In 2010, when I pondered Newt Gingrich entering the 2012 Presidential race, I was optimistic indeed. A brilliant history professor with tremendous intellectual agility, Newt was a man, I thought, who could take up the conservative banner and run with it. After all, he had led the great Republican revolution in 1994 and he championed the Contract With America, a Reagenesque basket of specific reforms strongly supported by all conservatives.
Then, earlier this year, Newt came out in full support of ethanol subsidies. As I wrote here:
Bio-fuels are the world's greatest boondoggle. The fuel is inefficient, expensive and actually contributes to the growth of CO2 in our atmosphere. Not only does it make no sense to mandate or subsidize ethanol, it is a major contributing factor to poverty and hunger world-wide. . . .
And indeed, the WSJ crucified Gingrich for this horrid bit of Iowa-centric, anti-conservative politics, labeling him "Professor Cornpone." The WSJ opined that Gingrich's "ethanol lobbying raises larger questions about his convictions and judgment." To say the least.
And yesterday, appearing on "Meet the Press," Gringrich came out in opposition to Paul Ryan's proposed fix for Medicare, calling it a plan for "radical change" and describing it as "right wing social engineering." To top that fatal self-inflicted wound, he announced support for some "variant" of the "individual mandate." The "individual mandate" means a vast expansion in government power beyond anything envisioned by the Founders, no matter how you cut it. As Judge Roger Vinson noted, as regards the "individual mandate:"
It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be ““difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power" . . . and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.
You know, if I wanted to vote for a big government politician who embraces harmful programs for their political value and who wants to vastly expand government power over the individual irrespective of the Constitution, I would vote straight Democrat. Newt doesn't need to be making a bid for the Republican candidacy for President, he needs to be mounting a primary challenge against Obama. At any rate, he won't be getting my vote, much less my support.
Update: Charles Krauthammer delivers the eulogy over Gingrich's 2012 election chances.
RIP - quietly.