captures the spirit of the movement that Newt Gingrich, intellectual, has now allied himself with. I need an Excedrin.