. . . for Clown of the Year. The man has a quite a history of making absurd statements, a history that ended up reducing him from GOP frontrunner a few months ago to his current electoral oblivion. But I think he has now outdone himself in the self-beclowning department. Here’s what he said to some activists in Delaware on Wednesday: “I think Fox has been for Romney all the way through. In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than Fox this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of Fox, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of Fox. That’s just a fact. . . . I assume it’s because Murdoch at some point said, ‘I want Romney,’ and so ‘fair and balanced’ became ‘Romney.’ And there’s no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign because such a high percentage of our base watches Fox.”
I have no information about, or dare I say interest in, the question of whether Fox is in fact biased in favor of Romney. What I do want to consider, for a moment, is what this statement communicates to us about Gingrich’s opinion of conservative primary voters: My loss “had a lot to do” with the fact that GOP voters are mindless drones who unthinkingly obey the dictates of Fox News. They wanted to vote for me, sure, but they simply couldn’t bring themselves to do it, once Fox told them not to. Now, I live in Manhattan, and believe me, I encounter plenty of liberals who believe that conservatives are unthinking consumers of the Fox/talk-radio party line, and they will be absolutely delighted to hear that a prominent conservative — and recent GOP frontrunner (!) — shares their opinion of conservative voters. (To be, I hope redundantly, clear: I think Gingrich’s statement says a lot more about his character than it does about the conservatives whose votes he was recently pleading for.)
And that wasn’t even the dumbest thing Gingrich said that day. Making the defensible point that Republicans are too often “inarticulate,” he felt the need to add the following: “The Republican party is a managerial party that doesn’t like to fight, doesn’t like to read books.” Now, an impartial observer would see in today’s Republicans no lack of combativeness. (Congressman Allen West, to take the most conspicuous example of the day, can reasonably be accused of a number of things. An unwillingness to fight is not among them.) But what especially galls me, as books editor at a conservative magazine, is the notion that Republicans don’t like to read books. Why, then, are so many books by and for Republicans regularly at the top of the bestseller list? Our own Mark Steyn has observed that you can sell more books with an appearance on right-wing radio station KZZZ at 3 a.m. than you can on NPR.
Ann Coulter recently said that conservatives are more prone than liberals to fall for “con men and charlatans.” The fact that conservatives rejected Gingrich this year is a welcome indication that the problem may not be as bad as she thinks.