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Newt Gingrich And South Carolina Were Made For Each Other

Hot-headed South Carolina and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are made for each  other. The state first to secede from the Union about 150 years ago remains  defiant, mischievous, and unreconstructed. Not all states are created  equal.

South Carolina, shall we say, made its name early as the   troublemaker. To this day, it doesn’t like to fall in line and sends   elected representatives to Washington cut from that cloth. Down home in   Charleston, men especially still brag on the firing on Fort Sumter, the  shots and  blockade that started the Civil War. Very nice.

So natch Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Republican   presidential primary over the front-runner, former Gov. Mitt Romney. There was no  way  the most viciously verbose and confrontational politician in our  time was not going to win over the weekend. Just like the  confident, beautiful people of the  New England Patriots were going to  see their football team beat the sincere,  scrappy Baltimore Ravens, any  which way. Gingrich’s victory was destined  by the order of the  political court.

The  243,398 Republicans who voted for Gingrich in the Palmetto State  gave him the  first statewide win of his life. Remember, the former  speaker only ever  faced voters in a congressional district in Georgia.  He is not necessarily a  man of the people, no matter what the South  Carolina verdict. Not that I care,  but Romney does not need to fear the  writing on the wall yet.

Gingrich,  like his new best friend state, is an outsider of the  establishment. Gingrich,  like South Carolina, home to the the Citadel,  likes starting the political  equivalent of war, although he never did  military service. Gingrich, like South  Carolina, is steeped in history  which each are capable of entirely misreading  and handing down like  lore.

A  few facts on Gingrich’s own history. As House speaker, he was awed by  President  Clinton’s political prowess and brilliance, as Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss pointed out on Sunday’s Post  op-ed page. He  knew he had met more than his match. Later in Clinton’s  presidency, he  masterminded the House impeachment strategy, carried  out by then-Rep. Henry  Hyde, that nearly doomed Clinton’s fate. The  Monica Lewinsky affair was only a  vehicle. No moral umbrage was  involved, as we now know Gingrich was then having  an affair with an  aide on the Hill, now his third wife Callista Gingrich.

Vengeful  hypocrisy still cuts deep. If Gingrich had his way, Clinton would be as gone as  the good King Duncan in Macbeth.  Sen. Lindsay Graham, then a South  Carolina congressman, was one of  Hyde’s dozen helpers. This was only over a  dozen years ago, but it  seems like “history” we have forgotten.  That’s what Gingrich is  counting on when he talks about God’s forgiveness and  “despicable”  debate queries. That’s what columnists forget when  they write that  Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr was solely responsible for  the  whole tragic circus.

Some  more history on South Carolina. When the greats gathered in a  room to invent  the Republic and its rules, South Carolina’s men were  most adamant about  protecting slavery as an institution. That was  formative fruit on the tree  since. A  South Carolina  congressman caned a Massachusetts senator for his abolitionist  views on  the Senate floor before the Civil War broke out. As noted, they were first to fight  “the Yankees” and call  themselves another country. Over much of the 20th  century, the stubborn  Strom Thurmond of South Carolina made an  indelible mark as an  arch-segregationist, a senator, and a presidential candidate.  Former Sen.  Ernest Hollings, the bright and capable junior senator  with the low country in  his voice, was thankfully a reminder of the  good men and women from that state.

The  Confederate flag has flown over South Carolina for too long. Not  only up  in the air but in the hearts of men. Gingrich won in a state  that is, in  a sense, another country.


By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, January 23, 2012

January 24, 2012 - Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , ,

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