May 16, 2011

Read Meat Time: Abandoning Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has done a lot of good for the country in the past. Welfare reform and balanced budgets typically attributed erroneously to President Clinton should be credited in large part to Gingrich. But that was over 15 years ago. What has Newt done since? He's done things to alienate himself from the conservative base in what seems to be a misguided effort to own the center. It's a center that he doesn't seem to realize the left has been dragging ever-leftward for the better part of a century.

Social conservatives have always had a problem with his divorces and extra-marital affair situation. While distasteful, he could be forgiven for that by some because he was an intelligent articulate spokesman for conservative principles, particularly fiscal ones.

Next up was his support for Hillary Clinton as far back as 2005. He agreed with her on health care of all things. The words 'sell' and 'out' come to mind.

But Gingrich had yet more surprises for the right. He hopped on the global warming hydrogen-powered train. That I suppose could be forgiven just as Obama could be forgiven by the left for talking about opening up domestic drilling opportunities but not really doing anything about it. It may have been a nod to the power of the media in pushing climate change fraud and having to just deal with it. If he were to talk a green game but keep drilling, that might just work. There's two problems with that - integrity and the media. Social conservatives want honesty. Furthermore, if our ideas are inherently better/smarter, we shouldn't have to trick voters into voting for conservatives. The other problem, is that unlike Obama the media would just not let Gingrich get away with it.

The came the Pelosi couch it cemented for many, myself included, that Gingrich is probably serious about his climate change talk. Score one rhetoric victory for the left.  Can't you just hear them saying that the smartest guy on the right is not a climate change skeptic?

Most recently - he panned Paul Ryan's budget plan to erase the deficit. Some have suggested it was an effort to suck up to seniors, again in an effort to lock in a voting block. In this case the way he did it was to tack pretty far left of the field.

That's pretty much the final straw. The few supporters that Gingrich might have had still in his corner are left scratching their heads. Why would the vote for what practically amounts to Hillary Clinton at this point?  Gingrich has done a massive disservice to conservatives and Republicans both in one foolish talking point. Was he just playing politics with voter groups by trying to herd up Medicare voters? This was a golden opportunity for him to re-connect with the right and instead he veered far left.

Was he thinking beyond the primary and trying to position himself for a solid shot at the general election win? Maybe. And that's a commendable idea but a terrible approach. He's turned off most core conservatives. He can't out-left Obama and even the center can be turned against him for flip-floppiness depending on who he's talking to and when. Worse still, there's no benefit for the Republican nominee if he doesn't win. He's torpedoed everyone else's chances by giving Democrats a very usable sound byte.

There's only one way this scenario actually helps conservative Republicans, and it's very short term. If the purpose of this was to siphon off Romney voters and squeeze him out so a more conservative nominee can get in, that would be brilliant. If Gingrich were sacrificing himself as a pawn for the purpose of clearing the decks for a real conservative, I would applaud him. Of course there is still a caveat. There's that nagging problem of Newt turning up in October 2012 as a sound byte in an Obama commercial.  Besides I'm not really convinced that is Newt's motivation.

Newt has lost me with this. I wouldn't say I was ever a backer but he did have a lot of good ideas. Sadly they are no longer worth it for the me. The price has become far too steep and the payoff far too unclear. The one redeeming factor for me is planned or not, he may still help clear Romney out of the field with this move. 

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