The Republican re-embrace of former Speaker Newt Gingrich says a lot about whom he sees as his opponent — and it isn't just President Barack Obama. It's the media.
If not for major media's embrace, Obama would still be sitting in the Senate, perhaps mulling another run for the presidency. A UCLA economist-political scientist recently tried to measure how the liberal media bias influences the way people vote. He concluded that this bias gives the Democrat candidate 8 to 10 percentage points.
Republicans understand this. So does Gingrich — on a very deep level. He knows the media dislike him above and beyond their anti-conservative Republican disdain. That he is testy, no-nonsense, whip smart and knowledgeable makes him formidable. That he engineered the 1994 GOP takeover of the House and pushed former President Bill Clinton into governing in the center makes him effective.
The good news for the media is that Gingrich is a Southern white male Christian Republican. He belongs to a group for which no advocacy organization exists to play the race/sex/religion card when Gingrich gets called — on-air by cable hosts and pundits — "racist," "disgusting" and a "pig."
Gingrich bites back. Hard. Thus, he addresses the question of his messy personal life while hitting the CNN moderator for bringing this up as the first question. Gingrich knows he lacks the Reaganesque "aw, shucks" persona. Reagan used his sunny disposition to counter the media's attempt to portray him as a dangerous nutcase whose finger should never go near the nuclear button — not unlike how many try to portray Gingrich.
Gingrich will call out the media for ignoring the bombshell that Obama's mother did not fight with her insurer over her medical bills, as Obama movingly and repeatedly told Americans in making his case for ObamaCare.
Gingrich will question why the major media behaved so indifferently for so long about matters like Obama's 20-year association with a racist, anti-Semitic pastor.
Gingrich will ask why the press yawns when the Obama administration stops using expressions like "shovel ready," "save or create" millions of jobs and "stimulus."
Gingrich will remind Americans about Obama's promise to end the influence of "lobbyists." By any normal understanding of the term, the White House remains a lobby-rich environment where Obama officials insist on lobbyist meetings off-premises. This means there is no White House log, allowing the administration to brag about an alleged decrease in lobbying.
Gingrich will point out the hypocrisy of being called a "lobbyist" though he never registered as one. Yet the media fail to apply this flexible definition of "lobbyist" when it comes to the Obama administration.
Gingrich will ask why the media remain so incurious about Obama's grades at prep school, Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law — even as Obama admitted, in his first book, that he wasn't much of a student.
Gingrich will point out the lack of left-wing outrage over our involvement in Libya. As a senator, Obama insisted that the President needed congressional approval to send troops into harm's way — unless the country was under imminent threat. Yet for the joint bombing of Libya, a mission the Obama administration called "humanitarian," Obama sought no congressional approval.
Gingrich will stand up against explicit or implied charges of racism. He scored by not backing down from Fox's Juan Williams, who accused him of racial callousness for saying poor urban children lack working role models, and for calling Obama a "food stamp president." Gingrich stood his ground and engaged in a needed, if uncomfortable, national discussion about the damage done to the family by the welfare state. This resonates with voters who are tired of being accused of racism for questioning whether the welfare state now hurts the very people it purports to help.
The White House narrative of why Obama should be re-elected is this: Obama rescued the country from destruction — and Republicans stand in his way from doing even bigger and better things for the country. Obama insists that "every economist" agrees that TARP, the bailouts and stimulus rescued an economy headed for Armageddon.
Gingrich will forcefully argue that in the early '80s, Reagan saw higher unemployment, inflation and interest rates. But no one calls that period The Great Recession. Unlike Obama, Reagan cut taxes, slowed down the rate of domestic spending and continued deregulation. And the economy took off, averaging — by this stage in the Reagan recovery — between 6.5 and 7 percent quarterly growth vs. the current anemic 2 percent.
The media will not properly scrutinize Obama's narrative. Count on them, however, to examine and reject Gingrich's narrative that Obama's policies place a dangerous and hard drag on the economy.
Gingrich has declared war on the anti-Republican media pro-liberal bias and double standard that give Democrat candidates a built in 8- to 10-point advantage. It's about time. We've got a country to save.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.