Newt Gingrich is the hot topic now, for the left, the right and the undecided. Today, three major columns appear on Newt coming from three very different viewpoints.
As I noted in the post below, Newt is giving the left utter nightmares at the thought of him going up against the thin skinned Teleprompter in Chief in debates, and then the direction he would lead our nation once in power. Consequently, we are being treated to one leftie after another "welcoming" a Gingrich nomination and, in a true spirit of bipartisanship, warning conservatives that Gingrich is unelectable.
Today's left-wing offering comes from TNR's Jonathan Bernstein, who assures us that "Newt is still the same wildly unelectable candidate he was five minutes ago, and the polls that say otherwise are no better indicator of voters’ true preferences than a game of darts." Heh. He goes on to explain to his readers that the average Republican isn't paying attention to all of Newt's baggage and just isn't smart enough to know what is good for them. Thank you Mr. Bernstein.
On the other side of the aisle, former Congressman Robert Walker takes to the pages of the USA Today to explain why Newt is the man for the moment. In examining his record, Walker states:
Newt led Republicans to their first congressional majority in 40 years. His Contract With America led us to balanced budgets, debt reduction, welfare reform and 7.5 million jobs. By negotiating with a Democratic president, he attained conservative goals and unprecedented prosperity.
That leadership required focus and discipline. He created a policy framework and saw it through to completion. His critics called him undisciplined because he generated so many ideas, but the reality is he maintained an unrelenting commitment to conservative values and reform. Dozens of ethics charges were leveled against him; none proved credible. His four year speakership arguably was the most successful in decades.
Walker's view is what predominates in the polls today, it would seem. Yet a third note, intellectually honest and reflective, is sounded today by my favorite columnist, Charles Krauthammer.
In comparing Gingrich to Romney, Krauthammer notes that both have "flip flopped" on numerous issues, but that Gingrich has a shining record of conservative achievement. Thus are Gingrich's heresies forgiven by the base. Romney has no such conservative record of achievement, and thus is seen by the base as "ideologically unreliable." Nonetheless, Krauthammer sees in Gingrich a grandiosity surpassing even that of Obama, and as such, a man who could well step far out of the box in seeking solutions to our problems. Krauthammer strikes a cautionary note:
Two ideologically problematic finalists: [Romney] is a man of center-right temperament who has of late adopted a conservative agenda. [Gingrich] is a man more conservative by nature but possessed of an unbounded need for grand display that has already led him to unconservative places even he is at a loss to explain, and that as president would leave him in constant search of the out-of-box experience — the confoundedly brilliant Nixon-to-China flipperoo regarding his fancy of the day, be it health care, taxes, energy, foreign policy, whatever.
I think that a fair assessment. I think it also fair to say that we would be rolling the dice more by pulling the lever for Gingrich than for Romney and that, in a normal election year, Romney would likely be the first choice. But these are not normal times. There are decades of left wing legislation and regulation that need to be undone if we are to survive as a preeminent nation with a robust economy. Deep structural changes need to be made to everything from how our regulatory apparatus functions to the welfare state. We are very much at a crossroads in that regards. As Krauthammer rightly observes, "[i]f Obama wins, he will take the country to a place from which it will not be able to return . . ." And in terms of the foreign situation, we have the continued rise of radical Islam throughout the Muslim world, a nuclear Pakistan, and a soon to be nuclear Iran. These are not normal times. I think Gingrich much more likely to lead and find solutions to these near intractable problems than Romney.
That said, Krauthammer sees Romney as the safer choice, largely on his view of electability. He believes that the general electorate will not be forgiving of Gingrich's "baggage, ideological and otherwise" - and lord knows, the left will be in all out attack mode trumpeting that baggage. But where I differ from Krauthammer is that I think the debates, coupled with Gingrich's promise to follow and respond to everything Obama says during the election season - and all coupled with the horrendous damage done to our economy over the preceding three years - will far more than mitigate the baggage. Krauthammer does not explicitly reach that level of analysis in his column, and thus I think he is wrong in his assessment.