Conservatives may denounce class warfare, yet by shrewdly combining the politics of class with the politics of culture, Newt Gingrich won his first election in 14 years, humbled Mitt Romney and upended the Republican Party.
He also exposed profound frailties in Romney as a candidate, throwing him badly off-balance on questions related to his personal wealth, business career and income taxes. Unless Romney finds a comfortable and genuine way of talking about his money, he will present President Obama’s team a weakness that they’ll exploit mercilessly. The country is thinking more skeptically about wealth and privilege in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Romney has not adjusted.
Gingrich skillfully set up his opponent to step on the landmine of class by transforming Romney from his self-cast role as a successful businessman into a heartless financier more interested in profits than in job creation.
The conventional view is that Gingrich’s critique of Bain Capital, Romney’s old company, didn’t work because Republicans dislike assaults on “free enterprise,” a phrase Romney ...