An indignant edginess is about the only characteristic that unites participants in the Occupy movement. How many protestors routinely threaten to eat other people, namely productive, successful Americans? Lovely sentiment, isn’t it?
But since anger apparently is in vogue it would behoove Republicans, Conservatives, independents and recovering Obama backers to get with the times. This is what happened in South Carolina last weekend when folks held their noses and voted for Newt Gingrich in the GOP Presidential primary. They’re angry and Newt best embodied that animosity.
It does not qualify him to be elected President necessarily, but Newt is one angry guy. He’s mad as hell at the ads run against him in Iowa. He’s mad at inane media inquisitors; CNN’s John King being the most recent. He’s got to be absolutely boiling that his ex-wife waited until he surged in the polls to become bitter about their long ago divorce.
Mitt Romney has the capacity to tap into this anger and, if he does so in a hurry, could once again reclaim his status as a worthy frontrunner for the nomination. Romney needs to express indignant rejection, not merely aggravation, when an opponent (or 27-minute movie) criticizes the wealth he has amassed. He needs to blow his stack when someone suggests he picked at the bones of crippled businesses like a “vulture” when risking venture capital. He should furrow his brow and jut his chin, Clinton-style, when accused of paying too little in taxes and when demonized for leveraging legal offshore investment tools.
Why would Romney want to break out of his steady demeanor now? He needs to show an extremely fed up electorate that he has fire in his taut belly, not in a screaming Howard Dean way, or a brooding, vindictive Richard Nixon way, but in an impassioned, liberty-or-death way.
If Romney can show voters that he’s not some empty, detached rich guy but, to the contrary, someone willing to fight and lead he can win over some of the fence-sitters or Newt leaners.
He once told a crowd that when a Romney drowns, you first look upstream, speaking to the family’s tenacity. Romney needs to dust off that line and put it back to work in 2012.
Failure to persuade the public that he’s got some emotional embers burning inside him will handcuff Romney when he pledges to take on President Obama (and most of the mainstream media) on a whole range of issues. He can’t be believed until he takes the gloves off in the GOP nomination race.
Voters are looking for a candidate who can channel their gathering rage, who will not only defeat Obama in November but will utterly repudiate the reckless direction in which he gradually has moved the country. They do not want empty slogans, otherwise they could go join the Occupiers. Americans who are feeling the country slipping away, some for the first time in their lives, want a President who is a stable grown-up, who can lead a fight to restore our values, repair our economy and return Constitutional sanctity to the corridors of power in Washington.
South Carolina primary voters took a flier on Gingrich in the aftermath of some powerful expressions of conviction during the debates preceding primary day. But if Mitt has a history of making money and “evolving” on issues, Newt most certainly has a history, too. The Hill captures it today in an interview with a Claremont McKenna College professor named Jack Pitney.
“Gingrich does well when he puts on a show of aggressiveness. He does not do well when he is genuinely angry,” said Pitney, who worked for Gingrich in the House in the 1980s. “Romney wants to play with Newt’s head and make it explode.”
It will be good practice for Romney as he prepares to face the angry Occupier of the Oval Office.