We’ve all speculated about the impact of a candidate vs Obama just by watching how the Dem elected ones and media respond. The more the libs and media obsessed with daily headlines, proliferating drip campaign scandal suggestions, the more conservatives knew we were hitting a nerve. The question has always been, can the drip scandal headlines gain traction? With Palin, it was clear they feared this outsider and her enthusiastic support that added life to an otherwise dreary acceptance to a McCain nomination.
Yet Palin was a polarizing figure within the conservative movement herself, inviting surgical and unfavorable scrutiny not only from the opposing party and the media, but from “moderate” conservatives who felt she was uninformed and too radical to be the VEEP.
Flash forward to 2012. With a bevy of GOP candidates who have taken turns exciting the base, only to fall from grace for one reason or another… and faced with the ever present “anyone but Romney” attitude… we find ourselves with Newt, surging in the latest Iowa “post Cain” poll from the New York Times/CBS News. The infamous ostracized one is leading Romney by the nose – literally – at 31-29. Even when the past favorite dark horse, Herman Cain, was factored in, Newt still came out on top with 28%, trailed by Romney with 18%, and Ron Paul at 14%.
There is no doubt that conservatives see no Ronald Reagan in the slim pickin’s here. Nor can any stand out as perfect or few sans flaws. If they aren’t laden with baggage, they lack the ability to inspire, or to debate effectively.
But my mind has been a’swirl of late, watching the bipartisan hatred mount furiously over the unlikely ascent of Newt. While he’s hardly a “Nixon” in his past, he’s certainly been excoriated almost as severely over time. Newt, himself, has done little to abate this criticism. In fact, when Newt’s campaign imploded this past summer, with staffers leaving en masse to jump on the Rick “the chosen one” Perry’s campaign, the complaints were rife with criticism and complaints about Newt’s lavish lifestyle and spending, combined with what appeared to be a lackadaisical attitude towards a serious campaign. When the Gingrich’s took off on a vacation, that was the staff’s final straw.
But Newt didn’t flinch… didn’t quit. Nor has he made any attempt to shirk the responsibilities of his early campaign extravagant debt. Tho there are those that have observed Newt may have violated campaign reporting regulations, even his former staffer, Rick Tyler, speaks favorably of Newt, saying ““Newt will pay them, I’ve got no question in my mind about that. He’s got integrity, and he pays his debts.”
Obviously, Newt tackles his flaws not by trying to avoid them, but by trying to remedy them. During his House ethics investigation, he admitted that “In my name and over my signature, inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee”. You have to give someone credit who steps forward and admits errors and/or perceived wrong doing. Then again, the IRS absolved Newt of any tax avoidance, despite the House ethics committee suggesting that was the case.
One of the problems I have had with Newt has been the same with other conservatives… are we talking about an establishment GOPer in wolf’s clothing here? But today’s establishment GOP hates Newt almost as much, if not more, than the liberals. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out yesterday, the elected elite of both parties are sharpening their long knives for Newt. Establishment Republicans are looking at him like an arch-neoconservative. And on the other side, liberals are all over the press, beside themselves with giddiness at a Newt nomination, saying it would result in a “landslide for Obama”.
Really? Count me as a skeptic, but when I hear that the left is giddy about a candidate, predicting landslide, I’m wondering if we aren’t on to something.
One of the things that both the left and right Joe Blow voter share is this elitist crony government mentality. And those that actually have a handle on real politics, aside for toeing party lines, have a healthy distrust for both. So I listen when pretend conservatives Congressional insiders, like like Joe Scarborough, equate Newt with Glenn Beck. If you are willing to diss Joe’s justifiably “conservative” credentials, Byron York did a round up on the beltway insiders, ready to badmouth Newt.
Of course it’s the Washington insiders who have the most actual experience dealing with Gingrich. Just look at what Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who served with Gingrich in the House in the 1990s, said about the former speaker on Fox News Sunday. “I’m not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership,” Coburn said. “I found it lacking often times.”
“There are all types of leaders,” Coburn continued. “Leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk, leaders that have one standard for the people they are leading and a different standard for themselves. I just found his leadership lacking and…I will have difficulty supporting him as president of the United States.”
Gingrich has also taken flak from another former colleague, Rep. Peter King. “The problem was, over a period of time, he couldn’t stay focused,” King said of Gingrich a few days ago. “He was undisciplined. Too often, he made it about himself.”
It’s more than just former colleagues. If one were to survey politicos, journalists and others who lived through Gingrich’s years as speaker in Washington, there would likely be a near-consensus that Gingrich will blow up his candidacy through some mixture of arrogance and indiscipline. Those insiders simply don’t believe there is a New Newt. Old Newt, the Gingrich who alienated many of his colleagues back in the 90s, will reassert himself soon enough, they believe.
I also listen when I hear right leaning pundits, like Ann Coulter, warn us that Newt can’t be elected. Maybe, unlike her former paramour, Chris Christie, Newt rejected Ann… dunno. But Ann’s not alone in trying to push the nomination towards an Obama’lite candidate from the present field. One of WaPo’s token conservatives, Jennifer Rubin, also warns that Newt’s “most likely to kiss up to the liberal elite”.
Then there’s the opposition career politician’s disdain for Newt – like Democrat House Rep, James Clyburn, who says Newt “flies off the handle” and he can’t “envision” working with him. Barney Frank, on his way out the door, says a Newt nomination would be “the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater.”
Hummm…. do I think that Barney Frank, or any other Democrat, are anxious to pass on valuable inside tips to an obvious loser in a landslide election? Hang no… can’t say I’m that gullible. If these guys thought someone was an obvious loser, they’d be silent as the grave. Don’t want to mess up a sure thing, right?
Call me crazy, but some things are starting to add up here for me in one bizarre possibility. I’m not happy with the GOP establishment elite. I’m not happy with conservative pundits, pushing a new version of McCain, just to win. And I’m certainly going to pay attention when Democrats tell me they are giving me good advice when they say Newt is an Obama landslide in the making.
Seems that all the people on my nerves, also don’t like Newt. Is there anything to that?
What can be said positive about this unlikely insider-outsider? Well, despite all the shortcomings, he certainly led a GOP House with budget cuts, capital gains cuts, and welfare reform with a Democrat President. Of course, he did have the help of a GOP Senate. He was also not afraid to allow a government shutdown to fight for what he believed in. Don’t see that nowadays, right? Newt knows his way around the system… which can be both positive and negative. And he’s unquestionably a formidable debater, which will have great impact in the Presidential Debates that run up to the elections.
While he’s far from perfect, he doesn’t avoid or lie about his abundant and obvious flaws. He admits it, takes it in stride, and shuffles on down the road for his chosen direction. In fact, there is little about Newt that we already don’t know. The big question is, is it acceptable, and can he be effective in this precarious moment in time for our nation?
And he sure doesn’t take guff from the other side, either. Newt, being a (current or former?) insider, knows the game well. So when Pelosi attempted a power play, suggesting a quasi “October surprise” that was supposed to lynch Newt, he immediately called her on the carpet and forced her hand, saying that if Pelosi was thinking she could release investigation material not already public, she was in violation of House rules, and needed serious disciplining.
It didn’t take long for Pelosi’s attorney to tone down the former Speaker’s threats, saying that her threats… er, “comments”.. have been misconstrued.
“Leader Pelosi was clearly referring to the extensive amount of information that is in the public record, including the comprehensive committee report with which the public may not be fully aware,” Hammill wrote in a statement.
A day later, her legal beagles released the link to the full investigation documents, all of which have been available for more than a decade, and do not alter history in the slightest.
I dunno… you got to love a guy who not only doesn’t cower in the face of the Democrat’s power”house”, but also knows how to sling that mud back faster than you can say “Obama lost”.
On the flip side, there is no doubt that Newt faces adversity from not only the conservative and liberal elite or media opposition, but conservative voters themselves – filled with mistrust on flip flops and questions… i.e. the couch potato ad with Pelosi, which he has since admitted was a “dumb idea”.
Then there’s the reality that Newt is no loveable personality. Other than the political leanings, Newt possesses an arrogance not dissimilar to our current Oval Office denizen. Of course, the only difference is Newt is relatively unabashed about his arrogance, while Obama is more sly and slithery.
Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed “moderate” publication**, The Atlantic, assures us that a Newt nomination is the death of the Tea Party and principles. (**Note: Since James Bennett, of New Republic and NYTs history, came to be editor, I’m not entirely sure I give the Atlantic a “moderate” label these days…) Oh my… do we risk the death of the Tea Party with a Newt nomination? The fear tactics abound…
But there’s one thing to consider. I don’t want a candidate popular with the GOP establishment. I don’t want a candidate today saying they are a “uniter, and not a divider”. We’ve had a humble, likeable guy in Bush. Both Obama and Clinton were arrogant, tho Clinton was far more likeable with a genuine talent for delivering speeches with humor… sans teleprompters.
The ugly reality is there are no guarantees. A candidate’s lip service today doesn’t always translate to performance in office. Any one of them could cave to any given situation with a stubborn and divided Congress, unwilling to give up their bad spending habits.
What I want is someone who sees the way out of a fiscal disaster, and won’t take crap from either side. They must be fearless from political assault and threats. I’m not interested in them putting their personal popularity or legacy first. I don’t expect a perfect individual… especially from a politician. But don’t do the dance of blame. Own up, and move on. And most importantly, they have to be a believer of this nation’s free market and capitalist economic foundation.
If the mutual hatred by both sides for Newt is any indication, it may be that Newt is just the guy. He’s certainly adept at being a scrapper, and is not beaten down easily. And it should be the responsibility of the Tea Party conservatives, and those who may end up putting him in office, to make sure he holds true to small government and fiscal responsible beliefs.
But then, we don’t have many choices, do we?
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.