What brought the crowd to its feet in Charleston was the justifiable resentment that conservatives feel about liberal bias in the media. That resentment was strong enough to overcome any inclination that the crowd may have otherwise had to question what Gingrich was actually saying. But as real as liberal media bias is (liberals outnumber conservatives in journalism by about four to one, despite being outnumbered in the country as whole by about two to one), it will not be an issue in the general election. It will likely have an impact on the general election, but it will not be an issue that will determine how people vote — especially the all-important independent voters. Independent voters recognize the media’s liberal bias, but do not feel victimized by it in the way that we conservatives do; Gingrich’s emotional appeals to our sense of resentment will therefore leave independent voters unmoved. Indeed, Gingrich turns independent voters off: voters find anger very unappealing in a politician unless they share that anger, and Newt’s fury at the liberal media makes him come off as an unappetizing Unhappy Warrior in the eyes of independents.
Standing and clapping for one of Newt’s spectacular rants can indeed be a short-term thrill for conservatives — but it isn’t worth the long-term pain of a second Obama term.
David B. Cohen served in the administration of President George W. Bush as U.S. Representative to the Pacific Community, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Follow him on Twitter @DavidBCohen1.