Wow.  The center-right media environment has turned toxic for Gingrich really quick.  Rush Limbaugh and National Review hit him hard on the same say.  I saw some of the 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM FOX News shows and both contained unfavorable references to Gingrich’s Bain Capital attacks on Romney. Still, conservatives would be wise to think about what Jonathan Last and William Kristol have to say about Romney and Bain Capital.  These questions will keep coming and Romney needs crisp, persuasive answers for people who haven’t bought into his narrative.

Ross Douthat is also right that the Gingrich/Perry turn to anti-business left populism is an indictment on Republican messaging (and policy) this cycle.  The dominant (though not Rick Santorum) Republican economic message for those around the median of the income distribution has been either:

a) I’m a businessman technocrat and I’ll solve this economy thing.

b) Tax cuts for someone else (eliminate capital gains, optional flat tax for high earners, 9-9-9), but you’ll do okay too eventually.

c) Both a and b (from Herman Cain.)

So where did that leave us.  Take it away Mr. Douthat:

“In the absence of a policy agenda that speaks to the interests of the beleaguered middle class and the insecurities of blue-collar America, they have fallen back on the rhetoric of, yes, class warfare, pillorying Romney as a wicked capitalist greedhead who enriched himself at the expense of the people Bain laid off. For men seeking the nominee of a party that champions free market capitalism, it’s an extraordinarily cynical gambit. But it’s also a deeply telling one: It suggests that the events of the past decade inevitably exert a profound pull even on politicians whose official platforms downplay their significance, and that conservatives who fail to respond intelligently to what should be a populist moment will inevitably end up responding mindlessly instead.”

So who benefits? I guess Rick Santorum since no one is actually talking much about him. I sure hope Santorum finishes ahead of Gingrich tonight.

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