On CNN New Day, Dr. Jason Johnson discusses Donald Trump’s campaign at the Iowa State Fair, and his stated pledge to spend up to $1 billion on his presidential campaign.
Hollywood movies have taught us that you never want to make an old guy angry. Yes, we all know that Jason Statham will come into your home and beat you down with a pair of tap-shoes and a coat hanger, or that Wesley Snipes will karate chop you and cut you in half with a sword without losing his glasses. But, there is nothing more relentless, more dangerous than the old guy out for revenge with nothing left to lose. Denzel, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson – you see, the old guys don’t care anymore about being polite, following rules or even themselves. All they’ve got left is their pride, and if you wound it or embarrass them they’re coming for you, and it doesn’t matter how many strip malls have to get blown up, or international laws need to be broken they’ll get their revenge on whoever wronged them.
In late November, Newt Gingrich was the frontrunner in Iowa, but fell from 1st to 4th after millions of dollars in attack ads from Mitt Romney and his secret group of Super PAC ninja assassins. Now they’ve blown up Newt’s house, kidnapped his family, and trashed his car. Gingrich is now crawling out of the smoldering ruins of a 4th place finish in a state he owned just a few weeks ago, and he’s on a mission: Get Romney.
On Tuesday night Gingrich made it a point to congratulate Rick Santorum and Ron Paul on their caucus success, but not Romney. The next day he directly called Romney a liar. This is not political gamesmanship. It is the rage of an old man who feels betrayed by Mitt Romney and some of the Republican Party establishment. Newt Gingrich is Denzel in Man on Fire angry, Mel Gibson in Ransom angry – he’s straight up Liam Neeson in TAKEN angry. And despite the former Speaker’s reputation for pettiness this is one instance where he has every right to be out for payback.
If you look back through this campaign year, Newt Gingrich had stood out as the Big Brother for all of the candidates, especially during the endless debates. Even though he was only averaging 3 to 5% in the polls Gingrich always performed well in the debates and took on the press repeatedly for trying to get the GOP candidates into a circular firing squad. He refused to answer questions that were aimed at criticizing his fellow candidates, he attacked moderators for trying to create petty rifts in the field and he kept going back to the same theme that President Obama was the real problem, not anyone on the stage. Eventually when Perry and Cain surged, Gingrich stepped into the light as the frontrunner in the GOP nomination race, pulling in larger leads in polls for much longer than anyone else in the race.
At that point, he still didn’t go on the attack because Gingrich had actually become frontrunner the old fashioned way; by sticking to his strengths (debating and big ideas) and staying on message (Obama is the problem, not the GOP). And how was he re-paid for his noble campaign style? With millions of dollars in attack ads all across Iowa from Mitt Romney and his henchman, all the while the former Massachusetts governor barely set foot in the state.
Essentially the Iowa Caucuses were the part in the movie where Newt / Liam is set on fire, stabbed in the back by his long term business partner, and thrown off a yacht in the middle of the ocean. But Romney forgot about Newt Neeson’s years as a political Green Beret / Ninja / Speaker of the House who went head-to-head with Bill Clinton. He’s pulled himself out of the water with a respectable 4th place finish. Newt knows he probably can’t win the nomination, but he doesn’t care. His pride has been wounded, and while he wouldn’t mind losing to Paul or Santorum, he’ll be damned if he loses to that slick haired big money establishment machine known as Mitt Romney. With a couple of debates to go before South Carolina Newt Neeson has just placed a very serious phone-call to the Romney campaign (46 second mark until the end).
Newt: I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you my campaign doesn’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you stop your attacks now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
In a late night filled with surprises, Dr. Jason Johnson spoke with the Katty Kay, Washington Correspondent for BBC World News America, about who the real winners and losers were from the Iowa Caucuses. Mixing in pop culture and political science strategy Dr. Johnson breaks down the race in a way that brings politics to the expert and the layman.
DES MOINES, IA – Election morning in Iowa I had the chance to sit down and chat with two prominent members of the Tea Party in Des Moines Iowa about the campaign. The conversation quickly moved from the candidates themselves (Romney, what else can you say about that guy?) to the candidate’s wives and the roles they play in the campaign. We pointed out that Ron Paul’s wife is almost non-existent on the campaign trail, yet he’s surging, but at the same time Mitt Romney’s wife is considered his ‘secret weapon’ to humanize him in the eyes of regular voters.
Predictably, the conversation soon turned to Barack Obama and how Michelle might fare in the eyes of voters. I had the following exchange with one of the Tea Party reps, a White female lawyer in her mid 30’s.
“Michelle Obama, I just find her…just awful. She’s awful. She really needs to dress better.”
“What do you mean, I mean, she dresses just like everyone else. Her clothes look like anything you’d find at Nordstrom’s.”
“She’s always showing off so much skin. I mean … all the sleeveless outfits and shirts. She needs to put some clothes on. It’s really inappropriate for a first lady.”
I’ll be honest with you, Michelle has her fair share of haters, but I never expected a 30 something year old woman to be on the morality tip when it came to the first lady. In general, Michelle Obama is pretty popular, beating her husband’s approval rating on a regular basis. Michelle ended 2011 with an average approval rating in the mid 60’s while Obama’s approval through the year hovered in the low 40’s. In addition, I always felt like Michelle Obama’s “realness” was an antidote to those that were skeptical of Barack Obama’s rosy outlook on life in the 2008 campaign. I considered her “Aunt Viv” act to be the perfect complement to his “Uncle Phil” act. Now I realize that these were the words of a Tea Party activist, but the conversation in general still got me thinking: What will Michelle really be able to contribute to Obama’s re-election efforts in 2012?
We’ve already seen the president stumble to galvanize Black voters and his base for the election. Will the words of a world-weary travelling Michelle Obama, who isn’t known to be the warmest of campaigners, do him good … or ill?
No presidential election has ever hung on the performance of a first spouse, positively or negatively, so to a certain extent these are academic questions. However, the president will need all of the support he can muster in order to get women, Blacks and young people back into the fold and back into the voting booth. While I’m sure that most independent voters let alone most sane Republicans aren’t fretting about the type of clothes Michelle wears it’s still important to consider. This woman may be the key to Obama’s election chances in some key areas and any criticism of her, any way in which she can be seen as anything other than an asset to his success, is something worth pondering come the heavy campaign season of 2012.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
Dr. Jason Johnson spoke with Al Jazeera English at 1:00 a.m. on the night of the Republican Iowa Caucus in order to discuss the final election results and how they might propel different candidates forward.