On Sunday’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN, New York Times columnist David Brooks had a new, and specific, definition of “Republican establishment” — “anybody who knows what Newt Gingrich is really like.”
“Well,” Brooks said, “my definition of the Republican elite is that anybody who knows what Newt Gingrich is really like. So the people who worked with him, those are the so-called Republican establishment, and they want anybody but him.”
The columnist also said he was skeptical of warnings that the length and bitter tone of the Republican primary could cause a party split that would make it difficult to defeat President Barack Obama in November, pointing to the 2008 Obama-Hillary Clinton race as evidence.
“When Obama ran against Clinton you could get polls saying 40 percent of Democrats wouldn’t support the other,” Brooks said. “That all vanishes. That’s always going to vanish.”
But as far as the tea party movement is concerned, Brooks commented that the primaries raise some questions about its power in Republican politics.
“I think what the tea party people should be asking ourselves [is] … ‘Listen, we have all this energy, all these ideas, we’ve mobilized so many people, and we produce Mitt Romney,’” he said. “Why couldn’t they produce a leader? Why couldn’t they really change the party? If Romney wins, the head of the Republican Party — the three most important people in Washington — will be Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Mitt Romney. That’s the Republican main street establishment. The tea party will have a pretty limited effect.”