A presidential candidate's image is usually calculated down to the finest detail. Candidates wear what they think we want them to wear, they participate in activities because they think it'll make us like them more (Hand me a beer! I love drinking beer!), they carefully construct every sentence to alienate as few people as possible. In so doing, the voter doesn't actually get to know the real candidate, only the person the candidate wants the voter to see. And this is why we're commending Newt Gingrich for his choice of ringtone. If, as a Republican presidential candidate, you're going to have a song as a ringtone, it might be politically astute to choose something from, say, Lee Greenwood, or maybe just the "Star Spangled Banner." That could impress some primary voters, if only subconsciously. At a minimum, it certainly couldn't hurt. But Gingrich's ringtone isn't anything that's going to impress GOP primary voters. His ringtone is ABBA.
Much of the world was alerted to this fact when Gingrich's phone went off during a meeting in Iowa today. Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register, reported the incident on Twitter:
It may come as a surprise to most people but, in fact, Gingrich's had already proclaimed his ABBA love to the world years ago. Washingtonian cataloged this Gingrich tweet in July of 2009, which has since been deleted:
@newtgingrich: Callista and I watched mama mia the other night. I liked the dancing queen sequence so much watched three times.meryl streep did great job
He watched the "Dancing Queen" sequence from Mamma Mia three times. Three times. And then told people about it. The man just loves ABBA — a seventies Swedish pop group, for Christ's sake. He's feeling the beat of the tambourine, and he doesn't care who knows it. It's a little embarrassing, but it's also refreshing. He's showing us the real Newt, even if some people might find the real Newt kind of weird.