“Trumpism,” according to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “is a bold and profoundly different way of thinking that needs codification and development through action.”
Gingrich made these remarks in an interview with McKay Coppins of The Atlantic, as he discussed his six-part lecture series and upcoming presidential biography focusing on the virtues of Trumpism. In reading the piece, one could be forgiven for thinking that Trumpism is actually a thing. By all appearances, adding an -ism suffix to President Trump’s ramshackle intellectual flotsam is an attempt to pass off a pig as a prom date. Trump says stuff, and then he says other stuff, and he doesn’t much care if the newer stuff bears no resemblance to the older stuff, or if any of the stuff has any basis in reality. Yet Gingrich insists we’re all missing the genius beneath the hot gas:
I think there’s a lot more substance there underneath the noise but it doesn’t get covered because this is a town that loves noise.
This is a brilliant dodge by the former speaker, as it somehow shifts the blame for Trump’s noise to the town that supposedly adores it. It ignores the fact that Trump is the noisiest president we’ve ever had, at least in the sense that the volume-to-substance ration is unusually skewed. Taking Gingrich’s premise to its logical conclusion, we would have to assume that Trumpism would be a coherent, substantive ideology if the Washington Post weren’t so enamored with the president’s covfefe.
The reality is that Trump is a man who seems uncomfortable if there isn’t sufficient noise to drown out his own thoughts, or, perhaps, to disguise the fact that there isn’t much thinking going on in the first place. If there is such a thing as Trumpism, it’s fairly obvious that Trump himself doesn’t know what it is.
Gingrich acknowledges that in a backhanded manner, suggesting that Trump is “too restless” and “not introspective.” He yearns for Trump to begin the process of educating the country the way Ronald Reagan did.
“Reagan understood that a major component of his job was being an educator and moving the country—but you don’t really get that out of Trump yet,” Gingrich said.
Note the optimistic adverb at the end of that statement. “Yet” implies that such education is forthcoming, and perhaps Gingrich’s sycophancy may yet coax it out of him. But one cannot teach that which they don’t know, and Trump is proud of the fact that he’s never read a book in his adult life. Indeed, it is highly doubtful that Trump will bother to read Gingrich’s biography when it comes out this fall.
Reagan, by comparison, had spent a great deal of time in the deliberate creation of Reaganism. Consider that in the four years between his primary loss in 1976 and his successful 1980 campaign, the future president broadcast a daily radio show which consisted of a two-minute essay that he had written himself. That’s an awful lot of material, and it requires a great deal of intellectual discipline to keep that kind of schedule. But by the time Reagan took office, he knew what Reaganism was, as he had done the intellectual heavy lifting himself.
Trump hasn’t made any similar effort to build Trumpism, and he hasn’t shown any inclination to try. He’ll just leave it to Newt Gingrich has to dress up the porcine prom date in the emperor’s new dress.