The Iowa caucuses are upon us, and with it the official start of the 2012 presidential election campaign. Therefore, it’s time to evaluate the Republican field. When you get to it, this race is really about one person: Newt Gingrich.
This really is Newt, Part 2. For all of us who remember 1994, and the Republican Revolution, which is already 18 long years ago, we conservatives are playing jilted wife to that political lothario, Newt Gingrich. Should we take him back and give him another chance? Or is it a case of fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me? A brief disclosure, I was still a conservative Democrat in 1994 and not fully vested in the conservative cause and its home in the Republican Party.
Almost miraculously, Newt has resurrected his political career, since being faced down by Bill Clinton over shutting down the federal government in 1995, and by ethics investigations and censures from which in the long run Newt was mostly absolved. Since those times, Newt has also divorced and remarried. He also has been a highly-paid lobbyist for Washington bad guys, the now government agencies of Fannie and Freddie. He is and has been a bomb-thrower with the English language, controversial, and self-referential, to a fault. Nevertheless, for true-believers like me, we are enthralled with his star.
For example, Gingrich said what everybody who knows any history knows to be true: that the Palestinians are a made up people. Equally outrageous to some is Newt’s comment that the judiciary should be ignored when they render unconstitutional judgments. He is flat out correct about that.
Newt has surged in the polls and is considered the new frontrunner in the fight to go head-to-head with President Obama. Yet, most of the smart money remains on Mitt Romney, because, he is more moderate than the rest, looks presidential, and has raised the most money on the GOP side.
Is it safe to say that Newt is by far the most talented person running for president today? I think so. In fact, I’m willing to speculate of the Republicans, he has the best chance to beat Obama. Why? Because of the sure power of Newt’s debating skill and intellect, and probably nobody else can make the case for limited government better that Newt, even though, like President Reagan, he sometimes or even often diverged from core conservative principles.
Because the Republicans often nominate the person who is “next in line,” Romney must still be considered the favorite to get the nomination. If he does, it will be John McCain all over again. The base has no enthusiasm for Romney. Having passed health insurance for all in Massachusetts, Romney is a non-starter. Romney might not even win New England, much less battleground states such as North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, and Colorado that a Republican almost assuredly has to win to defeat Obama. The country, much less the GOP, does not want a moderate Republican from the Bay State, perhaps the least popular state in the nation besides New York or California.
So really the other serious question that needs to be answered is can Romney go the distance? His best moment in 2008 was his concession speech when he sounded like a true conservative. But I think it will become increasingly difficult for Romney because every contender when they suspend their campaign will have their supporters going to someone else and not to Romney. That will defeat Romney in the long run.
So, really as long as Newt can weather the storm of criticism that he consistently faces from the media, I’m willing to bet on Newt taking the nomination and even defeating the heavily-financed Obama in November.
What about the Republicans besides Gingrich and Romney? They have been criticized for being less than spectacular, but that is not fair. In fact, I think just about all of them are material for hopefully a Republican cabinet in 2013. That even goes for Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign when he was done in by his past associations with women who were not his wife. The challenge for Cain, and really all the GOP candidates is how to maintain yourself as a national figure, and for that he did not appear to be ready. Clearly he will be a top economic adviser should a Republican defeat Obama.
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum is more popular outside his home state of Pennsylvania than inside. Santorum wrongly supported Arlen Specter in a Republican primary against now Sen. Pat Toomey, only a few years before Specter bolted the GOP for the Democrats. Santorum deserves credit for being among the first to identify the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism after 9/11, but other than that, it’s hard to see him gaining a groundswell of support to push him over the top. Santorum’s a sure pick for Secretary of State or Defense.
Ron Paul is everybody’s darling. His following is the most devoted. Just about every conservative agrees with him 100 percent on domestic issues. However, his comments about foreign policy, I believe, show a profound naivete. I’m not even talking about his lack of support for Israel, which is of course, a concern. It’s more that he seems to have no true understanding of international relations except for taking the position of greatly scaling back American commitments overseas, which all in all, makes sense. Nevertheless, Paul’s disqualified for foreign policy inexperience, but hopefully he will be the next Secretary of the Treasury.
Rick Perry? We’re not accepting another “conservative” Texas Republican governor so soon after the George W. Bush presidency, especially since Perry has been in government his whole life and believes in crony capitalism. Stay in the Lone Star State, governor, and solve what to do about securing the border with Mexico, and then we’ll talk.
Last but not least, Michele Bachmann. The only true conservative in the race, and a great patriot of this country. Unfortunately, because she is a woman, she’ll have to clean up her own party first the way that Sarah Palin did in Alaska, before she could be considered the Republican standard-bearer for the White House. Nevertheless, as an attorney, Bachmann is the perfect choice to overhaul the Eric Holder Department of Justice.
As for Obama, his poll numbers have come back, and his support remains steadfast among the unions, university faculty, public school teachers, and public employees. However, independents, bamboozled in 2008, have deserted him. The poor economy, unemployment, and the debt in the United States and in Europe are enough to bring Obama down in 2012, as long as the Republicans nominate a conservative with national appeal.
So the question remains has Gingrich grown enough to deserve a second chance. Frankly, we have no other serious choice or it’s going to be four more years of Obama, out-of-control spending, and socialism.
Daniel Wiseman is an independent political commentator, who focuses on national and international affairs. He spent nine years as a professional journalist in Wyoming before working in fund-raising, non-profit management, and is now working in New York City. Wiseman focuses his writing on how to bring the United States back to its Constitutional moorings. He writes exclusively for Canada Free Press.
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