I try to understand Republicans. I really do. I certainly study them enough. In some ways, they are the most predictable of creatures, but in other ways you can never anticipate what they’re going to do. Rachel Maddow had a hilarious segment on her show last night where she laid out the case that Herman Cain is engaged in performance art and that his whole campaign is a prank. Part of her evidence is that Herman Cain has been quoting the Pokemon movie theme song but claiming that he is quoting a poet.

I referred to a different possibility last week, that Newt Gingrich might be the next flavor of the week. The latest ABC News-Washington Post Poll shows that Gingrich has cracked double-figures and is on the rise. He also had his best fundraising month in October, and a plurality of Republicans think he’s done the best job in the debates.

After Cain and Gingrich, I think the Republicans will be done window-shopping for a candidate. It doesn’t appear that Rick Perry is an acceptable alternative to Romney, and the GOP base isn’t going to suddenly embrace Ron Paul or Gary Johnson. That leaves only Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman as potential candidates-on-the-rise, and I don’t see that happening.

Here’s what we can look forward to if Newt wins the Republican nomination:

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich promised on Friday evening in Iowa that if he wins his party’s nomination, he will follow President Obama around the country until Obama accepts a challenge to participate in Lincoln-Douglas style debates.

“I promise you, if you will help me on January 3, if I end up as the nominee, in my acceptance speech, if the president has not yet agreed, I will announce from that day forward for the rest of the campaign, the White House will be my scheduler,” Gingrich said. “And wherever the president appears, I will appear four hours later.”

Gingrich said he would challenge Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates lasting three hours each with no moderator and only a timekeeper. “I will concede that he can use a teleprompter,” Gingrich said.

Here’s a refresher on the Stephen Douglas’s position on slavery during the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

Uniformity in the local laws and institutions of the different States is neither possible or desirable. If uniformity had been adopted when the Government was established, it must inevitably have been the uniformity of slavery everywhere, or else the uniformity of negro citizenship and negro equality everywhere.

I ask you, are you in favor of conferring upon the negro the rights and privileges of citizenship? (“No, no.”) Do you desire to strike out of our State Constitution that clause which keeps slaves and free niggers out of the State, and allow the free negroes to flow in, (“never,”) and cover your prairies with black settlements? Do you desire to turn this beautiful State into a free negro colony, (“no, no no,”) in order that when Missouri abolishes slavery she can send one hundred thousand emancipated slaves into Illinois, to become citizens and voters, on an equality with yourselves? (“Never,” “no.”) If you desire negro citizenship,(“yes, yes…yes”) if you desire to allow them to come into the State and settle with the white man, if you desire them to vote on an equality with yourselves, and to make them eligible to office, to serve on juries, and to adjudge your rights, then support Mr. Lincoln and the Black Republican party, who are in favor of the citizenship of the negro. (“Never, never.”) For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. (“yes, yes”)(Cheers.) Yes it is true I believe this Government was made on the white basis. (“Good good good.”) I believe it was made by white men are over the negros for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races. (“Good Good,” and “good for you.”) (“Douglas forever.”)(“Yes Yes,No No”)

Newt Gingrich doesn’t make that argument. Instead, he says that President Obama is the “most successful food stamp President in history,” and that “the Obama system is going to lead us down the path towards Detroit and destruction.” Or, as Joan Walsh summarized Gingrich’s campaign:

So let’s review: Welfare slur? Check. Tie to a troubled, mainly black city? Check. Specious association with African anti-colonialism? Check. Dire reference to Lincoln and the start of the Civil War, while campaigning deep in the heart of Dixie? Check. Suggestion we need a voter test? Check. Oh, and for good measure, calling liberals concerned about racial injustice “racist”? Check. Awesome: They’ve hit pretty much every way the GOP has used to divide Americans by race in the last 200 years!

Great job, Newt. You’ve developed the perfect platform to run a spirited GOP campaign that attracts a cadre of aggrieved white people.

Which may be why he’s on the rise in the polls. After all, developing a perfect platform to attract a cadre of aggrieved white people is what the Republican Party is all about. And let’s not forget that Gingrich was an early adopter of the Sharia Law lunacy. Everything about Gingrich’s campaign is completely predictable. But, what wasn’t predictable was that he’d be losing to a black man who quotes Pokemon.

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