Oratory died with Leftism, which hides, rather than reveals, truth; and with MTV, which brought America’s attention span down to 15 seconds. This is the sad result. No wonder Newt is popular right now. Whether he’s a snake oil salesman or the real deal, and regardless of staggering baggage, he might just go down as the last real public speaker, someone who can hit core truths and do so extemporaneously.
One of the things my parents always told me was that there is no one more fired with zealotry than a convert. Paul of Tarsus is, of course, the perfect example of the truth behind that statement.
One doesn’t have to look so far field, though, in time at space. Just consider the fact that so many of the most prominent conservative bloggers today are former liberals. Thomas Lifson, of American Thinker; the whole Power Line crew; David Horowitz; Roger L. Simon; Andrew Breitbart; and so many more, once having seen the light, fell compelled to share it with others. To them, conservativism isn’t a background noise, it’s an epiphany. In addition to their zealotry, these neocons have another significant advantage: having once been liberals themselves, they understand the liberal mindset and they can challenge it more effectively than someone who has never seen Leftism from the inside.
Newt Gingrich is currently under attack for being the ultimate government insider. He was an elected representative and then, no matter how he dances around it, he was a lobbyist. Talk about being in the belly of the beast.
In this election cycle, though, Newt speaks with the zealotry of the convert. Unlike Romney, who has the rich, earthy charm of a poorly designed android, and Santorum, who is the really nice guy no one notices, Gingrich is the one on the street corner hollering to the crowds about being saved. Either it’s a fantastic performance, or he has genuinely bought into core conservative notions about the economy, about race in America, about welfare dependency, etc. He is articulating core conservative principles with verve and wit. The added fillip, of course, is that, although Newt has arguably turned his back on the political establishment, he knows better than anyone how it operates and, therefore, is better situated than anyone to bring it under control.
Newt’s joie de vivre makes his presentation so natural that I am currently inclined to see him as a newly converted true believer, rather than a snake oil salesman. Of course, the problem with converts is that, sometimes, they backslide. If Newt has indeed seen the light, it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent change to his core principles or a merely superficial fad.
Apropos Newt’s wit, stick with this short speech excerpt to the end:
We all know the philosophical question that asks, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
The media is trying a variation on this question by asking, “If we completely ignore a fact, so that no one hears about it, does the fact exist?” The media’s latest experiment with this grand philosophical question is to pretend that the audience in South Carolina wasn’t completely thrilled by Newt’s response to opening questions regarding his ex-wife’s accusations about his behavior during their marriage.
I honestly don’t know whether Newt’s direct challenges to the media mean that he has the “right stuff” to be president. I just know that his willingness to stand up and fight the Pravda that the American media has become is a very important and necessary step in the new media age. More Republicans should stop pandering and start speaking truth to media power. It’s time to break this monopoly by showing it the disrespect it deserves.
When Newt does things like this, I like him so very much:
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.
Why, oh why, oh why can’t I get more excited about Mitt? On paper, he’s a very good candidate. Yes, there have been flips and flops, but it’s naive to expect perfect political purity from any candidate. Aside from that, he’s straight out of Hollywood’s central casting, circa 1944: well-educated, handsome, wholesome, loyal, intelligent, efficient, effective, reliable, fiscally savvy, and, apparently, quite nice to have around the office. (Either that, or he’s a German Shepherd, a breed that shares many of those traits.) He should be a dream candidate, but for so many he isn’t.
It’s the Hollywood reference that got me thinking. Pardon me for sounding like Maureen Dowd here, but isn’t Newt the quintessential bad boy from the Hollywood movie? You know, the one who runs around in the leather jacket, with his hair slicked back, but who is actually the hero of the movie, while the clean-cut good guy turns out to have feet of clay?
Yes, I know that it’s hard to see this man
in the role of this man
but I am here to assure you that Mitt’s problem, and Newt’s saving grace (so far) is that, poor Mitt, creature of the 1950s that he is, has wandered into the wrong 1950s movie, the one in which the anti-hero, not the hero, saves the day.
UPDATED: I feel a little embarrassed looking at the above post, a very fluffy post, as Keith Koffler makes plain that the upcoming election is a pivotal one, when that will definitely determine the direction the United States takes in the foreseeable future.
I’ll say here what I’ve said before and that’s that I will vote for whichever candidate is not Obama. That’s the bottom line for all of us. We have to support ferociously whomever gets the Republican nomination. (And that will be a bitter pill for me if Ron Paul does.)
Newt made a very good point about his earlier support for an individual mandate when it came to health care: The Heritage Foundation, as reputable a conservative think tank as one can find, actually thought the idea was a good one. Then, as Newt did, it backed off when it realized the ramifications:
Scott Pruitt, attorney general of Oklahoma: “Mr. Speaker, you speak passionately about first principles and small government — smaller government, yet you supported individual mandates for health insurance….Why should limited government conservatives like me trust that a President Gingrich will not advance these sorts of big government approaches when you are president?”
Newt Gingrich: “Well…the original individual mandate originally was developed by [the] Heritage Foundation and others as a method to block Hillarycare in 1993, and virtually all of us who were conservatives came to the conclusion that, in fact, it was more dangerous and more difficult to implement, and guaranteed that politics and politicians would define health care. And that’s why virtually every conservative has, in fact, left that kind of a model.”
Speaking of Newt, was I the only one who was delighted with his response when Nancy Pelosi threatened to reveal secrets? Rather than cowering, he said (a) bring it on and (b) I’m going to ream you for violating ethics rules. And then she backed down. This is why conservatives like Newt. He’s not afraid of the establishment. He may be a fruitcake, but he’s our warrior fruitcake!
Since at least Reagan, the standard liberal trope is that Republicans, both voters and politicians, are stupid. That trope has, of course, emerged again this year. The joker in the deck is Newt Gingrich, a PhD and author who spokes with incredible fluency and has a masterful grasp of facts.
With Newt as the frontrunner, the Left is rallying with a line of attack I’ll call “Newt’s not as smart as all that.” Exhibit One is a Frank Bruni NYT’s Op-Ed sarcastically entitled “Professor Gingrich.” To set up his premise that Newt’s not as smart as all that, Bruni carefully insults the other Republican candidates:
The candidates who surged before him are to varying degrees yahoos. They proved it anew last week. Michele Bachmann [a successful lawyer] seemed to be under the impression that we had an embassy in Iran, and Rick Perry [Air Force pilot and successful long-time Texas politician] was definitely under the delusion that the voting age in this country is 21 instead of 18.
Herman Cain [multiple degrees, Navy background, hugely successful businessman), on his Web site, unveiled the foreign-policy analogue to his 9-9-9 tax jingle, a world map that merely labeled countries “ally,” “adversary” and the like. Had it instead presented little thumbs-up and thumbs-down symbols, along with palm trees for hot countries and snowflakes for cold ones, it wouldn’t have been any more simplistic.
Funnily enough, Bruni’s paragraph didn’t include a rant about a politician who’s spoken about America’s 57 states, appeared impressed with the Austrian language, bemoaned attacks on English embassies, applauded the military’s “corpsemen,” waffled on about mysterious “price versus earnings ratios,” held only one non-academic, non-political job (the Annenberg Foundation) that was a major disaster, and kept all of his grades carefully under wraps. I guess Bruni just forgot about him. But I digress…
Having established that Republicans are “yahoos,” Bruni goes in for the kill against the one Republican who doesn’t have “yahoo” written on his resume. Newt’s problem isn’t that he’s smart, it’s that he’s proud of being smart, damn him!
But then there’s Gingrich, the former college professor, who regularly brandishes his Ph.D. in history from Tulane. He does it directly, as in a 1995 interview when he bragged, “I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.”
He does it obliquely, by constantly invoking centuries past. Ask him about the price of milk, and he’ll likely work in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
Couple that showy scholarship with his grandiose streak and you get pomposity on a scale that would make a French monarch blanch. Last week, in an electronic book published by Politico and Random House, it was revealed that he had compared the attempts to retool his initially beleaguered campaign with the founding of Wal-Mart by Sam Walton and of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc.
In a Fox News interview he one-upped any of Al Gore’s long-ago claims about “Love Story,” Love Canal or the invention of the Internet.
“I helped Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp develop supply-side economics,” he boasted.
“I helped lead the effort to defeat Communism in the Congress,” he added. Put aside the tortured locution — were there reds among the House’s Blue Dogs, along with Bolshevik backbenchers? — and you’re left with an audacious credit grab.
And in Bluffton, S.C., he told voters that he didn’t need to lobby because after he left Congress, “I was charging $60,000 a speech, and the number of speeches was going up, not down. Normally, celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.”
Faced with the reality of Newt’s intellectual and knowledge, Bruni reluctantly concludes that the Republicans feel that they need someone who can speak at Obama’s rarefied level:
If you consider how ardently Republicans courted Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, you’re forced to conclude that they do value, and crave, an intellectually muscular candidate who can square off against President Obama. The 2012 election has a fundamentally different temperature from the 2010 one. There’s arguably worse economic uncertainty this time around, greater stakes and a seemingly waning thirst for Tea.
And Republicans appreciate that a presidential race, and the presidency itself, have a higher altitude than a Congressional showdown. Some palpable gray matter really does come in handy.
Isn’t that a nice phrase? “Palpable grey matter.”
Yes, it is true that Republicans have normally favored do-ers over talkers. This year, they recognize, though, that Obama has so decimated the country’s psyche that they need someone who can talk us out of the hole Obama dug (or do I mean off the ledge Obama has yakked us onto). And Republicans, being smart, are looking carefully at the one candidate who can blow to Hell and back any pretense that Obama is as smart as he thinks he is.
After all, as Bruni’s column perfectly shows, liberals tend to reduce “intellectualism” to who’s faster with the personal attack. (Think “palpable grey matter.” ) During an argument with a liberal yesterday, an argument that wasn’t originally focused just on me, my opposing party managed to reduce the argument down to three statements: “You’re an idiot. You’re an effing moron. You’re a jackass.” I was not impressed either by the liberal’s grasp of facts or advocacy tactics. What really depressed me, though, wasn’t the string of meaningless insults. It was that this is what passes for reasoned debate on the liberal side of the political spectrum.
On the subject of insults I’ll say one more thing: given the virulence with which the MSM attacks conservatives — not their ideas, but their person — perhaps it’s not surprising that so few are willing to stand up to be beaten down.
One of the reasons a lot of people, myself included, like Newt is because he says politically incorrect things that ordinary people think. In other words, his politically correct utterances aren’t out of the KKK playbook, they’re out of “the reasonable common-sense before 1960s Leftist education took over” playbook.
A week ago, he said that child labor laws are stupid insofar as they prevent children from getting paying jobs (including janitorial jobs) that would help them to maintain their own schools — at less cost, incidentally, than using unionized janitors. His most recent utterance, expanding on this point, was that poor children have no work ethic:
“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.
“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.
All the usual suspects are up in arms. I haven’t bothered to hunt down quotations from the unions that keep schools supplied with janitors, but I’m sure they’re not happy. More than that, though, Newt’s statements have been interpreted to mean that he advocates a return to 19th Century child labor, complete with seven-day work weeks, 12 of which are spent laboring in a coal mine. Take a gander, for example, at this screen shot from YouTube after I searched up “Newt Gingrich poor children”:
Charles Blowhard, New York Times opinion columnist, is horrified that Newt might look at the way in which the poor behave and conclude that their learned behavior contributes to their poverty. He also comes back with reams of statistics about the fact that the poor do work:
This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.
Gingrich wants to start with the facts? O.K.
First, as I’ve pointed out before, three out of four poor working-aged adults — ages 18 to 64 — work. Half of them have full-time jobs and a quarter work part time.
Furthermore, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, most poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty — defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level — a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas — those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor — nearly a third live with at least one working parent.
I’ll accept as true the fact that the poor work, but that’s too facile. We also need to look at their attitude towards work. As Shakespeare would say, there’s the rub. Let me quote from a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, describing the way in which a white liberal tried desperately to explain away the fact that large corporations find it extremely difficult to keep minority employees:
Mr. Bookworm works for a very large corporation. While we were in the car with the kids, the conversation turned to the exquisite sensitivity the corporation has to show when it’s faced with firing a minority employee. The process is arduous, requiring huge HR involvement, dozens of staff interviews and a lengthy paper trail.
The reason for this labor intensive firing is the unfortunate fact that minorities tend to be less satisfactory employees. As Mr. Bookworm was at great pains to point out to the children (and correctly so), this is a group trend and has nothing to do with the merits of any individual minority employee. It’s just that, if you look at a bell curve of minority employees versus a bell curve of white employees, you’ll find more white employees than minority employees in the segment denoting “good worker.” No modern corporation, however, wants a reputation as a “firer of minorities.”
The above are facts. What fascinated me was the different spin Mr. Bookworm and I put on those facts. Mr. Bookworm sent twenty minutes explaining to the children that, to the extent blacks were poorer employees, it was because their culture made them incapable of working. (This was not meant as an insult. He was talking, of course, about the culture of poverty.).
Mr. Bookworm painted a picture of a black child living in a ghetto, with a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 14, with several siblings from different fathers, with a terrible school, surrounded by illiterates, hungry all the time, etc. No wonder, he said, that this child doesn’t bring to a corporation the same work ethic as a middle class white kid.
This creates big problems for corporations. A modern corporation truly wants to hire minorities. Once it’s hired them, though, according to my liberal husband, it ends up with workers who are incapable of functioning in a white collar, corporate environment. The corporation therefore finds itself forced to fire it’s minority hires more frequently than white or Asian employees, with the result that it’s accused of racism. Its response to that accusation is to proceed with excessive caution and extreme due diligence whenever a black employee fails at the job.
My suggestion to the children was that minority employees, aware that it’s almost impossible to fire them, might be disinclined to put out their best efforts on the job. Why should they? Logic and energy conservation both dictate that a smart person should do the bare minimum to get a job done. In this case, for the black employees, the job their doing isn’t what’s in the job description. Instead, their job is simply to keep their job.
Amusingly Newt thinks exactly the same as my liberal husband does. They both blame black culture for poor black employment habits. The difference is that, while Newt thinks it’s a fixable situation, starting with the children and their attitude toward labor, my husband, like Mr. Blowhard, thinks that all one can do is accept that minorities are going to be lousy employees.
America’s black poverty culture (as opposed to the Asian or East Indian) poverty culture is handicapped by a terrible, false syllogism:
- Slavery was work
- Slavery is evil
- All work is evil
Even when they’re getting paid, too many African-Americans seem to feel they’ve sold out — that any work involving the white establishment is tantamount to slavery and that they can participate in this system by participating least. It’s a principled stand, but it’s a principle that’s in thrall to terribly flawed logic and that ensures generational poverty and despair. As far as I’m concerned, Newt gets serious kudos for his willingness to state what is, to the working class, quite obvious: learn how to work well when you’re young, and you’ll be able to support yourself when you’re old.
Back in 1987, when he was campaigning for President, one of George H. W. Bush’s advisers suggested that he back off from spouting minutiae to the electorate and spend some time focusing on the big picture, So that he could better sell himself to Americans. According to contemporaneous reports, Bush, Sr., was not impressed:
“Oh,” said Bush in clear exasperation, “the vision thing.”
Bush went on to win the 1988 election, despite his failure to articulate a vision for the American people. He didn’t have to engage in inept abstract fumbling to endear himself to voters. What he understood, consciously or unconsciously, was that Reagan had articulated “the vision thing” so beautifully that it covered, not only Reagan’s own administration, but Bush’s election efforts as well.
It helped, too, that Reagan passed on to his Vice President a roaring economy and a country that still maintained at least the gloss of an American identity. Back in those days, even though I was only just out of law school (meaning I’d spent the previous 19 years in academia), I’d never heard of political correctness, community activists, multiculturalism or Howard Zinn. I called myself a Democrat and had never heard of a Progressive. Although these ideas were making serious inroads into American education in the 1980s, those of us who cast our votes in 1988 were still relatively untouched by the revamping of America’s self-image. Nobody needed to tell us who we were, because (probably thanks to Reagan) we already knew.
Things are quite different as we head toward the 2012 election. America is in a deep economic morass, college students and Communists are rioting in the streets, Europe’s economy is collapsing, China’s economy is shrinking, and the Middle East is a more-seething-than-usual cauldron of antisemitism and anti-Western hatred. Times such as this would seem to cry out for a strong managerial hand. It ought to be Mitt Romney’s moment. After all, he radiates wonkish competence.
And yet Mitt Romney is not the conservative candidate of choice. Instead, he’s the conservative candidate of “we’ll take him if we can’t find anyone else.” If you look at the alternatives, the ones who have risen and then fallen, all have one thing in common: they’ve got “the vision thing.” Mitt is disciplined, effective, intelligent and decent, but he’s not a visionary — or, if he is, his rhetorical skills are too weak to convey that vision to the American people.
Mitt’s problem is that not all of America’s current wounds can be measured with economic charts and analyses about our friends and enemies abroad. Both Barack Obama’s presidency and forty years of relentlessly Leftist education and media saturation have severely damaged America’s sense of self. As a nation, we no longer have a unifying vision. Our children have been raised to think that we are now and always have been a racist, imperialist, overbearing, heartless, capitalist monster that preys on weak, victim-class individuals and helpless third-world nations. The fact that readily available facts put the lie to this ideology doesn’t help these children and young adults. Instead, when the Leftist ideology that dominated their education meets the facts on the ground, that clash creates a paralyzing cognitive dissonance. The result sees the members of Generation ZZZZZ marching through the streets, grimly clutching their iPhones and computers, whining about student loans incurred at fancy Ivy Leagues, and hysterically protesting against corporations and banks.
America’s impaired sense of self pre-dates Obama’s presidency. Indeed, it was this pre-existing psychological damage that put Obama on the path to the White House. He made Americans feel good about themselves, not in traditional terms (individual liberty, melting pot strength, world bastion of freedom, etc.), but in wonderful New Age terms: we were all going to come together in a giant kumbaya circle, and throw our ill-gotten capitalist gains into a giant, village style collection bin set up in the heart of Washington, D.C.. Then, the Capitol, under Obama’s magical aegis, and with help from a supportive Democrat Congress, would lower the seas, clean the air, cause the lion (and myriad polar bears) to lie down with the lamb, and generally bring about an environmentally perfect socialist utopia. If you liked fairies and unicorns, Obama was your man.
Back in the 1950s, had a candidate spouted this utopian vision, he would have been laughed off the national stage. A generation raised on Depression and War was a bit too sophisticated to buy into political fairy tales. Back then, Americans knew who they were: tough survivors; a free people who, at the cost much American blood, had brought that freedom overseas; and innovators. They did not believe in pixie dust. This latest generation, however, raised on self-loathing, needed a fairy tale, with the kiss of a handsome prince magically making everything better. To many, Obama was that prince.
The Obama fairy tale, sadly for his followers and sadly for this nation, did not end with the kiss and a formulaic “they lived happily ever after.” Instead, we’ve had almost three years of utopian reality, which has been remarkably painful. Obama and his crew have offended our allies, pandered to our enemies, presided over the break-up of a stable (although always ugly) Muslim Middle East, destroyed our gains in Iraq, presided over the longest recession in our history since the Great Depression, increased our debt and deficits to previously unimaginable limits that will burden our children and grandchildren, laid the groundwork for destroying the best medical system in the world (and that’s true despite inequalities in the systems), handed over billions of taxpayer dollars to cronies, killed American citizens with bizarre “crime fighting” plans across our Southern border, increased racial divisiveness to a level not seen since the early 1960s, and generally left Americans prey to a doom and gloom that seemed inconceivable when they elected the magical unicorn man.
What Americans feel now is despair. Or as Jimmy Carter might have said, malaise. Democrats are stuck with Obama, but Republicans have the opportunity to select a candidate who will articulate a core American vision. As our desperate search for the anti-Romney shows, we don’t just want a competent, clean-cut wonk; we want someone who bring to life a unifying vision of this nation, not as some sort of post-American socialist paradise, but as an entirely American bastion of freedom and opportunity.
For all his baggage and, yes, periodic political instability, Newt is that spokesman. The breadth and depth of his knowledge, his cheery demeanor, his up-beat campaign, his wit and erudition, his scary deep understanding of how Washington works, and, above all, his manifest love for America — all of these things promise voters an alternative vision to Obama’s 2008 “kumbaya world” or his 2011 “everybody is evil and stupid except for me” world. It helps that Newt’s skeletons, rather than hiding demurely in closets, are out dancing merrily in the streets. Everything about him will be hashed and re-hashed, but it will all be old news. To the extent there are “surprises,” they will be mole hills, not mountains.
In this lost and confused time, Americans need a clarion voice. If Romney is the chosen Republican candidate, I will happily vote for him, as I believe he will be a perfectly decent candidate, able to un-do much of the damage Obama and his cohorts caused at home and abroad. But Romney is not a clarion voice, and Newt is. It’s that “vision thing” that explains why I think Newt will win the 2012 Republican nomination — and take the White House too. America didn’t need it in 1988, but it sure needs it now.
The alternative title for this post is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Scott Galupo is no Newt Gingrich fan, but he genuinely hates Mitt Romney, whom he describes in the same terms once used to describe Tom Cruise: “I don’t sense a man there. I sense a bristling mass of ambition.” He sees Newt as flawed, but with one genuine conservative accomplishment under his belt, while Mitt has done nothing to earn the conservative description but for the fact that he’s placed the “R” after his name:
Still, there’s a way Newt can effectively undermine Romney and get himself back in the good graces of the conservative base. He needs to stay out of the briar patch of Romney’s position on this or that issue, and focus on one thing: his accomplishments as speaker.
If I were Newt Gingrich, I’d dial down the “vision thing” and draw these contrasts:
What has Mitt Romney ever done, while in office, to advance the conservative cause? He got himself elected in a bedrock liberal state and served four unspectacular years. Whoop-de-do. Name one instance where Mitt Romney fought for conservative principles when it didn’t suit his electoral needs.
Newt was the architect of the most significant rightward shift in the politics of the whole nation, not just one state. Domestically, he did more to slow the growth of government than Ronald Reagan did. After he departed, the party beat a retreat from the Contract with America legacy, and, under Rep. Tom DeLay, emitted an ethical stench far more fetid than the overblown controversy over Gingrich’s book deal.
I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I will vote for anything or anybody that opposes Obama. I’ve also conceded that all of the conservative candidates are flawed. Indeed, the problem with our primary system, not to mention conservatives’ own obsessive quest for candidate perfection, is that we tend to use the primary process to highlight the candidates’ flaws rather than their virtues. Ultimately, I’m sure it’s a good thing, because the eventual Republican nominee is thoroughly vetted by the time the media savages him (or her) for having the temerity to challenge a member of the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, it’s a painful and somewhat damaging process, not just for the candidates, but for the voters too.
I will therefore vote for either Mitt or Newt. I’m not sure which of them will make me most or least happy, but I know that each will be better than Barack.
Hat tip: Earl Aagaard
America’s First Sergeant put up a post that perfectly addresses my last two attempts to figure out Mike McQueary’s inaction. The first post I wrote looked at McQueary’s alleged youth, which I contrasted with the even youthier youth of a few Medal of Honor recipients who didn’t hesitate to act. The second (with lots of help from jj) examined the prevailing moral relativism that gives a pass to all conduct (except, of course, for voting conservative).
If you read A1stS’s post, which reprints portions of a speech that Colonel Barton S. Sloat gave, you will see a perfect statement about the moral compass each of us should have and that, in an unbalanced age, many are missing.
Because for me it’s always about politics, I’m going to drag poor old Newt in here for a minute. In a normal election year, I don’t think Newt, with all of his undoubted baggage, would have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning. But 2012 won’t be a normal election year.
Past elections have seen the candidates fighting each other in the middle — a little tax more or a little less; a little more foreign aggression or a little less; a little of this and a little of that. Obama’s presidency, however, ripped America from her long-standing economic and foreign policy moorings. It also swept away the warm, fuzzy media manipulation that had prevented ordinary people from seeing the Left up close and personal. The result is that the 2012 election isn’t taking place in the middle. It will be a profound ideological war about America’s identity.
In 2012, we will not longer be talking about a tax tweak here and a battalion there, although those concrete details matter to America’s survival. Instead, we are talking about the moral space in between: Are we a country guided by a traditional morality that lives in each citizen’s heart and soul, or are we a vast government conglomeration with faceless cogs entirely controlled by bureaucratic powers?
In this heated ideological environment, will victory go to the candidate who is pretty darn conservative and whose life is a model for moderation and purity (that would be Romney, who may flip-flop, but he’s still to the right of the political divide), or does it go to the candidate who comes with more shackles attached than Marley’s ghost, but who can spell out in lively, fluid, accessible prose what we stand for as a nation?
I suspect that whether Newt or Mitt becomes president, we’ll see a situation that will be six of one and half dozen of the other in terms of governance. However, when it comes to defining us as a nation, and perhaps helping us determining how we want to fill the moral space in between, Newt may well be the 2012 candidate we need, even if we don’t always want him.
Post Script: If you want to see the vapidity the fills those spaces during evil’s off hours, check out The Mellow Jihadi on the Kardashians.
Hold onto your hats, folks, because this is a BIG ONE. I mean, this is the kind of thing that can make or break elections. Are you ready?
NEWT IS AN ABBA FAN (although he loses points for liking it as presented in the movie, which is lousy, rather than appreciating it as sung by the original ABBA crew)!!!
Because I too am an ABBA fan (although Dancing Queen is not one of my favorites), I now feel it is incumbent upon me to vote for him. Right? I mean, isn’t this how the popularity contest . . . er, political process works?
Here is a better ABBA song, and one worth remembering given that we live in a political climate based upon complete denial when it comes to genuine threats:
I can’t decide if Rich Lowry is praising Newt with faint damns or damning him with faint praise, but it’s still an excellent précis of the candidate that is Newt:
In many ways, Gingrich would be better-suited as an intellectual ombudsman of the GOP race than as a candidate himself; he has more baggage than Queen Elizabeth II on a road trip. But the hour is late and the pickings are slim. He ran when others didn’t, and his outsider-populism is tinged with brilliance. Republican voters not sold on Mitt Romney might have to decide that you go to political war with the alternative you have.
This is what passes for humor on the Left: Get a “celebrity” who’s been in prison for rape, has bitten off people’s ears, kicked strangers in the groin, is a high school drop-out and — oh, yes — happens to be black, and have him pretend to be Herman Cain in a parody that calls Tea Partiers racist (despite the absence of any evidence to that effect) and describes Herman Cain as an insane Uncle Tom.
I’m coming to prefer Gingrich, but it doesn’t mean that any cell in my body approves of these heinous, racist, baseless, ugly attacks on Herman Cain, a man of stature and accomplishment.
Dorothy Rabinowitz thinks that Newt’s slow but steady race, one that focuses on beautifully articulated ideas, will win the day. She points to this speech as evidence of Gingrich’s intellectual strength:
(Or view it here.)
What do you think? As for me, the more I see of the others, the more I like Newt, and that’s despite recognizing his many failings. To be honest, it’s just such a pleasure to listen to a truly great orator — vastly well-informed, incredibly lucid, humorous. I like it.