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Right Turn
Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 11/14/2011

Friday question answered

Newt Gingrich is moving up in the polls, but readers are divided as to whether he’ll be the next not-Romney candidate and could actually win the nomination.

A number of readers think Gingrich is deeply flawed. Kcriner notes, “Gingrich gets by by complaining that people hold his record [up] to him. That won’t fly everywhere.” Eonii is also skeptical:

Gingrich is smart and glib, a fascinating autodidact. He’s always interesting, if condescending, and tosses out more ideas than the average pol does platitudes and cliches. Unfortunately, a high percentage of Gingrich’s ideas are screwy. He reminds me of a smarter Dick Morris with even more personal baggage and an equally relentless opportunism. He failed badly as Speaker and those who know him best consider him untrustworthy.

Larry 3435 has it right when he observes that Gingrich is hardly a conservative alternative to Romney:

In the future, everyone will get 15 minutes of being not Romney. Well, maybe not so much in the future. It really is funny that the base darts here and there looking for someone other than Romney because they assume that deep down inside Romney is not really a conservative and will go where the wind blows. That’s funny because deep down inside I am certain that Romney is more conservative than Newt, and Newt has made an art form out of creating a platform of poll-tested, focus group approved proposals, and then running on them (or writing a book about them). Newt’s star will follow the Bachman arc. He will be the next not Romney and he will flame out.

And ChrisFord1 has the most comprehensive critique of Gingrich:

1. His record. Self-destructive, lack of discipline and ethics. Even his greatest triumph, the takeover of Congress, ended with him outwitted by Clinton and deposed as Speaker by the Republicans themselves in 1998.
2. He has more ethical baggage than Hillary.
3. Newt is an idea man, but not the person interested in organizing and carrying any idea he has into reality - in a long, long time. Ideas are not things intended on effecting change, they are ideas to show how smart Newt is so Newt can make more money as a pundit and lecturer. Hundreds of ideas since he left Congress, but no one can name a single one he tried to push into reality.
4. Many people remember him as so personally dislikable and intemperate in the 90s he was rejected out of hand for a Presidential spot in 1996 and 2000. That unpopularity lingers, outside Republican ranks, showing him far behind Obama in getting the moderate and independent vote.
5. Outside the policy wonk area, Newt has shown horrible executive and organizational skills. He has raised little money, despite all his inside the Beltway connections, and his whole staff quit on him last summer over his conduct.

Yet there are still conservatives entranced with his patter and admiring of his intellect. PBS727 declares, “You bet he can. Strongest candidate out there. To hell with with his personal baggage. Just look at [Bill] Clinton, [John F.] Kennedy.” Carldahlmann argues: “Gingrich knows history, and he knows Congress. He’s smart and quick — he would kill Obama in any debate. In spite of his personal baggage, I think he’d make a dynamite President, and would create a very effective troika with Boehner and McConnell — this would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare, which is why I like it.”

I agree that Gingrich will benefit for some time from Herman Cain’s and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s woes. It is ironic that the feisty base, which wants to fight, fight, fight against the Democrats, would consider the last GOP speaker of the House to get badly rolled by the White House. But in short order not only his personal baggage but his embrace of decidedly unconservative ideas and ethical problems will become a turnoff for many evangelicals, the group the not-Romney candidate must capture. For all of his flash and humor, Gingrich remains a loose cannon and an inconsistent conservative — not exactly what the not-Romney crowd is looking for.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 11/14/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign, Friday question

 
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