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Gingrich? Really?

The Republican Establishment has a problem.  The real issue is that no one seems to like their designated choice for President, Mitt Romney.  The personification of this problem is Newt Gingrich, running what seems to be more of a grudge match than a real Presidential campaign, but it runs much deeper.  Republicans have counted on a base that did what they were told and stayed together in the “11th Commandment” of Ronald Reagan – thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.

Coming into this cycle, the party was hoping to take the Presidency and the Senate.  If this keeps up they could lose 25 House seats and control of that body.  That could happen for a number of reasons, starting with a terrible candidate at the top of the ticket, one way or another, and an exhausted and broke base that has completely lost interest in “politics” as it is being practiced today.

That might cut a number of ways.

As a Democrat, I have to confess that I have mixed feelings about Newt Gingrich’s run.  The man himself is utterly repugnant in his personal life, but that’s his thing.  To then speak about the “sanctity of marriage” is hypocrisy and should not be tolerated in public life.  But to then go after the press for an interview with his ex-wife, whining that it was only days before a primary (with this calendar it will be only days before something) is another level of arrogance.  Combine this with racist code language on food stamps and his record as the first Speaker of the House to be disciplined for ethics violations, and you have a seriously toxic candidate by any measure.

Do I really want this man to have a chance at becoming President?  It should destroy the Republican Party if he gets the nomination, so there’s always that to look forward to. And if you don’t believe me, you should hear what the Republican establishment has to say – quoting here from George Will:

All across the country this morning, people are waking up who are running for office as Republicans, from dogcatcher to Senate, and they’re saying, “Good God, Newt Gingrich might be at the top of this ticket.”

But this is not Gingrich’s race in many ways.  He has not laid out any program that would define a potential Presidency, as he did with the very successful “Contract with America” in 1994.  Gingrich has always been at his best as a man with a plan, and voters typically favor those who seem to have a strong course of action that guides them.  He is also living off the land, constantly broke yet scraping up serious bucks even as the establishment tries to cut it off.  Yet these are the least of his worries.

What defines this race is that many Republicans simply do not like Romney  – which makes me wonder if there’s a general election slogan in there for Romney “Vote Mitt, because Republicans Hate Him.”  Gingrich is little more than the latest dark horse and there could yet be another who jumps in and siphons the “Not Romney” angst away.  Why don’t they like Romney?  It’s very hard to say, but what we do know is that the bile unleashed against the man in the primaries will leave a nasty first impression in the minds of many people who are not Republicans.  The longer this goes on, the worse it is for the party even if Romney wins.

Then there is the Ron Paul contingent.  It appears now that Paul will not catch fire, but you can be sure that his people will stay in until the convention, hoping to make their statement.  They could wind up being the power brokers if the party stays hopelessly split.  Somewhere in here is a real dream scenario for Democrats where there isn’t a functioning “Republican Party” in the near future.

For all of this talk what we can predict is that the Republican Establishment will have to show their hands in public far more than they want to if Gingrich’s momentum continues.  We will all get to know just who is really operating the levers of power as the ratty little dog named Gingrich pulls back the curtain.  They might be able to get this back on track with a wounded Romney ready to square off against Obama, who will likely benefit from a strengthening economy and simply staying out of the fight – but it will no longer be a private game to them.  They, and the American people, will have to get their hands dirty.

Maybe that Citizens United ruling wasn’t so bad after all – in a really strange way.

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23 thoughts on “Gingrich? Really?

  1. Unusually cynical for you! Haven’t you always said that a functioning Republican party is good for Democrats too? But this might have to happen given the Tea Party and the rise of activism in the Republicans. The establishment cant keep control forever.

    • Yes, this is cynical. A functioning Republican Party is a good thing because it keeps us honest – but I can’t say we’ve had such a beast in a while. It’s all been electoral games and playground rules. So if this is what it takes to break things up, well, let’s get through it and move on!

  2. Obama vs. Gingrich? Gingrich would have a big loss–like George McGovern and Walter Mondale did in the glory days of liberalism.

  3. I can’t imagine a woman voting for Gingrich. The hypocrisy is just the icing on the cake for me. No one like that should be in public office period.
    Obama would beat him badly and for good reason. It has nothing to do with taxes or anything other than him being “repugnant”.

  4. It is like we never see the bottom. It always gets worse no matter what. I do not know what people do not like so much about Mitt Romney. He seems like a decent guy even if he is not exciting. To vote for Newt is unbelievable to me and I have certainly voted for people like Romney before even if I was not excited about it.

    • I think Romney could be a decent President, actually, but I prefer Obama. I don’t know why people dislike him so much, to be honest. Mormon? Boring? Rich? Wishy-washy? There are a lot of little things that seem to add up to a lot of nothing.

  5. There is so much more I could have said in this piece, but in the interest of unity and brevity I left them out. The most important to me is the observation that my 15 year old daughter made – that Gingrich is a lot like Nixon, the man who kept coming back despite a terrible personality flaw. Gingrich’s flaw is the exact opposite of Nixon’s – too much self-confidence versus not enough – but the effect is remarkably similar. And … he keeps coming back again and again.
    Why? Is it really that bad that Gingrich is looking like a good idea? I know things were very bad in 1968, so the fact that Nixon looked like a good idea isn’t totally surprising in hindsight … but can anyone really tell us that Gingrich looks like anything other than an overblown buffoon?
    I really don’t get this. But we wound up with Nixon once, too. History doesn’t repeat, but it sure can rhyme like a slam poet on a devastating tear.

    • The Nixon analogy is damn good. You made it earlier in the joke blog with questions on the primary and I didn’t comment then. Things are that bad and we have to expect Huey Longs and Nixons and people like that to rise up to the Peter Principle (the level where they show their incompetence) before they fall. We were too late with Nixon but it was a desperate time. I don’t think we are that desperate now but the republicans might be.

      • Thanks, and excellent point. If the 1968 analogy was to hold we should have a Wallace by now – thankfully, we don’t. Maybe Paul is the Wallace of our time, which is to say that we’re not as bad off but someone from the far outside with a relatively simple and pure message has to make a showing.

  6. That is a funny pic of Newt. Looks like he just spied number 4!
    I am with Annalise, I can’t see any woman EVER voting for him. But some must have in SC. That’s just sick.

    • I want to make fun of the guy, but he’s so awful it’s hard. The only joke I have so far is that we should have some pity for him – it must be hard to keep your pants on when your balls are that big.

  7. Newt Gringich is an asshole. Let’s put it that way. He should not have run because of his deficiencies as a person and leader. He is an old face. Still he is articulating a conservative vision and policy agenda, so that’s why he has support, given the field has narrowed. Romney is perceived as a moderate. He is seen as having a hard time getting the nomination. Let’s recall that Obama and Clinton duked it out. They fought hard. It didn’t end easily. Hilary was the establishment.

    The Dems and Repubs each have establishments and activists. Establishment/ activist conflict is probably as old as modern politics, which started in 1789 or, perhaps a little earlier.

    Does anyone remember if there was infighting in 1988 in the Democrat party primaries and the run-up? There was. After Dukakis lost the general election there were Democrat divisions that had to be healed. Bill Clinton helped pull it together. Clinton ran as a moderate, something that did not please the liberals. Politics isn’t easy. Neither is marriage. Still we have to have relationships with each other as a polity and as parties. The relationship will be what we make of it.

    I previously stated I was voting for Obama. I am now changing that. Romney is a conservative and I am backing him the Nevada caucuses on February 4.

    • Another joke (that no one will get) is that Gingrich isn’t really the biggest prick to ever run for President, so perhaps South Carolina only voted for him because John C Calhoun is dead.
      It’s not much, I admit.
      I have no problem with people who support Romney and I wish you well. If you can save help save a major political party from purgatory you certainly have my blessing. But you have to allow me at least a little schadenfreude if it doesn’t work out – and I don’t say that lightly because I really hate most of the German phrases that are used in popular vocabulary as clichés (for example, I never say zeitgeist).
      But you point out well that this has happened to Democrats many times and we have a spotty record of pulling it together in the end. I have been envious of the Republican ability to heal wounds (which seems to, in part, include promising the insurgent second-placer the nod in 4 years). It probably had to break down someday, and that appears to be now. Between the Tea Pary, the Christians, the Paulite Libertarians, and the establishment there are a LOT of forces to pull together in the end.
      If only we Democrats really had our act together – this could start a few decades of left wing momentum. Ah, there is still time.

  8. Yep, as long as we are stuck with a two-party system we need a sane Republican party. But none of the present R. presidential candidates, least of all Romney, make any sense. They are a bunch of reality-denying, special-interest-serving bums. *Could* them make sense if it were politically expedient in their circles? To what extent do they know the difference between reality and what they are saying….? How much are their cognitive processes distorted by their character defects? Damnfino.

    I think it’s Obama’s incoherent, empty-suit pandering that empowers them. Plus the uncritical reporting that somehow legitimizes the most vile nonsense. Fact-free politics. (Bill Clinton said it.)

    • I think a lot of Republicans are showing some level of spine and protesting the only way they can. Perhaps the rank and file are much smarter than the people running things these days – who seem to be generally the Brodkorb-types of the world who whine the loudest and make everything as crazy as possible.
      100% Fact-Free Politics sounds like a fake product label waiting to be made …. excellent tag, thanks. It’s where we’ve been for far too long. Hard to imagine getting out of this mess without getting past this nonsense, either.

  9. Calhoun reversed is Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson is an American hero because he saw the union coming apart and responded forcefully on the matter. But he was product of his times. We know the Indian Removal policy was not forward thinking.

    …There is sniping over Romney’s health care policy positions. What I have suggested is that we need a national rapprochment on health care policy. There is actually more support for Obama care out there. It just needs to be fostered. I don’t hear the US Chamber of Commerce saying that oura law for universal health insurance ought to be repealed. That’s an area where conservatives and liberals should unite on.

    • Yes, we absolutely need a real dialogue of some kind of health care. How anyone can claim to be pro-business (big or small) and in any way support the current system of sticking employers with the health care tab is far beyond my ability to fathom. Putting Medicare reform in with that is only logical, so there’s something for both parties to give on – and it just has to happen.
      Before the joke primaries, however, we had the joke SuperCommittee – a gag I fell for as much as anyone. I really thought they’d at least never get out of the promises after the big show. Would there be a deal? Recisssion? Some other process? No, the answer was … nothing. Nada. Nichts. Bupkiss.
      Something has to radically change. It has been years since the US Congress even passed a real budget and that’s simply unforgivable.

  10. Andrew Jackson was a big-time war criminal by any rational measure.

    Reagan, Bush II, Nixon … one can go on and on citing examples of Presidents who were politically successful but disastrous for the country and the world. (Maybe there are some Dem. presidents who belong on this list?) Disappointing as Obama is, one can hardly imagine the election of a Republican in this upcoming election as being other than disastrous for the world. The electoral process doesn’t guarantee a good outcome….

  11. Pingback: Republicans’ Crash & Burn | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

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