I asked readers if Newt Gingrich in the last debate had treated Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in a sexist manner. Opinion was divided, but almost entirely unfavorable toward the former speaker.
Bachmann most definitely has a point. Look at Newt’s post-debate interview with Sean Hannity where he describes with obvious “warmth” the camaraderie of the male candidates while he explicitly refuses to even say her name. I would also direct you to the expression on Newt’s face as Megan Kelly raises the judiciary issue. He can barely contain his contempt. Newt is a bully. Bullies go after targets they presume to be weak. It was his mistake to assume this about Bachmann.
I don’t think Newt has used quite that tone and “third person who I am pretending isn’t standing a few feet away from me” articulation with the guys. It’s one thing to say that Ms. Bachmann once supported “x” instead of “you” once supported “x.” You can do that in polite society when referring to someone else’s argument even if they are in the conversation. It’s quite another to use the third person when saying the equivalent of “she” needs to check her facts, as if she weren’t there. That demands “you” in polite society.
But others feel he simply treats everyone with contempt. DavidHolmes1 argues: “The Newt is fully capable of being condescending to anyone he considers his intellectual inferior, which is probably everyone south of Yale and East of Stanford. Michelle was right to bite back, but I don’t think she was targeted based on gender, lower poll numbers or otherwise.” Truthwillout writes: “Gingrich pretty much treats everyone that way, plus what he would call a ‘fact’ would better be described as ‘something I said was so.’”
Whichever way you come out on this (I tend to think the manner in which he addressed Bachmann had a sexist edge to it), it’s becoming clear that Gingrich doesn’t wear well over time. His lack of respect for the press delighted the conservative base, but his lack of respect for everyone else is off-putting. It may not be his biggest problem, but Gingrich is and will be hampered by his lack of likability. Indeed, he has managed to make his opponents look far more sympathetic in comparison.