November 15, 2011 Leave a comment
Somehow, with Cain fading, Perry an absolute disaster, and Romney still simply unacceptable to many GOP voters, this appears to be News Gingrich’s moment in the sun. Check out his rise in the latest polls. You’ve heard me say before that Gingrich isn’t even half as smart as he fools most people into believing (that’s his greatest talent). TNR’s Josh McWhorter has a nice piece looking at how Gingrich so ably uses the conventions of academic language into fooling people that he’s actually some crazed genius:
He has managed to leverage the televised debates to his benefit by acting like a professor before an unprepared lecture hall of students, condescending to the moderators by treating every question as a logic exercise. And so, however improbably, his Ph.D in history has earned the status of an important credential to the Republican Party.
But if Gingrich has amply proven his academic talents, he has also demonstrated their limitations. The Republican Party should not mistake his communication skills with evidence of real knowledge, or even of good reasoning. Gingrich may be a master of academic exercises—his ability to make bookish references and formulate long sentences demonstrate as much—but that does not mean he knows what he is talking about.
Gingrich’s patterns of speech are largely analytically acute, and sometimes aesthetically interesting, but substantively, they are very often lacking. Language is supposed to be a package that carries substance, but Gingrich is sometimes so pleased with his uninterrupted stream of words, that he mistakes it for an actual flow of ideas.
I think this is spot-on. From personal experience I can definitely say it’s amazing how much you can fool people by having a PhD and “talking like a professor.” Although, most of the time I’d like to think I actually know what I’m talking about. Anyway, Newt definitely has the appearance mastered though he’s most definitely not the policy genius many think him to be.