Posted by: Rick | Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Republican Identity Politics

Ron Paul is running an ad in Iowa that accuses Newt Gingrich of being a flip-flopper. The ad is accurate, but so what? The charge can’t really stick, because Mitt Romney has cornered the market on flip-flopping. He’s the Michael Jordan of flip-floppers. He sucks the flip-flopping oxygen out of any room he’s in.

Every one of the GOP candidates (even Jon Huntsman — have you seen his tax plan?) is a right-wing extremist. The current campaign is simply a search for who can best harness the rage that Republican base voters feel toward Barack Obama. For the candidates, the campaign isn’t about showing you can govern. It’s about projecting your strength through your identity. In terms of identity, Perry is the Blow-Dried Dumb Guy; Bachmann is the Lightweight Milf; Cain (was) the Straight-Talking Outsider; and so on. Mitt Romney wants to be the Smart Businessman, but right now he’s just the Shameless Flip-Flopper.

Newt Gingrich has been saying and doing questionable things for a long time, and there are plenty of ways to attack him. (As Joan Walsh said, Newt’s baggage has baggage.) But if he gets called a flip-flopper, all he has to do is start going after Romney. He can even be a little nasty about it, since everybody knows it’s true.

Nobody expects Newt to be Prince Charming.



  1. The flip flop is obviously understandable politically, but also illustrates why Romney is such a weak presidential candidate. His record gives absolutely zero indication of what his political ideology actually is — if he even has one — or what he would do if he was the President of the United States.


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