Saturday, February 4, 2012

Newt Gingrich hates on mass transit

I knew Gingrich being pro-science wouldn't last. Ben Adler of The Nation has the story.

Newt Gingrich’s New Enemies: Subway Riders
Newt Gingrich has taken phony cultural populism to its logical extreme. Gingrich abandons his supposed free market and small government principles when it comes to federally subsidizing over-consumption of housing. That’s both a biographical fact, in light of his work for Freddie Mac, and a policy position.

To make the point that anyone who disagrees with him on housing policy is just an elite liberal snob, instead of engaging them on substantive economic policy grounds, Gingrich has taken to mocking people who don’t own a detached single-family home in the suburbs and drive everywhere.

At the National Association of Home Builders, “Rally for Homeownership” in South Carolina, Gingrich said, “Those who, you know, live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the metro, who don’t understand that for most Americans the ability to buy a home, to have their own property, to have a sense of belonging is one of the greatest achievements of their life, and it makes them feel like they are good solid citizens.” As Matthew Yglesias wrote in Slate, “it’s telling how swiftly any kind of commitment to free market economics melts away in the face of the identity politics concerns of prosperous older white suburbanites.”
Adler goes on to call Gingrich stupid and ignorant. I don't think that's a fair characterization. Gingrich probably knows the environmental benefits of mass transit and urban living, but he also knows the GOP primary electorate and values what they think more. After all, there is a reason why Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman call him "a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like." This is exactly why I think Yglesias has Gingrich exactly right. Newt and the rest of the GOP represent core interest groups instead of having core ideologies and thus have no respect for their own ideas except as vehicles for promoting the interests of themselves and their supporters.

Gingrich then doubled down on his position.
On Friday he reiterated his hatred of people who live a more environmentally efficient lifestyle. Speaking in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada caucus, a contest he is sure to lose, Gingrich attacked “elites” in Manhattan who live in high rises and “ride the subway.”
This attracted the attention of Dan Amira of New York Magazine, who posted this screen capture of a tweet repeating Gingrich's words.

Amira then mocked Gingrich in the most scathing terms.
If by "elites," Gingrich means people who can't afford to own cars or take taxis; who don't mind keeping an eye out for rats as they wait God knows how long for a standing-room-only train; who are willing to spend 40 minutes next to a lady with whooping cough while basking in the smell of the semi-conscious homeless man laying all the way at the other end of the car; who have no choice but to put up with panhandlers, gropers, proselytizers, straight-up insane people, crying babies, break-dancing teens, spaghetti fights, garbled announcements, unexplainable delays, unexpected route changes, and the occasional elbow to the kidney, then yes: "Elites" are the ones taking the subway in Manhattan.
Amira's take on Gingrich's hating on New York and subways has been drawing in more eyeballs than any other recent post on New York Magazine's Daily Intel blog. It's also the fifth most commented on article, with 67 responses and counting. Most consisted of simple derision, but a few cut to the heart of what Gingrich was trying to achieve. Boris4 managed to do both.
It doesn't have to make sense. Right wing populism is a fantasy anyway - and Gingrich is its Tolkien.
Mollysgaga translated the motivation.
"Elites" in new GOP-speak are the 20% who were educated at good colleges, and supposedly look down on the culturally inferior 80%. The trick is to create resentment against these amongst the 80% who didn't get much of an education. That way the rich can keep their tax cuts.
GraduatedAmbition was even more terse.B
By "elites", Gingrich means urban whites who aren't Real Americans. Fck him.
Boris4 induced me to respond.
He's also hating on mass transit. Newt has a real talent for hitting multiple targets in one sentence. The record so far was in his comment about poor kids in schools working as janitors. In one sentence, he hit poor people, poverty programs, minorities, unions, public education, and child labor laws. Top that for a cluster bomb of conservatism!
You're a mean one, Newt Gingrinch!


  1. Hahaha! funny post! especially love the ending "You're a mean one, Newt Gingrinch" - I really think that one can catch on!
    I'm from NYC too, lived on an apartment building and rode the subway my whole life...
    I love your writing style. Keep up the good work on NaBloPoMo :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by and wishing me well, Sara Allan! Glad to see you share my perspective on Newt's bombast. Looking forward to more posts from you this month!