Newt’s not as smart as all that — say liberals

Since at least Reagan, the standard liberal trope is that Republicans, both voters and politicians, are stupid.  That trope has, of course, emerged again this year.  The joker in the deck is Newt Gingrich, a PhD and author who spokes with incredible fluency and has a masterful grasp of facts.

With Newt as the frontrunner, the Left is rallying with a line of attack I’ll call “Newt’s not as smart as all that.”  Exhibit One is a Frank Bruni NYT’s Op-Ed sarcastically entitled “Professor Gingrich.”  To set up his premise that Newt’s not as smart as all that, Bruni carefully insults the other Republican candidates:

The candidates who surged before him are to varying degrees yahoos. They proved it anew last week. Michele Bachmann [a successful lawyer] seemed to be under the impression that we had an embassy in Iran, and Rick Perry [Air Force pilot and successful long-time Texas politician] was definitely under the delusion that the voting age in this country is 21 instead of 18.

Herman Cain [multiple degrees, Navy background, hugely successful businessman), on his Web site, unveiled the foreign-policy analogue to his 9-9-9 tax jingle, a world map that merely labeled countries “ally,” “adversary” and the like. Had it instead presented little thumbs-up and thumbs-down symbols, along with palm trees for hot countries and snowflakes for cold ones, it wouldn’t have been any more simplistic.

Funnily enough, Bruni’s paragraph didn’t include a rant about a politician who’s spoken about America’s 57 states, appeared impressed with the Austrian language, bemoaned attacks on English embassies, applauded the military’s “corpsemen,” waffled on about mysterious “price versus earnings ratios,” held only one non-academic, non-political job (the Annenberg Foundation) that was a major disaster, and kept all of his grades carefully under wraps.  I guess Bruni just forgot about him.  But I digress…

Having established that Republicans are “yahoos,” Bruni goes in for the kill against the one Republican who doesn’t have “yahoo” written on his resume.  Newt’s problem isn’t that he’s smart, it’s that he’s proud of being smart, damn him!

But then there’s Gingrich, the former college professor, who regularly brandishes his Ph.D. in history from Tulane. He does it directly, as in a 1995 interview when he bragged, “I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.”

He does it obliquely, by constantly invoking centuries past. Ask him about the price of milk, and he’ll likely work in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

Couple that showy scholarship with his grandiose streak and you get pomposity on a scale that would make a French monarch blanch. Last week, in an electronic book published by Politico and Random House, it was revealed that he had compared the attempts to retool his initially beleaguered campaign with the founding of Wal-Mart by Sam Walton and of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc.

In a Fox News interview he one-upped any of Al Gore’s long-ago claims about “Love Story,” Love Canal or the invention of the Internet.

“I helped Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp develop supply-side economics,” he boasted.

“I helped lead the effort to defeat Communism in the Congress,” he added. Put aside the tortured locution — were there reds among the House’s Blue Dogs, along with Bolshevik backbenchers? — and you’re left with an audacious credit grab.

And in Bluffton, S.C., he told voters that he didn’t need to lobby because after he left Congress, “I was charging $60,000 a speech, and the number of speeches was going up, not down. Normally, celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.”

Faced with the reality of Newt’s intellectual and knowledge, Bruni reluctantly concludes that the Republicans feel that they need someone who can speak at Obama’s rarefied level:

If you consider how ardently Republicans courted Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, you’re forced to conclude that they do value, and crave, an intellectually muscular candidate who can square off against President Obama. The 2012 election has a fundamentally different temperature from the 2010 one. There’s arguably worse economic uncertainty this time around, greater stakes and a seemingly waning thirst for Tea.

And Republicans appreciate that a presidential race, and the presidency itself, have a higher altitude than a Congressional showdown. Some palpable gray matter really does come in handy.

Isn’t that a nice phrase?  “Palpable grey matter.”

Yes, it is true that Republicans have normally favored do-ers over talkers.  This year, they recognize, though, that Obama has so decimated the country’s psyche that they need someone who can talk us out of the hole Obama dug (or do I mean off the ledge Obama has yakked us onto).  And Republicans, being smart, are looking carefully at the one candidate who can blow to Hell and back any pretense that Obama is as smart as he thinks he is.

After all, as Bruni’s column perfectly shows, liberals tend to reduce “intellectualism” to who’s faster with the personal attack.  (Think “palpable grey matter.” )  During an argument with a liberal yesterday, an argument that wasn’t originally focused just on me, my opposing party managed to reduce the argument down to three statements:  “You’re an idiot.  You’re an effing moron.  You’re a jackass.”  I was not impressed either by the liberal’s grasp of facts or advocacy tactics.  What really depressed me, though, wasn’t the string of meaningless insults.  It was that this is what passes for reasoned debate on the liberal side of the political spectrum.

On the subject of insults I’ll say one more thing:  given the virulence with which the MSM attacks conservatives — not their ideas, but their person — perhaps it’s not surprising that so few are willing to stand up to be beaten down.

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  • Michael Adams

    The thing that puzzles me is that Republicans, so dumb, are also so rich. They’ve turned “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” on its head. But of course, I am so dumb that I could not even keep up the Demo-thing, and finally, as I lapsed into stupidity, turned into a Republican.

  • JKB

    Yeah, Steven Taylor over at OTB has a long write up about how Newt isn’t one “them”.  Them being academics.  It is interesting how academia wholly accepted Obama as one of them but are trying as hard as possible to disavow Newt.  Seems his writing is not academic enough.  Oh, and many of his books were cowrote.  Not like Obama’s academic writings or his books.

    Book, if you really want to irritate the odd liberal, let them know about this show
    Rocket City Rednecks – National Geographic Channel

    Sure, the Ph.Ds aren’t in “academic” subjects (Three Cheers for Useless Education), being in Physics, Optical engineering and Aeronautical engineering but they do have the ability to shape the world around them.

    But for the Progressive, they have all the wrong things, scientific PhDs, a pride in being country, work for the Defense Department, large pick up trucks and an appreciation of firearms. 

  • Danny Lemieux

    “You’re an idiot.  You’re an effing moran.  You’re a jackass.”

    A typical Liberal response.

    My standard retort to this kind of Liberal yawp is along the lines of, “when you use language like that, I know you have lost the argument in your own mind. You are a poster child for why ignorance combined with arrogance is a very dangerous and destructive combination”. 
    Then their heads explode. 


    “You’re an idiot.  You’re an effing moran.  You’re a jackass.”
    A graduate of the Alec Baldwin School of how to interact with your daughter?

  • Indigo Red

    I’m sorry, but it really frosts my cake when Obama’s work history is belittled. His first non-political, non-academic job was at Baskin-Robbins where he not only scooped ice cream but touted the company’s 57 flavors. 

  • DL Sly

    Red, not fair!!  Diet Pepsi really burns when it comes out the nose that quickly, yanno.

  • Oldflyer

    Why bother reading those people?
    But just for the record:
    Herman Cain, BS Mathematics/MS Computer Science Purdue
    Newt, PHD
    Romney,  JD Harvard
    Michelle Bachmann , LLM William & Mary/JD Oral Roberts U.
    Ron Paul,  MD  Duke University
    John Hunstman,  U. of Pennsylvania/ BA
    Rick Santorum,  Dickinson School of Law
    Bruni is not a slouch, BA University of North Carolina and Masters from the Columbia U School of Propaganda.  But, he has no standing to look down his nose at  those folks. 

  • Charles Martel

    I’ve sent in an FOIA request for Obama’s college transcripts. As you know, he was a brilliant scholar and is arguably the smartest man ever to occupy the presidency. Obviously there’s a huge paper trail that will confirm this, which is why I just know that this time the feds will honor my request. (For some reason they ignored my 36 prior requests. But with the faker Gingrich gunning for the Bringer of Light, it’s time to publish Obama’s formidable bona fides!)

  • Libby

    Ugh, this is so tiresome. How many variations of “Republican’s are stupid!” can they come up with? They’ve invested so much in believing themselves intellectually superior that it is inconceivable that people such as Bush, Palin, Bachmann, or Gingrich could be intelligent. Does. Not. Compute!
    Their message really falls apart when they identify the Democrats they think are smart – like John Kerry and Obama.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Uh, let’s not forget John Edwards, Algore…

  • Ymarsakar

    It’s a false premise. The idea the Left is selling is that those born to rule are smart, thus if you aren’t deemed smart by the right authorities, you weren’t born to rule. Thus you are unfit to be a leader in the US politically.

    You can argue about whether they are or are not smart, but that still buys into the idea that only the smart are authorized to command obedience from the American peons.