While Rihanna clearly wasn’t thinkin’ Newt Gingrich when she cut her newest off-the-chain smash hit, the reprise sounds SPOT ON tonight!
Thirty-two years. Six contested primaries. Trends. History. Conventional wisdom. Will history reflect that this was all sacrificed on the alter of Newt today? South Carolina has, since 1980, played the firewall for the Republican establishment, stopping the party from going into a hair-on-fire “Thelma and Louise” moment like in 1964. In six presidential campaigns, it thwarted social conservatives bolstered by Iowa, and anti-establishment challengers propelled by New Hampshire. South Carolina’s Republicans picked the solid, the heavy, the guy with the best chance to win. Here they go:
The Big Six
1980: Ronald Reagan
1988: George H. W. Bush
1992: George H. W. Bush
1996: Bob Dole
2000: George W. Bush
2008: John McCain
But that changed today. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich — a gentleman who removed from politics still may be assessed by his haters as reprehensible for his personality and behavior — came into South Carolina with zero delegates on the board and left as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney was such a milk-toasty, mediocre candidate that GOP voters proved to be ravenous for an alternative with a pulse.
The S.C. Republican base, for better or worse, has been conditioned over the last decade to be more vicious and aggressive. With the final round of debates, Gingrich fed right into that zeitgeist, making him the man of the hour. Let me say that in plain “horse talk:” Newt kicked natural ass!
One of my favorite permanent literal additions to the English language that stemmed from politics surfaced in the 2004 presidential campaign. Nowadays, whenever a candidate starts getting his (or her) ass kicked and they fail to get out in front of it, they are getting what we now call “swift-boated!” Remember that gem? Poor ol’ John Kerry. Well we have a new one folks. After Thursday night’s debate, whenever a journalist throws a poorly constructed softball question to a politician and get’s an atomic elbow drop in reply, they shall heretofore be deemed to have been “John King’d!” This warrants a little discussion.
People’s sex lives, fetishes, lovers’ quarrels, orientation proclivities and yes, even “unit sizes” are not news. Not fair game. Not relevant. UNLESS, that is, they expose hypocrisy. Once hypocrisy enters into the equation, all bets are off. So this arm-chair politico-wannabe has a question for John King. And I ain’t addressing my man, Rep. John “Aura” King. (D-York). I’m talkin’ to the big dawg CNN journalist who held the distinct honor and privilege of single-handily moderating what has proven to be the most important GOP presidential debate of the year. And provoking the most poignant candidate response in modern political history.
Mr. King: Why the Hell’s Halfacre would you not ask your opening question like this: ” Mr. Speaker, your ex-wife says you wanted an ‘open marriage,’ yet you are touting yourself as the right choice for the Christian evangelicals of South Carolina. Some view that as a contradiction. Do you?” Or, maybe, “Mr. Speaker, at the same time you were leading the movement to impeach Bill Clinton on moral grounds, your ex-wife, in an interview today, claims you were asking her for an ‘open marriage.’ Do you not view this as hypocritical, sir?” It’s not rocket science, man. And I don’t even have an entire NETWORK at my disposal to figure this stuff out. But enough already, here’s what happened.
John King looked downright “Keith Olbermann smug” when he opened the debate by lofting Newt a slow-pitch, underhand middle-school softball: “Your ex-wife has made accusations today that you asked her for a ‘open marriage,’ would you like to take some time to respond to that?“
Newt: “No. But I will.” And then — check out this EPIC performance:
So let’s take Newt’s two Herculean performances in this week’s debates and couple them with Mitt Romney’s anemic week. After numerous “I’m not going to apologize for being successful” statements, he pretty much started apologizing for being successful. [You read that right.] After being stymied Tuesday when asked about disclosing his tax records, “Mittens” went into his usual full-panic in front of the cameras and got walloped a second time Thursday night when asked– again– if he would disclose his tax records, a campaign move that was a signature of his father. Mitt’s nervous response: “mmmuh muh muh maybe!?!” Then proceeded to kick the can down the road a couple months. COME ON DUDE! Now, he announces he will disclose 2010 taxes on Tuesday, the State of the Union Speech Day. Too little too late for S.C., Pal!
Newt trounced Romney in South Carolina. It wasn’t quite a “Orange Bowl Ass-Whuppin’,” but it wasn’t far from it, folks!
With 2,126 of 2,129 precincts reporting:
Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich | 40.45 percent (23 delegates won, 25 total delegates)
Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney | 27.83 percent (0 delegates won, 33 total delegates)
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum | 16.98 percent (0 delegates won, 14 total delegates)
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul | 12.97 percent (0 delegates won, 4 total delegates)
Could Romney rebound? Anything’s possible, as this GOP nomination fight sets a new paradigm. With the candidates moving on to Florida, Real Clear Politics had a 18.5-point advantage for the man from Massachusetts. But as of Monday, that lead is GONE and Newt Gingrich has soared to the lead: 41% to 32% accouring to the latest Rasmussen Poll.Talk about a South Carolina BOOST!!! Newt Gingrich whipping Mitt’s ass like the honey badger on a cobra: and as Randall has told us , “the Honey Badger just don’t give a shit!” (and this ain’t a link to the Gabriele Giffords retirement video folks!)
So, while the honey badger don’t care, the Bubbster sure does. About YOUR opinion, that is. So whether you’re fired up about the Newtster, deflated and embarrassed for Romney and Ron Paul (My Man), or feel like your prayers went unanswered for St. Santorum, I wanna hear from you. Hey, even if you’d rather be suckin’ down a cold one with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz than reading this, I still want to hear what YOU think about this historical moment in politics. So hit me!
by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., an Attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia. He received his BA in 1985 from Clemson University and his JD in 1988 from the University of South Carolina School of Law.