Thursday, December 15, 2011
So WATCH the
IF I'M SO WRONG, PROVE IT... Do you want it to be about TV ads and smears and contextless sound bites and snarky personal accusations? There aren't many professional politicians I'd want to associate with. My dad once dreamed that he was back in Hurricane Hazel, which bowed the front door of his house, and then there was a knock on that door. It was Harry Truman seeking sanctuary. In the dream my dad didn't let him in.
I'm amused by all the expert observers who know more about Newt than I do. Thing is, I was paying close attention when he was Speaker of the House. Guess what. He did more for our side than anyone else in the current list of candidates has ever done. The score isn't even close. But the true believers know better, of course. Here's something for you to consider before tonight: what one of his House staffers, Tony Blankley, has to say:
Almost all political commentators agree on one thing: The Republican presidential campaign is unlike any we have experienced. It is not a campaign of steady trends and continuities, but rather of emotional reversals and discontinuities. Perhaps this is so because the past three or four years have been a shocking time of discontinuities and reversals for America. Really, America has been bewildered, shocked and disoriented since Sept. 11, 2001. The economic collapse and the unprecedentedly statist policies of the past three years have just compounded the anxiety. The rise of China, the fall of Europe and the chaos in the Middle East has been startling in their swiftness - and the lack of American leadership as these dramatic events unfold is sending a shudder throughout the world.
We don’t know what to make of events. We have not been convinced that either President George W. Bush or incumbent President Obama have had a clue about how to make things right.
The GOP primary voters reflect this helter-skelter search for leadership. I predict that when the general electorate is engaged in the election campaign next year, the independents and some Democrats will reflect the same desperate confusion and search for the right kind of leadership for these treacherous times. But what kind of candidate is most likely to be able to make sense of the terrible events and forces that weigh down our country, be capable of vividly describing our plight and what needs to be done and convince the public that he has the intelligence, courage, experience and sheer will to force events favorably to America’s historic interests and needs?
As I have chosen to phrase that question, the question answers itself. It is the GOP candidate currently at the top of the polls, my former boss, Newt Gingrich.
But most Washington politicians don’t see it that way. They see a conventional close election - not a bold, historic lunge by the voters to save the country. They suggest Mitt Romney may be best positioned to stitch together a safe campaign that noses out President Obama by a point or two, or comes up short by a point or two. He might be that candidate.
Thus, Mr. Romney received the endorsement of the GOP political types - congressmen and former congressmen. Now they are doubling down on their early bet and are out telling reporters that Newt was never much of a leader and never got much done.
Curious. I remember most of them enthusiastically following his leadership year after year as Republican whip from 1989 to 1994. It was the most successful congressional opposition movement since Benjamin Disraeli formed the modern Conservative Party in Britain in the mid-19th century. And after the GOP took back the House for the first time in 40 years (and the Senate, too, by the way), Newt’s four years as speaker proved to be the most productive, legislative congressional years since at least 1965 to 67, and they were led by Lyndon B. Johnson from the White House. Working against - and with - Democratic President Bill Clinton, we passed into law most of the Contract With America, welfare reform, telecommunications reform (which ushered in the modern cellphone and Internet age) and the first balanced budget since before the Vietnam War, and we cut taxes and lowered unemployment to less than 5 percent.
Just who the heck do all these professional political wizards think managed all that?
There's more. Read it.
Then think about the contradictions in your own positions. Everyone for Bachmann, Perry, Paul, or Santorum is already conceding the election. Everyone for Romney is making a totally irrational bet that he will perform better as president than he did as governor of Massachussetts. Bad bet. It's the only major elected office he's ever held, but not for want of trying. How long has he been running for president?
You can't have it both ways. If you're determined to lose, then go with the guy who won't look like a monotone marionette (Bachmann), a (way) dumbed-down version of GW, a hectoring old woman who can't ever look anybody straight in the eyes (Paul), or a defeated senator who has been successfully caricatured as paranoid about outbreaks of polygamy and bestiality. Go with the guy who can at least make a fight of it and bloody his opponent even if the decision goes against him..
If you're determined to win, you have another bet to make -- between the tortoise and the hare. Romney is the tortoise, and maybe safer if things were normal, but will the electorate really punch a ballot for Bill Slowsky when the whole world is disintegrating?
Yeah, they've been married for a long time... I'm impressed.
Here's the rub. Things are going to get worse. Europe is imploding, the middle east is tipping into chaos, and even the Chinese economy is slowing down. There is going to be another recession. Is Slowsky the answer? Maybe. But none of the so-called remaining conservative candidates is. Ron Paul doesn't even acknowledge the relevance of Europe and the middle east. Bachmann can't speak without a canned set of talking points from her handlers. Perry doesn't know when the constitution was signed or what it says. And Santorum can't ever blip the polls above zero.
The situation in 2012 may very well be ripe for the sudden turn of opinion that put Reagan in office, whatever the polls say now. Does anyone in the heartland know or care about the definition of the words "nimble" and "agile"? If you don't, maybe you should.
But when it came to fundamental conservative principles and the political strategies necessary to protect them, Newt saw the threats to them and never wavered. I was amused to see Gov. John Sununu, President George H. W. Bush’s chief of staff and a current Romney supporter, criticize Newt last week.
I remember back in 1990, just after Newt had become GOP whip, when Mr. Bush, urged on by Mr. Sununu, was about to break his campaign pledge and raise taxes, which eventually cost him his re-election bid against Mr. Clinton. It was Newt who opposed it. In fact, Marlin Fitzwater, the loyal and shrewd White House press secretary, and no fan of Newt’s at the time, later wrote in his memoirs, “As it turned out, one of the few people on the Republican team who understood this trap [the Democrats demanded Bush raise taxes as the political price to reduce the deficit] was Newt Gingrich. … Newt had … recommended a different course of action: Abandon the budget negotiations [with Democrats], keep the tax pledge, insist that Congress cut spending, and make a political fight out of it. It’s clear now that we should have followed his advice.”
But forget all that. Whoever goes up against Obama really should be able to make the other Republican candidates look lesser. So watch the damn debate.
I promise I will. Brett Baer will be there. Neil Cavuto. Megyn Kelley. and Chris Wallace. I'm thinking they won't be throwing softballs.
And then comes the general election.
Who do you cast in the role of Bugs Bunny against the Obama coyote genius? Are you sure?