is that the Dems still don't understand Newt's crystal-clear, in-your-face tutorial about the raw force of audacity.
Gingrich is surely doing his best to teach them. What better lesson could there be than the example of a hamster-faced, philandering, hypocritical ingrate soaring to top-level contention on the mere strength of defiant, eloquent passion?
As I've said before, a core truth of populist electoral power is that voters like a candidate who is unafraid to lose.
A savvy and principled rival candidate's takeaway from The Newt Tutorial would be: "Wow. If a repulsive liar blowing smoke for the most unpopular schemes of the rich can make that ruse work via pure rhetorical fury, imagine what a fearlessly passionate advocate for truly popular causes like expanding health care and reining in corporations could do."
But the Dems, terrified of the class consequences of true populism and schooled in the Democratic Leadership Conference legacy of business-driven lip-synch messaging, are not teachable on the subject of real mass appeal. And so President Irrelevant continues to go robotic on the campaign trail, mouthing tepid generalities and sleepy slogans such as "change will come." And his party remains allergic to the kinds of messages that could electrify voters.
All of this is for a very logical reason: Dems in the service of Wall Street do not want to electrify voters with compelling arguments that undercut the fiscal sponsors of the Dems' political campaigns. Democrats are betting, instead, that they can win in 2012 with lukewarm ad-slogan versions of voter grievances that, like most successful advertising campaigns, imply just enough to make the sale while delivering nothing.
Still, it's an interesting irony: The corporate candidate whose positions are furthest from the public interest makes the most of populist emotion. And the corporate candidate who could come closer to voters' actual passion makes the least of it.