All that is about to change. The Gingrich Proposition carries tremendous totemic potential among anti-establishment conservatives who are so frustrated with the technocratic wing of the GOP precisely because they’re convinced that their own elites are permitting Western civilization to disestablish itself.
Nancy Pelosi’s hometown newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, described back in 1997 how the congresswoman’s discovery of The Gingrich Proposition was “what really turned [her] stomach” about Newt. How’s that for a rejoinder to the now-infamous “couch cuddle” between the two?
As Rich Lowry has observed, Newt Gingrich is the only anti-Romney in the field who can go toe to toe with Mitt on the spontaneous public display of wonkitude. But when faced with Newt’s Zarathustran articulation of The Gingrich Proposition, Romney can only recoil into the 2-D platitudes about three-legged stools of American greatness that followed him to primary defeat in 2008.
Still, neither candidate is going to win a lifetime conservative beauty contest. But in a face-off between the two, Republican primary voters may well be led to think more like Newt than like Mitt about what’s at stake in 2012. With pessimistic populism on the march, it’s likely that many of them already do.
James Poulos is the host of The Bottom Line and Reform School on PJTV. A doctoral candidate in Government at Georgetown University, he holds degrees from Duke and USC Law. His writing has appeared in The American Conservative, The Boston Globe, Cato Unbound, The National Interest, and The Weekly Standard, among others, and is featured in the collection Proud to Be Right, edited by Jonah Goldberg. He has been an editor at Ricochet.com and a fellow of the Claremont Institute. He lives in Los Angeles. His Twitter handle is @jamespoulos.