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February 21, 2013 11:15 AM Newt’s Dish Served Cold

By Ed Kilgore

The latest fiery arrow aimed at Karl Rove from a fellow-conservative was shot from an interesting bow: that of one Newt Gingrich, who assaults the Boy Genius at the High Orthodox Wingnut altar of Human Events.

Newt doesn’t, however, just go after Rove for the sin of suggesting that excessively rigid conservative ideology might have been a factor in 2012 Senate losses, sacriligious as that might be. In bashing both Rove and former Romney campaign manager Stuart Stevens, Gingrich goes after the very idea of campaign consultants being in charge of political messaging:

Republicans need to drop the consultant-centric model and go back to a system in which candidates have to think and consultants are adviser and implementers but understand that the elected official is the one who has to represent the voters and make the key decisions.

Yeah, you’d have to figure that’s been a real bone in the craw for Gingrich. He was large and in charge of the Republican Revolution of the ’90s, a self-created Philosopher King who did the thinking and the doing, the campaigning and the legislating, the strategizing and the envisioning, babbling incessantly in his every waking hour, acutely aware of his place in history and probably eyeing open spaces in the Washington landscape for his heroic memorial. Yet after his fall from power and expulsion from the Emerald City, it didn’t take long at all before he was replaced as titan of the GOP and of the conservative movement by George W. Bush, who couldn’t even pronounce “strategy,” and was perfectly happy to leave all the heavy thinking to his overtly sinister little friend Mr. Rove.

It’s been just a matter of time before the conservative effort to blame Bush for the GOP’s problems extended to the guy who thought up all the heresies that constituted the 43d president’s “betrayal of conservative principle” and “big government Republicanism”—you know, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Rx Drugs, comprehensive immigration reform, and “deficits don’t matter.” Rove’s conspicuously poor 2012 report card as the GOP’s biggest bag man, and then his recent threats to muddle around in Republican primaries, were sure to bring down the long-overdue Wrath of the Right. But for Newt Gingrich, Rove’s troubles probably feel like an even longer-overdue vindication of his leadership, and a well-deserved comeuppance for the Mayberry Machiavellis.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Josef K on February 21, 2013 11:29 AM:

    Gingrich goes after the very idea of campaign consultants being in charge of political messaging

    Be fair. The man was ousted from the #3 spot in the Presidential line of succession roughly 15 years ago. Since then, nobody has taken his advice seriously and his entire tenure in the Speaker's chair viewed as...well, a joke.

    The guy has gotta be feeling more than a little agrieved. The fact that inexcusable murder of innocent trees called Human Events gave him space to vent is simply another sad commentary on his fall; I've never been clear about what 'humans' the publication was aiming for, but it certainly wasn't the thinking variety.

  • max on February 21, 2013 11:43 AM:

    Roveís conspicuously poor 2012 report card as the GOPís biggest bag man, and then his recent threats to muddle around in Republican primaries, were sure to bring down the long-overdue Wrath of the Right.

    He's had quite a few poor report cards, and I've never been convinced he was that smart (and that Bush was that dumb). The political brains in that outfit was George W., not Rove. (As Rove has been busy demonstrating.) No Junior, no Rove.

    As for Newt, well, he's got a point. He is the smartest pygmy amongst a collection of toadstools.

    max
    ['And his argument for not letting the campaign consultants run the show is correct.']

  • Daniel Buck on February 21, 2013 12:57 PM:

    Ed, you are forgetting that Gingrich is the guy that gave pollster/political consultant Frank Luntz a prominent place at the GOP table in the mid-1990s. Gingrich was, shall we say, the Karl Rove of that era, and Luntz was his word-wizard & promoter, author of the famous "speak like Newt" memo.

    In the end, it all worked out about as well for Gingrich & Luntz as it did for Karl Rove. Dan

  • mb on February 21, 2013 1:04 PM:

    How does the GOP not split into at least two parties? And soon. IMHO, it's either that or surrender to the march of the morons. I don't see how the Rove wing makes long term peace with the DeMint(ed) wing. With folks like DeMint now doing the deep thinkin' for the right, the strategists' role looks more and more suicidal. I hear the distant sound of tiny violins playing for the GOP. Sweet, really.

  • T-Rex on February 21, 2013 1:31 PM:

    When thieves fall out, honest men come into their own.

    mb, the GOP has already drummed enough "RINOs" out of its ranks to form a pretty respectable-sized party. The only thing that puzzles me is why they're waiting so long to do it.

  • Peter C on February 21, 2013 2:52 PM:

    "the elected official is the one who has to represent the voters and make the key decisions."

    Ah, this is the 'decider' myth again, I see.

    As for 'represent the voters' - HA!

  • thebewilderness on February 21, 2013 3:21 PM:

    This from the thinker who thinks the high unemployment problem is caused by child labor laws and the minimum wage?
    Criminy!

  • R on February 21, 2013 3:35 PM:

    W's "overtly sinister little friend Rove" -- you do have a way with words, Ed!