The South Carolina victory speech of Newt Gingrich last night. Most such primary victory speeches are fairly forgettable efforts and the Gingrich speech was largely no exception except at one point in the speech. Go to 12: 30 on the video, and watch Gingrich lambaste many elites in our society for their anti-religious bigotry. Gingrich has raised the issue of anti-Catholic bigotry in particular, and anti-Christian bigotry in general, before in this campaign, go here to read his earlier comments, and he may have hit on the sleeper issue of the year in this campaign. With the words of Pope Benedict, go here to read them, warning last week about the lessening of religious freedom in this country, this is a message whose time is now upon us. Continue reading
It’s looking like a fairly sizable victory for the former Speaker of the House. So much for Romney’s inevitability.
Open thread for discussion. Please keep it civil.
Gingrich turned the tables effectively on John King of CNN last night at the final debate prior to the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Here is the transcript:
JOHN KING: And just as speaker Gingrich surged into contention here in South Carolina, a direct fresh character attack on the Speaker.
And Mr Speaker, I want to start with that this evening.
As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with The Washington Post. And this story has now gone viral on the internet.
In it, she says that you came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage.
Would you like to take some time to respond to that?
GINGRICH: No, but I will.
GINGRICH: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.
KING: Is that all you want to say, sir?
GINGRICH: Let me finish.
GINGRICH: Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.
My – my two daughters – my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.
KING: As you noted, Mr Speaker, this story did not come from our network. As you also know, it is a subject of conversation on the campaign. I’m not – I get your point. I take your point.
GINGRICH: John, John, it was repeated by your network. You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with it.
Let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period said the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren’t interested because they would like to attack any Republican. They’re attacking the governor. They’re attacking me. I’m sure they’ll presently get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul.
I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.
(APPLAUSE) Continue reading
Marianne Gingrich’s claim that Newt wanted an open marriage is the news story of the day. In all honesty, this doesn’t tell us that much more about Newt than we didn’t know already. Some have already said that this is no worse than simply cheating on your spouse, and, politically speaking, this might not have any impact at all on the race.
That being the case, it does serve as a forceful reminder that Newt Gingrich is kind of a jerk. In fact, I think that if his ex-wife’s claims are true (and admittedly, we don’t know for certain), then it is even a bit creepier than just having an affair. It indicates that Newt is not that concerned about the feelings of other people. Based on what we know of the man, he gives off a vibe that he views other people as simply pawns. While he would hardly be the first such personality to become president, it doesn’t mean we should be so flippant about allowing such a man to obtain the highest office in the land.
Now, we know that Newt has had a conversion, and that people change over the course of their lives. Perhaps the Newt from the mid 1990s is not the same man that he is today. We can’t really judge the state of a man’s soul, and I don’t propose to do that now. But we have to consider a couple of things. First of all, as we are all too well aware, simply becoming a Catholic does not make one a saint. We are abundantly aware that we are all sinners, and though we all hope that a closer relationship to Jesus fostered through the Church makes us better people, it’s still a struggle.
More importantly, this didn’t happen when Newt was a young man. Newt was nearly two decades older than I am right now when this all happened. Yes, men older than Newt have had conversions of the heart. But a conversion is not necessarily a transformation into a completely new man.
I don’t know what kind of person Newt is right now. But I know what he has been, and I’m not going to turn a blind eye to an individual’s character simply because people on the other side of the aisle are all too willing to do so.
People are crying crocodile tears about Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry attacking Mitt’s record with Bain Capital. While I think some of the rhetoric has been excessive, I also don’t think this line of attack is completely out of line. As conservatives we tend to reflexively defend all market institutions without first considering that some institutions are a little shady. Moreover, I find it incredibly amusing that people are using this as a cudgel against Gingrich and Perry when Romney was the one who attacked Perry from the left on social security and basically charged him with wanting to take people’s social security away. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Whether or not you think this line of attack on Romney is fair, Mitt is going to have to come up with a better line of defense than this:
On the heels of his decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney took the attacks on his private sector record used by GOP rivals and turned them against President Obama.
Romney’s critics have accused him of destroying jobs in order to increase profits for his investment firm, Bain Capital, but speaking Wednesday on CBS, Romney said that what he did was no different from the Obama administration’s auto industry bailouts.
“In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler – closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers – he did it to try to save the business,” Romney said Wednesday on CBS.
This is a preemptive strike against a potential line of attack in the general election, but does Mitt really want to imply that what he did was not much different than what Obama did with the bailouts? He’s already got Romneycare hanging around his neck, and now he’s volunteering a comparison with President Obama that most conservatives are not going to find flattering.
Hey, Mitt, you haven’t sewn up the nomination quite yet. You might want to keep that in mind before opening your mouth again.
I assume that only hard core political junkies like me watched the New Hampshire Republican presidential debate last night which is a shame. All of the candidates acquitted themselves well, including Ron Paul who came across as avuncular Uncle Ron, instead of crazy Uncle Ron. Go here for a first rate overview of the debate. It was a debate heavy on substance and each of the candidates dealt with the questions adequately. I think Rick Santorum, who had quite a bit more air time last night than he did in previous debates, did himself a lot of good. However, the standout moment of the debate came when Newt Gingrich dealt with a question about gay marriage. The question was phrased as one would expect by denizens of the mainstream press, asking the candidates how they would talk to a gay couple who wanted to get married. When Gingrich’s turn came, he was having none of it.
“Should the Catholic church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?” Mr. Gingrich asked.
Rasmussen is first out of the gates with a national poll of the Republican candidates following Iowa. Santorum has risen 17 points to 21% with Romney at 29%. Gingrich is at 16% and Ron Paul is at 12%. Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry are both at 4%. Romney seems incapable of moving out of the twenties in any of the national polls on the Republican nomination. Santorum has a lot of room to grow, and Romney seems to have hit a firm ceiling for his support in regard to the nomination race.
UPDATE 1-8-2012: We have eliminated Ron Paul due to spamming issues. If you feel the need to cast a vote for Ron Paul, please do s0 by leaving a comment.
John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Buddy Roemer, and Paul Ryan never announced their candidacy for the GOP nomination as some had speculated, so they have been removed from the TAC Poll. In addition, Gary Johnson has removed himself from consideration the moment he accepted the Libertarian Party Nomination. Herman Cain has suspended his campaign which is nothing more than preventing the inevitable.
Here’s our latest poll so please vote in anticipation of the Iowa Caucuses (voting ends 7pm this Friday):
Good or bad, this is what you get with Newt Gingrich:
GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich said Congress has the power to dispatch the Capitol Police or U.S. Marshals to apprehend a federal judge who renders a decision lawmakers broadly oppose.
Gingrich says if there is broad opposition to a court decision, Congress should subpoena the ruling judge to defend his or her action in a hearing room.
When asked if Congress could enforce the subpoena by sending the Capitol Police to arrest a judge, Gingrich assented.
“If you had to,” Gingrich said. “Or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshall.”
Gingrich cites the 9th Circuit’s decision that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional as a prime example of why such a reform would be necessary. It’s easy to use examples like this of judicial indiscretion in order to justify such drastic action. Yet what of judicial interventions where the Court and not the legislature is acting in accord with the Constitution? I can think of several examples where conservatives cheered – rightfully – when the Supreme Court overturned an act of Congress. In US v Lopez, US v. Morrison, and Citizens United v. FEC, just to name a few cases, the Supreme Court acted on the side of the Constitution as opposed to Congress, and did so presumably against the majority will. As we speak the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about the individual mandate and other aspects of Obamacare, and once again conservatives (again rightfully) will be hoping for the Court to rule against the democratically elected branches.
No one is more aware than me of how out of control the judiciary has been, particularly since the age of FDR. What Gingrich and other populist-conservatives fail to appreciate is that the judiciary’s wholesale assault against the Constitution is but a symptom of what plagues this Nation. After all, how did we wind up with a judiciary willing to disregard the Constitution? They didn’t just appear out of magic. Years of progressive education instilled these judges with an attitude that the Constitution is a “living, breathing” document that ought to bend to the whims of the age. More importantly, it was democratically elected leaders like FDR who put these men and women on the courts.
Furthermore, it is odd to suggest that one of the ways to stop the politicization of the judiciary is to further politicize the judiciary. Will judges act as independent arbiters of the Constitution if they know they are going to be hauled before the legislature for making the wrong call?
Long story short, I don’t think Gingrich is entirely wrong to highlight the problems of the judiciary. It absolutely must be a theme of this and any federal campaign. But Gingrich is missing the forest for the trees in singling out the judiciary when it’s an entire political philosophy – and, for that matter, political party – that is the problem.
Another thing that strikes me about this statement is how unrealistic it is. Even if Gingrich becomes president and has resounding Republican majorities in both Houses there is virtually no chance that anything like this will happen. This is mere bombast. Now, it is perhaps an exercise in rhetorical exaggeration used to highlight an important issue. But ultimately this reveals a problem that goes beyond Newt, and it is the absurdity of our presidential campaign system. Each candidate feels compelled to offer pie in the sky proposals in an effort to appeal to some constituency. Even more troubling is that the underlying attitude is that the president is some kind of emperor as opposed to the chief executive of a constitutional republic. Even though this particular proposal is likely going nowhere, it is a sad fact that the presidency has become a hyped up institution that has grown well beyond the powers outlined in the Constitution. So the ultimate irony is that while Newt is proposing a radical plan under the guise of restoring balance to the Constitution, he is only furthering the imbalance of the Constitution and the respective powers of each branch of government. And while the Star Wars prequels may have been otherwise useless, at least they taught us a valuable lesson about trying to “restore balance” to anything.
Oh look, Glenn Beck said something outlandish to gain attention for himself.
“If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama… ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me. If you’re against him but you’re for this guy [Gingrich], it must be about race. I mean, what else is it? It’s the policies that matter.”
Glenn Beck is like a lot of not very smart people who dabble in philosophy and history. He’s read a couple of Ronald Pestritto books and now he reduces everything to the same paradigm. Everyone who deviates slightly from Beck’s brand of conservatism is just a re-incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt.
Now is Beck completely off about Newt? No, as I’ve said before, Newt is a conservative technocrat, which is really no kind of conservative at all. But to state categorically that there is NO difference whatsoever between Obama and Newt, and to indicate that any conservative who supports the latter over the former is a racist, means that you should not be taken seriously.
And that leads me to a couple of general comments about conservative critics of Newt Gingrich. First, stop acting like the man is a closet Bolshevik. Many of you have made fine points about Gingrich’s less than conservative instincts. But not to content to make subtle points, you choose the headline grabbing THIS GOES TO 11 hyperbole that only weakens your argument. Second, if Newt is so terrible please indicate which of the other candidates you prefer. I can understand the establishment pundits looking to engage in intellectual jujitsu in order to weaken Gingrich in favor of Mittens, but what is the aim of conservative pundits? If you actively support Perry or Santorum or even Bachmann, fine. All of the above are certainly more conservative than Newt, and in the case of the guys named Rick are also much better candidates. But then you have to make the case for those candidates and not simply the case against Newt. Because if you’re not crazy about those candidates either, then you simply come off as a purist crank who won’t be content until the re-animated corpse of Ronald Reagan emerges as the front-runner.
We need to rewind a little bit before we address the madness engulfing the presidential primary season. During the runup to the 2010 midterm elections and in its immediate followup there has been some internal GOP strife between purists who want to select only the most ideologically pure candidates and those of a squishier stripe whose primary concern is electability. This has been an ongoing warfare, and has continued on into the GOP presidential primary.
So now Newt Gingrich is atop of the polls. A mere few months ago Newt had been written off as a candidate, especially by the purists. Gingrich reviled the base right at the start of his campaign by deriding Paul Ryan’s budget reform plan as right-wing social engineering. This was just the latest in the string of rhetorical and other slights against the right. He had endorsed Dede Scozafava, sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi for that silly global warming PSA, and had otherwise served as a negative symbol of the establishment. But a few great debate performances – and I emphasize the word performance here – plus the flameout of various other non-Romney candidates managed to put Newt at the top of the polls.
So now the same establishment voices that urged moderation are attacking Gingrich in full voice. Pundits like Charles Krauthammer and others are questioning Gingrich’s bona fides. George Will went so far as to suggest that Newt is some kind of Marxist, and Mark Krikorian implied that Newt’s heart belonged to the French Revolution. This, in turn, has angered the conservative firebrands, who perceive that the establishment is attacking the new conservative hero. In other words, for questioning Gingrich’s conservatives purity these writers are basically being written off by purists who think that these commentators are manifesting a clear lack of purity. The anti-purists, meanwhile, are writing off a candidate because of his, umm, lack of purity. So the anti-purists are clearly RINOs because they think someone who the purists themselves thought was insufficiently pure not that long ago is not in fact pure. On the other hand the purists are upset that the non-purists are questioning the bona fides of a previously heretofore believed to be impure candidate, and in doing so are demonstrating that they are tools of the impure establishment.
I am convinced that if National Review wanted to derail the Gingrich campaign all it has to is endorse Gingrich. As I have written before there seems to be a contingent of the GOP electorate that is motivated by spite, and they will flock to any candidate that the establishment criticizes.
It’s an astoundingly insane situation. Frankly, I think that Gingrich is neither a Marxists-Leninist, nor is he the modern embodiment of Ronald Reagan. Gingrich is a conservative technocrat. He thinks that we can achieve conservative outcomes through just enough social and government tinkering. He’s not quite a big government conservative, but I think Jonah Goldberg has a pretty good feel for Gingrich’s political instincts.
Gingrich probably agrees with the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan more than any other leading conservative. “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” Moynihan observed. “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” A constant theme of Gingrich’s career is a desire to use government to fix the culture. Indeed, there’s no Republican in the field with a more robust faith in the power of government.
So in this crazy, upside down primary season the segment of the Republican party that agrees with Gingrich is trying to eliminate him from the race, and the segment that is turned off by this sentimentality is outraged that anyone could question Gingrich.
Personally, I am ambivalent about Newt. He’s a better candidate than most, and think that he’d ultimately make an adequate president. And while I don’t that it is unfair to dig deeper into a candidate’s philosophy and question his fitness for office, some of the assaults on Gingrich are a little absurd. When John Sununu is on the attack against a candidate and questioning his conservative record, well, let’s just say Sununu is probably not the best judge of conservative character.
But to me the race has come down to two men named Rick. Which one will I ultimately vote for? If it were purely about ideology it would be Santorum, but other factors – including executive experience – ultimately matter as well and weigh in Perry’s favor. I’d be perfectly content with either candidate. Neither is looking particularly strong in the polls right now, but considering all that has taken place over the past few months, we should expect either to be the party’s nominee.
In all seriousness, neither is as much of a longshot as they appear right now. You see, there’s this election that takes place in Iowa. Despite the fact that Iowa is a rather small state and has a method of voting that is one of the dumbest and most confusing methods of selecting a candidate known to man, the Iowa caucus is crucial. And so, this completely outmoded and overrated caucus may very well cause a darkhorse candidate to jump to the front of the line. Both Santorum and Perry appeal to the socially conservative element in the state, and victory is obtainable in a state where the election hinges on non-traditional forms of electioneering. I’m not suggesting that Perry or Santorum will in fact win, but if either does – especially in the case of Perry – then it will fundamentally alter the narrative of the campaign.
Of course, if either takes (or in Perry’s case, reclaims) the lead, then expect the establishment to get the knives out. But then at least the battle lines will make sense.