Monday, January 23, 2012

The PLON Ploy

Dear Madame L,

I'm guessing you're happy that Newt Gingrich won so strongly in South Carolina. But I'm wondering what you think about his performances in the last two debates there, where he played so brilliantly to the audience's many prejudices.


Disaster-Avoidant Republican

Dear Disaster-Avoidant,

Madame L thanks you for your question but wonders what you and other disaster-avoidant Republicans are going to do about Newt. Because the subtext for your question is obviously that the Republican Party leadership recognize that if Gingrich does actually become their nominee, they would be handing the Democratic Party a great gift.

Whenever such a non-Party-approved candidate, whether Republican or Democratic, has made such a strong showing in the past, the parties have done everything in their power to get that candidate to back off the stage graciously. But we've seen that Newt isn't going to go quietly into that good night of political oblivion.

Oh, yes, Madame L admits that she may have been wrong in her sarcastic comments about Newt running just for the future speaking engagements and book deals, because Newt seems to be serious now. At least he seems to have his back up, as it seems to be part of his character to just want something because someone else told him he can't have it, or because (remember this?) someone didn't give him a nice enough seat on a certain airplane.

But even the staunchest Republicans may get sick of Newt's blatant use of the "Poor Little Old Newt" ploy (PLON Ploy), even though it's been a mainstay of conservatives for a few years now. (See "The Power of Conservative Victimhood.")

One clever commentator notes that while Newt wishes everyone thinks he's a second Reagan, he's really acting like a second Nixon with all the rabble-rousing paranoia.

Newt certainly showed he has the power to make an audience to actually believe that the "liberal media" are out to get him, simply because of his mainstream American values, which audience members think they share with him: both the values and the victimhood. 

But do most conservative Republicans really want to have a racist, cheating, lying, law-breaking, hypocritical Washington insider represent them? Do they really think he would make a good president? Madame L thinks not. But she's been surprised before, and undoubtedly will be surprised many more times in her life.

Many members of the liberal press think the Republican Party is "flirting with suicide" if they give Newt the nomination---but that's only because of past experience, and they've been wrong before.

Madame L may recuse herself from future comments on Gingrich, but only because she can't stand to look at his smug, pudgy little face on the news all the time.

So, th-th-th-that's all for now, folks,

Madame L