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.
Newt Gingrich’s lesbian half-sister, Candace Gingrich-Jones, has taken advantage of her half-brother’s moment at the top of the polls in order to get an appearance on a pseudo news program. In the most anticipated public political pronouncement by a relative of a presidential candidate since Meghan McCain like totally said something like totally profound, she indicated that her brother’s opposition to gay marriage means that she will be voting for Barack Obama. This will undoubtedly send shockwaves through our fair polity and could possibly sway hundreds if not thousands to shrug their shoulders in complete apathy.
This wouldn’t even be worthy of comment if it did not perfectly symbolize the complete stupidity of the American left. Newt’s sister won’t vote for him because he’s opposed to gay marriage, so instead she’s going to vote for a guy who is also opposed to gay marriage.
Oh, forgot about that, huh? Yeah, you see Barack Obama is still on record as opposing gay marriage. Yet that hasn’t stopped the left from basically talking out of both sides of their mouth. You see, Obama’s official position on gay marriage is trotted out whenever they want to persuade those bitter clingers that he’s not so radical after all. Then, after they issue their press releases and mouth their talking points, they all just wink at each other and nod in some kind of secret, knowing way that he’s not really anti-gay marriage. In his heart of hearts dear old Barack is with them after all. He just has to tell those rubes out there in the hinterland that he is on their side. Well, they’re just a bunch of stupid homophobes, so it’s totally okay to lie to them in order to serve the greater good.
Basically either the left is lying to us about Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage, or they’re just lying to themselves. If it’s the latter, they’re not alone in this. After all, in a world of Doug Kmiec and the Catholic left, Obama sycophants will believe just about anything about their guy in order to justify supporting him. Cults of personality are such amazing things to behold.
Newt Gingrich was interviewed by Sean Hannity a few days ago where the topic of conversation were his thoughts on his presidential run. During the course of the conversation the topic of faith came along in which Speaker Gingrich spoke about receiving the Eucharist.
Look for his comments on the Eucharist at the 00:52 exactly.
Newt Gingrich may not be my first choice this primary season, but I have a sinking feeling that left-wingers are going to help me get over whatever reservations I may have. Newt is getting hammered for comments he made yesterday:
“Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” the former House speaker said at a campaign event at the Nationwide Insurance offices. “So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.”
Gingrich lately has been unspooling an urban policy, beginning with his comments at Harvard University last month when he discussed child labor laws. “It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods,” Gingrich said then, “entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.”
Children in poor neighborhoods, he said, should be allowed to serve as janitors in their schools to earn money and develop a connection to the school.
Yes, what an absolutely crazy notion – allowing kids to develop a work ethic early in life. I mean it’s not like we’ve trained an entire generation of people to just simply expect handouts:
“Somebody needs to be held accountable, and they need to pay.”
But yes, let’s attack Newt Gingrich for suggesting that young people develop work skills at an early age.
I also wonder how many socially “moderate,” economically “conservative” types will see this video and grasp that inconsistency. Maybe Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint have a point after all.
Most of you have an immediate response to the question posed in the title of this post, but please indulge me for a moment.
In this seriously flawed Republican presidential primary field is a candidate who is a Roman Catholic. He is a man who clearly lives his faith. He has no skeletons in his closet (that we know of, naturally). He is the father of seven children, and has demonstrated a devotion to the pro-life cause in a manner that is second to none. He is unapologetically conservative, and is willing to take stands that go against the grain.
In other words, we have a candidate who it would seem should be drawing a large chunk of the conservative and Catholic vote. Yet he regularly polls somewhere in the 1-2 percent range. Considering the number of Catholics in the country and within the Republican party, this suggests he can’t even win the support of even a fraction of the most conservative Catholics. Heck, even the conservative and Catholic author of this post has not really fully supported Senator Santorum. I oscillate between the two Ricks, but have generally leaned towards Governor Perry. So what gives? Continue reading
Just listened to parts of the Newt Gingrich tonight by Sean Hannity while I was working and Speaker Gingrich said in the most Catholic language imaginable how receiving the Eucharist brings him peace and comfort.
That was an incredible line. As soon as I can find it on YouTube, I’ll post it, but I may begin budging towards Gingrich based simply on his faith!
Rachel Masden has a column up lamenting how Rick Perry’s gaffe in last week’s debate demonstrates our obsessiveness with image over subtance:
As in real life, politicians, voters and the media all get caught up with entertaining but petty nonsense. Case in point: Rick Perry stuck his cowboy boot in his mouth during a recent debate performance, unable to recall one of the three agencies of government he’d euthanize if he were to become president. Turns out it was the Department of Energy — which for a Texas governor to forget about would be a bit like the prime minister of Great Britain forgetting about Buckingham Palace. OK, funny — but really, so what?
For at least 24 hours, the mishap represented arguably the single most globally widespread American news item. I even saw it broadcast and translated on French television in Paris. This is the media and political culture of today — all about stagecraft, showmanship and ratings.
As a political strategist, let me tell you a little secret: Debates are easy to fake. All you need to succeed is a good policy-prep team, a competent spin doctor to distill that policy material down to snappy bite-sized talking points, and the memory and delivery capabilities of a C-list Hollywood actor. Perry just didn’t remember his lines. That’s all.
But what about the other guys who lucked out and did remember all their lines this time? Isn’t it the job of media moderators to recognize boilerplate spin and slice through it on the fly? There’s one reliable way to do this, but it’s rarely seen: In response to a candidate’s prepared take, a media moderator need ask only one question: “What precise action in your background or experience illustrates this principle?” In other words, when a candidate says that he would do something, what has he previously done in his career to demonstrate that value through tangible action? Do you know who any of these candidates really is beyond what he or she claims to be? If not, then thank the style-over-substance media.
The column is timely because I’ve been having some second thoughts about the primary process. Continue reading
Newt Gingrich is the fastest GOP presidential candidate political suicide since Mitt Romney’s old man George Romney cratered in the Republican Presidential primaries in 1968 after claiming that he had been “brainwashed” into supporting the Vietnam War. Gingrich has received near universal conservative condemnation for attacking Paul Ryan’s budget plan on Sunday on “Meet The Press” on NBC and seeming to endorse a form of ObamaCare. How ironic that Gingrich, who has always prided himself on his futuristic innovative thinking, was done in by attempting to appease non-conservatives on a low rated show of the increasingly irrelevant lamestream press. The new media, talk radio, blogs and conservative outlets on the net, ran with it, Gingrich is now political toast and he simply can’t believe what has happened to him in such a short time span.
In response to this, Gingrich released this incredibly delusional statement:
The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces. Continue reading
MM is leading a campaign to protest a book-signing of Newt Gingrich’s latest book to be held at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. The book is “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Regime” and Amazon provides a description.
For once, I agree with MM: the book-signing is a bad idea. I’m a very big believer of separation of church from state, and I don’t like the appearance that the Church is being co-opted here. The book isn’t religious; it’s political. Even if I would agree with what he says in the book, I’d rather it not be promoted by being offered at a Catholic bookstore, much less be publicized through a book-signing.
Unfortunately, this is not the grounds that is offered to oppose it. Instead, we find references to Newt’s “hyper-partisan” nastiness, his racism, and his serial adultery. I don’t wish to get into an argument about the virtues and vices of Newt’s career or his potential presidential candidacy (in part b/c being of the generation I am, I have little knowledge of what Newt did). However, I do find it useful for thinking about how the Church interacts with politics, in part b/c it’s not the only example in the last week. Tony Blair wrote a column published on the front page of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in anticipation of the Pope’s visit to the UK. There are a number of problems with Blair’s political career from the Church’s view, including his support for legalized abortion, gay marriage and the invasion of Iraq. While it doesn’t appear that Blair has political aspirations any longer, it brings up the question of how much past political failings ought to deter Church officials from granting a stage to politicians, particularly repentant ones?
Nine Days That Changed the World is a film produced by Citizens United, Newt Gingrich’s, former Republican Speaker of the House and Catholic convert, group. That Gingrich produced it will probably reduce the number of people who will see the film, due to the fact that Gingrich is subject to legitimate criticism for his past infidelities to his first two wives, and because he is a devil figure for the Left. That is a shame because this film is a thoughtful look at one of the pivotal events in the last century: the unraveling of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, which began in Poland and was directly sparked by the visit of John Paul II in 1979 who inspired Lech Walesa and other Poles to found Solidarity and give voice to the Polish cry for freedom that ultimately prevailed.
In his address to the civil authorities in Poland on June 2, 1979, the Pope touched upon the never ending desire of the Poles for their independence:
We Poles feel in a particularly deep way the fact that the raison d’être of the State is the sovereignty of society, of the nation, of the motherland. We have learned this during the whole course of our history, and especially through the hard trials of recent centuries. We can never forget that terrible historical lesson—the loss of the independence of Poland from the end of the eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. This painful and essentially negative experience has become as it were a new forge of Polish patriotism. For us, the word “motherland” has a meaning, both for the mind and for the heart, such as the other nations of Europe and the world appear not to know, especially those nations that have not experienced, as ours has, historical wrongs, injustices and menaces. And thus the last World War and the Occupation, which Poland experienced, were still for our generation such a great shock thirty-five years ago when this war finished on all fronts. At this moment there began the new period of the history of our motherland. We cannot however forget everything that influenced the experiences of the war and of the Occupation. We cannot forget the sacrifice of the lives of so many men and women of Poland. Neither can we forget the heroism of the Polish soldier who fought on all fronts of the world “for our freedom and for yours”.
The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism Because Nonsensical Believers & Non Believers Are Unwittingly Showing Many the Way
Throughout the last few years and specifically the last decade or so, the voluminous number of kooky quotes and statements coming from religious believers (heterodox Catholics included) and non believers alike is mind boggling. It can’t but help push the reasonable minded into the Catholic Church. Most casual observers are familiar with the number of high profile converts and reverts to the Catholic Church in the last 25 years or so. They range from theological luminaries like Dr Scott Hahn and Dr Francis Beckwith to political figures like Deal Hudson, Laura Ingraham and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Many like them have come to the Church after years of study and reason, but many also have come to the Church after years of seeing their particular religious denomination become unrecognizable.
The latest world calamity has given us two examples of sheer kookery coming from a religious leader and a secular voice. After the horrific earthquake that left the western world’s most impoverished nation in tatters, the Reverend Pat Robertson chimed in with a quote that was not only tragically insensitive but historically inaccurate. The onetime presidential candidate (who actually came in second in the 1988 GOP Iowa Caucus) and a leading voice of the Evangelical world blamed the earthquake on Voodoo, a cult that sadly far too many people practice in Haiti. Robertson voiced his opinion on his popular 700 Club television program. Robertson repeated the fundamentalist canard that in the early 1800s the leaders of a slave revolt fighting against French colonial forces forged a pact with the Satan to thrown off the chains of their oppressors.
Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report had an interesting exchange with recent Catholic convert Newt Gingrich. The former House speaker who converted last March was on his way to Europe working on a documentary* on Pope John Paul II’s 1979 trip to Poland where Mr. Gilgoff asked if “he expected this trip to be different from previous visits”:
I don’t know that it’s much different. That’s part of what led to my conversion is the first time we [he and Callista**] went to St. Peter’s together. It’s St. Peter’s. I mean, you stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached. You think to yourself, two thousand years ago the apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced. And there it is. The last time we were there we were allowed to walk in the papal gardens and you get this sense that is almost mystical.