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Newt Gingrich overwhelmingly won the South Carolina Republican presidential primary Saturday by 12 points over the now-no-longer-perceived frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Let that sink in.
In the heart of the Confederacy, in the state that was the first to secede from Union and launch the bloodiest war in American history, an anti-government, anti-Washington constituency of family-values, bible-toting, states-rights advocates chose as their standard bearer a former Speaker of the House turned Fannie Mae lobbyist, thrice-married serial adulterer who sought divorces when his first wife was being treated for cancer and his second (who was his mistress in his first marriage) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Now, you could be glib and say, “Well, you can’t spell ‘SUCKERS’ without ‘S.C.'”
But something else is happening here.
If South Carolinians, the epitome of the Republican base, are not only comfortable with, but overwhelmingly assured in their selection of Gingrich over a definitely flawed, but verifiable Washington outsider who hasn’t provided a whiff of marital infidelity, then we have to accept the following:
1) The frenzied Tea Bagger eruption of “Washington is the problem. Throw the bums out” was a sham. They either never believed what they were saying, or they didn’t know what they were talking about.
2) The constant focus on the “family values” and morals of the Republican base is misdirected because they really don’t care about family values and morality.
They have been wasting our time since January 2009, the minute President Obama took office.
Then what do they really want?
Look, Mitt Romney was up by 10 points over the serial adulterer a week ago. Romney lost yesterday by 12 points, a 22 point turnaround in a week. What happened? Did Romney stomp a puppy to death on national TV while reading from the Koran and burning an American flag as he French kissed a drag queen?
Something cosmic had to have happened to turn voters around so. Right?
The 12-point win represented a swift and extraordinary turnaround in Gingrich’s fortunes — thanks largely to strong performances in two debates. In those forums, he issued a stirring appeal to the state’s strident conservatism, convinced its voters he would be a formidable opponent against President Obama and threw Romney off his stride.
You’re kidding, right? He bloviated?
What happened in the debate?
That was the turning point. As I’ve written before, Juan Williams is an opportunistic hack who schemed his way into a $2 million contract as what Vanity Fair aptly tags Fox News’s “Senior Black Correspondent.” But Williams is the perfect set up for Gingrich’s resurrection. Because whether you heard it or not, Newt blew into the dog whistle, and the base responded as trained.
OK, that to obscure for you? Let’s go to the Angry Black Lady:
You got that? Juan Williams asking Gingrich whether he could see that his comments were offensive to black people — asking, essentially, whether Gingrich has any empathy for those he derides — is “totally ludicrous.” So much so that Gingrich’s dickish answer (and the howls of agreement that ensued) somehow put Juan Williams in his place. Alrighty then. …
What I heard in that woman’s statement is “Thank you for putting that nigger Juan Williams in his place.” Newt heard it, too; you can tell by the look on his face upon hearing the woman’s praise — a slight smirk and a tiny glimmer in his eye. Newt knows what’s going on.
Of course Newt knows what’s going on. This primary was make or break. If Romney had won, it would have been clear sailing to the nomination for the Massachusetts Meanderthal (think I’ll copyright that tag). Newt pulled out all the stops. And he went to an old play book for a Southern strategy and threw a touchdown.
Dennis G. over at Balloon Juice recently resurrected the rotting corpse of Lee Atwater, the architect of the election strategies for Strom Thurmond, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (the Smarter, not the Dumber), to explain campaign code words.
Dennis then looks at recent GOP debates, before the Juan Williams throwdown, and concludes:
…the ugliness of the crowd and the code-talkers on the stage—is all firmly rooted in putrid soil of Atwater’s legacy. When Gingrich says Food Stamps he means “nigger”. When Perry says states’ rights he means “nigger”. And when Romney says President Obama doesn’t “shares our values” or that the race is about “saving the soul of America” he means “nigger”.
The Tea Party base doesn’t care about what happens in Washington. It doesn’t care what lobbyists do. It has no interest in getting rid of Beltway insiders. It doesn’t care about family values. Its views of morality are flexible. We learned that Saturday.
Those who voted for Gingrich have only one thing in mind. They want a candidate who’s going to put Barack Obama in his place. And Newt told them exactly what they wanted to hear.
But then, you can’t spell “racist” without “S.C.”