Newt Brings Gaelic Fury To The GOP Race
"Kit" Daugherty's fine broth of a boy just upended Republican politics.
Newt Gingrich's winning streak may not last. But, until then, American voters have front row seats to enjoy something very old. Julius Caesar's troops experienced it when they landed in Britannia in 55 B.C. CNN's John King just experienced it too. And he's still walking funny - which is a lucky break for him.
After South Carolina's GOP primary, Mitt Romney's missing a few teeth.
How did this happen? Well, Governor Romney, shake hands with Gaelic fury.
The Gaelic Fury is Newt Gingrich, son of Kathleen Daugherty and one Newton Leroy McPherson. Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Newt was raised by his Mom and stepdad after his parents divorced. Most honorably, Gingrich's step-father adopted Newt and gave him his name.
Newt proudly calls the late Robert Gingrich (a career Army officer) his father. And, just as, until recently, only the Italians knew Rick Santorum was Italian, most people don't know that Newt Gingrich is a son of the Emerald Isle. Besides being a politician, Gingrich is a former college professor and a very learned man - an Emory graduate, with a Masters and a Ph.D from Tulane. That, too, is only fitting for a man whose birth parents' ancestors came from the Land of Saints and Scholars.
So much for the formalities. You thought Gingrich was a Southerner. Didn't he used to represent a Georgia Congressional district in Congress? Yes -- and that only reinforces my point.
Southerners love a fight -- and a fighter. Here in South Carolina, out in the woods, there's illegal dog-fighting and cock-fighting. People check out the Walmart parking lot on Saturday night to watch the fights. Men, in this license-to-carry state, routinely go armed.
"Don't make me go all redneck on you" is a standard rejoinder. There's no Texas swagger here ("walking," President George W. Bush called it); but there's a certain bounce in the step of the Palmetto State too.
Yesterday's whining New York Times editorial missed the whole point of the result in the South Carolina GOP primary. Or maybe, sub silentio, they got it.
Underneath the faux Confederate bluster is something very real: the Scots-Irish identity of so many Carolinians celebrated in Virginia Senator Jim Webb's Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. That is to say, Gaelic fury. It's catching.
The Rebel Yell, which you can listen to, was nothing but the old Celtic war cry. British troops heard it in the Carolina back-country in the Revolutionary War. Yankees faced what they called "that terrible scream" throughout the Civil War.
So, with St. Patrick's Day soon upon us, watch tonight's Republican debate on NBC at 9 P.M. and tell me if you see a shadow of something oddly familiar.
An unwritten subtext of the Republican presidential race is that it's an ethnic street fight. A Mormon who can pass for a WASP is in a three-way brawl with an Italian miner's grandson and a secret Irishman. Guess who's losing.
A typical Republican debate face-off features the political equivalent of a WWF event. Mitt Romney keeps getting body-slammed. First, Rick Santorum -- who used to represent the WWF in Pittsburgh, where they know something about street fights -- corners the hapless Romney.
It is a fact that Newt Gingrich loves a brawl -- or starts one. That was his career, coming up in the U.S. House of Representatives. And that's what he's been doing in these GOP debates too -- always with the MSM and, whenever possible, with Mitt Romney.
Newt says Mitt started it in Iowa. But I think it started in the womb of Kathleen Daugherty.
Of course, my blarney aside, it's not all ethnicity. That fine son of New England, President John Quincy Adams (son of John and Abigail) was a noted brawler too. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson of our sixth president: "He is an old roué, who cannot live on slops, but must have sulphuric acid in his tea."
Sounds just like Newt, doesn't it?
In these GOP debates, Kit's boy has truly come home. In 2009, Newt even became a Cath'lic.
Hit 'im again!