In the IBD article linked by Instapundit (see post below), conservative economist Thomas Sowell weighs in on the race for the Republican nomination. His endorsement goes to Newt Gingrich.
As a threshold matter, Jonah Goldberg, in his analysis of whether to vote for Romney or Gingrich, concluded in his post "Newtzilla:"
Mitt Romney is still the sensible choice if you believe these are rough, but generally sensible, times. If, however, you think these are crazy and extraordinary times, then perhaps they call for a crazy, extraordinary -- very high-risk, very high-reward -- figure like Gingrich.
Sowell, for his part, sees our nation in the midst of crazy and extraordinary times indeed:
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election:
"We are going to change the United States of America."
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against that backdrop, Dr. Sowell analyzes which candidate is best prepared to right our ship of state - and comes down definitively on the side of Newt Gingrich:
While the televised debates are what gave Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years — followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was speaker of the House.
Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.
Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.
In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama — and better than Mitt Romney.
Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.
Dr. Sowell then makes the case that Newt's anti-conservative sins are merely venial and that his "baggage" - the marriages, the association with Freddie Mac - will not keep him from defeating Obama. He concludes with a final warning for Republicans who are focused on the negatives and baggage in Newt's past:
Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost."
If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.
On a final note, Dr. Sowell is the author of one of the finest tomes on economics I have ever read - and I've read many. In clear language and with numerous eye opening examples, Sowell makes the case for 'conservative' economics. The book is Basic Economics, 4th Edition, and if you want to give a gift to virtually any conservative - or if you want to watch their head explode, a leftie - who doesn't have a PhD in economics, Dr. Sowell's book should be at the top of your list.