Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
Apparently, the cost of booking a Newt Gingrich speech has come way down. According to BuzzFeed, the speakers bureau that represents the former House speaker has cut the baseline rate for a gig to $25,000 – down from the $60,000 starting rate Gingrich was commanding before his presidential bid.
This doesn’t mean Gingrich is on his way to the poorhouse, but it is another example of the damaging effect his presidential bid had on his marketability. After Gingrich lashed out at Fox News’ coverage of him to a group of Delaware Tea Party activists in April, Roger Ailes said publicly that “he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox News,” a platform that was crucial to Gingrich’s return from political exile last decade. And throughout the final six weeks of his campaign, the attention Gingrich received mainly took the form of ridicule, with the press chuckling at the delusional has-been who seemed more interested in meeting zoo animals than actual voters.
What’s interesting about this is that there was a general assumption through most of 2011 that Gingrich’s presidential campaign wasn’t really a campaign at all, and instead was sneaky effort to gain prestige and visibility and to build his own personal brand.
There was plenty of reason to believe this, particularly in the summer and early fall of last years, after Gingrich’s entire campaign staff quit on him and the candidate took off for a Mediterranean vacation. He seemed uninterested in raising money, building a real organization, or working early primary states at the grass-roots level. What he did seem interested in was having a place on the stage at nationally televised debates, making cable news guest appearances, and using campaign events to sell books and other Gingrich-themed merchandise. At the time, I suggested that Gingrich was channeling “The Producers” and had found the profit potential in a designed-to-fail campaign.
If that’s what he was up to, then his strategy has evidently backfired. But, of course, there’s also the fact that Gingrich ended up surging to the front of the GOP pack last November and December, opening up a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney and even picking up what was supposedly the most influential early primary state newspaper endorsement. It got to the point that Gingrich could say that “it’s very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee” – and more than a few people believed him.
But then the GOP’s opinion-shaping elites turned their guns on him (as did a lavishly endowed pro-Romney super PAC), bursting the Gingrich bubble by New Year’s. It still wasn’t over, though, with a second Gingrich surge-and-crash playing out in mid-January, when he won a startling victory in South Carolina that set off another round of GOP elite panic, which killed off Gingrich for good.
It’s hard to know what to make of Gingrich’s presidential bid. The broad hostility of his party’s elites to the idea of Gingrich being their standard-bearer probably meant that he never actually had a chance at winning the nomination. But whether Gingrich had any inkling of this is anyone’s guess. And if he really was just looking to sell books and drive up his speaking fees, he probably wouldn’t have stuck with his campaign through April, inviting all of the brand-killing ridicule he endured. We may never know why Newt Gingrich ran for president. Maybe he just didn’t have anything better to do.
Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at SKornacki@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornackiMore Steve Kornacki.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.