Uncle! Uncle Newt, That Is

By James Fallows

Last night I manfully argued that it was worth trying to turn some of the spotlight away from the carnival that is the Newt Gingrich campaign.

Just now Andrew Sullivan has asked: are we really supposed to resist the likes of this? It's a statement from one of Gingrich's spokesmen about the rocky start to his campaign:

>>"The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces."<<

And the answer to Andrew's question is: Of course not! No one could. For people in our business this passage will be the new standing definition of "irresistible temptation." Or of that other familiar conceit, Hathos.

At the same time, as with a Glenn Beck broadcast, the very qualities that make outbursts like this so fascinating and delicious push Gingrich further from the realm of "someone with any chance whatsoever of being nominated" and toward Trump/Beck/Limbaugh-like entertainer-provocateur status, which also merits coverage but of a different kind. The kind, for instance, that the Atlantic's Josh Green has just demonstrated.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/uncle-uncle-newt-that-is/239112/