Yes, Nietzsche ended up insane, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t occasionally hit the nail on the head. Although it isn’t true in all cases that “what does not destroy me makes me stronger,” it is true in many cases.
In the case of Newt Gingrich’s most recent attack against Romney, James Taranto says that Newt may be doing everyone a favor. (BTW, I agree with Danny in saying that Newt has out-Newted himself with his vile attack on capitalism, and rolled himself right off my list of viable presidential candidates.) Here’s Taranto’s take on Newt’s unhinged anti-capitalist attack:
Yet all that said, assuming that Romney is the eventual nominee, Gingrich is doing him a huge favor. To see why, think about what happened to John Kerry, the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat who by the way served in Vietnam.
At a time of national-security crisis, Kerry planned to coast into the White House on his autobiography as a war hero. Against weak opposition, he quickly wrapped up the Democratic nomination, and no one–either opponents or the press–bothered to question the story he told about himself.
Then, once the general-election campaign was under way, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth came along to dispute his accounts of his own heroism and to remind Americans that Kerry’s first foray into political life consisted of Senate testimony in which he viciously slandered fellow veterans. Kerry had no good response–in part because the Swift Boat Vets had him dead to rights, at least on the latter point, and in part because he was unprepared.
Romney is in a troublingly analogous position. At a time of economic crisis, he too is running on his biography, as a businessman who knows how to create jobs. Like Kerry, Romney faced weak opposition, at least until Gingrich’s rise a couple of months ago. Timid Pawlenty and Tongue-Tied Perry tried to land a few blows, but they were barely up for a pillow fight. Gingrich, by contrast, is causing Romney some pain–and Romney is making things worse by saying things like “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
In other words, this primary is Romney’s trial run. If he can’t handle this issue with his own party, he certainly won’t be able to handle it with the nation at large. After all, this isn’t secret dirt and mud that sleazy political operatives are digging up. Instead, this is what Romney is.
Now, I have to admit that, in all the years I’ve thought about Romney as a candidate, one of the things I’ve liked best about him is his willingness to make the hard decisions and revitalize moribund institutions. This country needs that willingness.
A friend of mine who lives in a poverty-stricken region, with most of the poverty-stricken current or former drug and alcohol abusers thinks that, if we don’t keep up Obama-esque unlimited welfare payments, there’ll be blood on the streets. My feeling is that, right now, the country as a whole can absorb the outrage of the current number of disaffected citizens.* The real problems start if Obamanomics provides perverse incentives that expand the number of the very people whom my friend fears.
*I’m not unaware of the fact that many of these disaffected people, including those in my friend’s community, made their bad choices because they were raised by people who made equally bad choices. They emulated the people around them. The fact, though, that circumstances cause people to harm themselves does not, I think, obligate us as a society to perpetuate that harm by funding dysfunctional communities indefinitely.