Epilogue—The Gingrichism spreads: Over the past several decades, Newt Gingrich has played a large, destructive role in the politicization of everything—in spreading the culture of tribal hatred, the culture which is so prevalent in modern American politics.
That said, tribalism wasn’t invented by Gingrich—and the Gingrichism has spread. On our One True Liberal Channel, our own tribe’s Gingrichism is quite evident now. We love to trash and name-call the other tribe. And by the rules of tribal war, we don’t have to make any sense!
Last night, on the Ed Show, Big Ed and Michael Eric Dyson kept raging against the things Gingrich has recently said about “really poor children in really poor neighborhoods.” Do our tribe’s words have to make any sense? Here’s how the thunder got started:
SCHULTZ (12/8/11): Let’s turn to Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC political analyst, who hosted this program last night. Thanks so much for doing that.See how scurrilous Gingrich is? The nation’s drug dealers are working hard too! Why won’t he come out and say so?
DYSON: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: He is a professor at Georgetown University and author of the book "Can You Hear Me Now?"
I’ll tell you, there’s a lot to hear when it comes to Newt Gingrich. I think that this rises to the level of racism, and I think he needs to be called on it. To broad-brush kids in a socioeconomic position that they do not have a work ethic I think speaks volumes of what this man thinks of humanity. What do you think?
DYSON: It’s scurrilous, Ed. Thanks for the opportunity again last night.
It’s scurrilous for him to make those kinds of charges. First of all, he’s flat-out wrong. To suggest that poor kids in the inner city have no models around them of hard work. Of course, they do.
Even when he made the slight that of course they don’t get—you know, I do this thing over here and then I get cash, unless it’s illegal. Well, first of all, those hustlers are working extremely hard. They may be unemployed, but they’re working, to be sure.
Dyson and Schultz thundered ahead, dropping their R-bombs all around. But Dyson’s comment illustrates a basic tenet of tribal culture:
When you’re thundering against the very bad people in some other tribe, absolutely nothing you say has to make any real sense. It's all about the thrills up the leg. It's all about the invective.
For ourselves, we sympathize with the life situations which lead some really poor children to become drug dealers. Based on other things we’ve seen him say, we assume that Dyson does too. But last night, our Gingrichism reached the point where we were offering ridiculous bromides like this. Of course our really poor children have working role models! Drug dealers are hard-working too!
Gingrich and his Gingrichism have had a noxious effect on our political culture. But the Gingrichism has crept and burgeoned. On our increasingly bombastic “liberal” channel, the Gingrichism has become us. We're Newt Gingrich too!
This is very bad for the nation. A modern nation can’t function this way. Who could really think different?
David Brooks gets it right: We’d say that David Brooks gets it right about Gingrichism in this morning’s column. In this passage, he discusses Gingrich’s bombastic, hatred-based, demagogic rhetorical style:
BROOKS (12/9/11): Then there is his rhetorical style. He seems to have understood that a moderate Republican like himself can win so long as he adopts a bombastic style when taking on the liberal elites. Most people just want somebody who can articulate their hatreds, and Gingrich is demagogically happy to play the role.For ourselves, we would stay away from sweeping characterizations of different generations or population cohorts. But Gingrich does exhibit the unfortunate traits listed by Brooks “in Republican form.” We would only add this point:
In the two main Republican contenders, we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.
Increasingly, those same traits are being displayed in pseudo-liberal form. This serves no progressive interest. Though lord, how it makes us feel good!