Saturday, July 30, 2011

Newt's figment IV: Not made in America


You’d say the media was piling on to keep going after the feckless presidential campaign of Newton Leroy Gingrich, if only he didn’t make it all too easy to observe a campaign that never got out of first gear in the first place, self-victimized by another sad gaffe on Wednesday. That’s when, in a photo op gone sideways in about 30 seconds, King Newt was hoist on the petard of the fierce economic nationalism that animates his identity and his campaign.

At a news conference at Gingrich campaign headquarters in Atlanta, Newt stopped to pose holding up one of his NEWT 2012 campaign T-shirts, brandishing it in the usual goofy style of all candidates at one point or another. Gingrich held it up to his chest, obliging a request by an ABC News producer.

"A lot of what you’re talking about is taking America back to America,” the producer said. “We asked for t-shirts to be sent to us and they were made in America," an ABC producer said. "I just picked up that one and it's made in El Salvador."

Newt: “Uh-huh.”

Campaign spokesperson Michelle Selesky: “It was printed here in Atlanta.”



"It was a big thing when we talked to your campaign people about how you wanted things to be made in America, do you have plans to change things?" the producer asked.

"I'll have to ask the folks who ordered this," Gingrich said. "I don't order it and I don't do it."

"That was a rush order made by some of the volunteers," Selesky said.

"One of the challenges with a volunteer campaign is lots of volunteers do lots of different things," Gingrich said.

Newt’s volunteer army, of course, was made necessary by a number of financial issues that have plagued the campaign (said to be $1 million in debt), and personal missteps that called into question both his operational acumen and his timing.

The problems — the walkback of a denunciation of the Paul Ryan budget plan; the absence of Gingrich while he cruised the Mediterranean with his wife weeks after launching his campaign; the Tiffany credit-line debacle; the residual PR fallout of one affair and three marriages —resulted in the exit of several of his top strategists and advisers, some of whom reportedly weren’t paid beforehand.

◊ ◊ ◊

Later that day, CNN reported, Gingrich went back to his campaign HQ, the candidate (on firmer footing this time out) repeating his investment in the power of a volunteer campaign.

“I believe in a positive, solutions-oriented campaign of substance and I think as we now move away from the consultants and back to that model, we're getting more and more coverage and having more and more impact and volunteers are a key part of that," he said.

But however resolute he is about this latest pivot by his campaign, it runs the risk of more such gaffes and errors. As his campaign apparently moves away from the paid strategists who know the terrain, Gingrich, a man of no small ego, moves toward what could the most problematic, least productive possibility: a campaign of a presidential candidate predisposed to take no one’s advice but his own.

Like most humor, the T-shirt episode was funny with an edge of sadness. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have a twinge of pity for Gingrich, who is fast becoming the Willy Loman of American politics. Or its Elmer Fudd. Or like somebody described Thursday by Olbermann on Current TV: hapless, foundationally befuddled, “a man walking around his yard stepping on rake after rake after rake.”

Image credit: Gingrich: Via Current TV.

1 comment:

  1. He should have gone with American Apparel. One of their main tenants is that all of their products are Made in America as the company's name would suggest.

    ReplyDelete

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