Wednesday, January 4, 2012 / 11:38 am

Why Newt Keeps Coming Back and People Love Him For It

Smiling their way through the negativity.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: Newt Gingrich | 2012 election

Newt yodels

Unlike a lot of my comrades, most of the Republican candidates strike me as gears in a much larger political machine programmed to corporatize the world while justifying the claim that the only answer for rampant capitalism is a healthy dose of more capitalism–instead of devil spawn sent from another dimension to lead us to the apocalypse, I mean. In particular, I don't think Cain, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, Paul, Huntsman or even Romney have sinister motives. I do think they've been brainwashed by advertisements for a past that never existed, but call that more of a hunch on my part.

Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, is a narcissistic weasel bent on inflating his ego though a potent mixture of saccarine self-promotion and doomsday rhetoric. His narcissism's even obvious in a field legendary for narcissists. And somehow people love him for it, especially media outlets who don't care to call him out on it. To be somewhat fair though, the media have an excuse: Newt brings in the ratings/money. As for his zombie hordes/followers, a Journal of Personality and Social Psychology's article last January titled “Why are narcissists so charming at first sight? Decoding the narcissism–popularity link at zero acquaintance” discovers the soap he uses for brainwashing:

[T]he authors showed that narcissists are popular at zero acquaintance […]. In Study 1, a group of psychology freshmen […] judged each other on the basis of brief self-introductions using a large round-robin design […]. First, narcissism leads to popularity at first sight. Second, the aspects of narcissism that are most maladaptive in the long run (exploitativeness/entitlement) proved to be most attractive at zero acquaintance.

In other words, all the asshole traits that usually turn us off about narcissists make us love them at first sight, which makes sense when you consider that Newt's been out of the political limelight for the last few years. But this is exactly why most elite Republicans hoped he'd lose once things got real (or more fantastical, like last night in Iowa): Newt's establishment pals have gone way past zero acquaintance. They know him well, too well maybe. And they have to know he's a narcissistic, exploitative, entitled shithead by now.

So of course he'd try to stay positive yesterday at the Iowa Caucus with statements like “I’m looking forward to tonight to see if we can literally smile our way through the negativity,” after appealing to new faces with his passionate idea man schtick. Or before that, with his Fox News Tea-Party schtick. Or before that with a pro-war hawk schtick. Or before that with an expert negotiator schtick. Or before that as an even-minded professor of something-or-other.

Granted, Newt's not a complete idiot… I'm sure he has some sense of what people think of him. But he definitely thinks more of himself than anyone else ever will, and probably figures that if he keeps looking like a brand-new man, new faces will come to love him as much as he loves himself.

But you can't be all things to all people all the time, and sooner or later he'll run out of new faces. Judging my last night's performance, seems like sooner.

Tony Chavira is the President of FourStory, a nonprofit organization that promotes fairness and social justice through strong writing and storytelling. He is also the Program Developer at RACAIA Architecture, writes and posts comics at Minefield Wonderland, and teaches Business Report Writing at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.


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