November 30th, 2011

Why Newt Gingrich may just wind up the Republican nominee

(#1) He’s likely to be the last man standing except for Romney—and Republican voters just don’t like Romney.

But they don’t like Gingrich either; so why might he win? That brings us to:

(#2) He’s not afraid to confront Obama.

In fact, that’s been Newt’s emphasis from the start of the campaign, in most of the debates. Even now, when the focus is on the fight among the Republicans, Gingrich is taking it to Obama.

One of the many reasons so many Republicans are still angry at John McCain for the campaign he ran in 2008 was his almost palpable fear of criticizing Obama. Gingrich will have no such problem, and it’s because Gingrich is unlikable rather than despite that fact.

(#3) His skeletons have been out of the closet and rattling around for so long that they’ve almost turned to dust.

I haven’t a clue whether Gingrich can actually pick up enough moderates to win the 2012 election. But right now he seems to be on track to get the chance to find out.

54 Responses to “Why Newt Gingrich may just wind up the Republican nominee”

  1. gcotharn Says:

    I agree with the theory that a candidate wins by creating excitement. Undecided voters (i.e. uninformed voters) are influenced, by their excited friends, to vote for the candidate who has created the excitement.

    Amongst Repub voters: Newt creates more excitement.

  2. n.n Says:

    The “moderates” will follow the prevailing winds as is their custom. In this cycle the winds are generated by persistent and even progressive economic uncertainty. Their votes will follow the prevailing perception of causal actors.

  3. expat Says:

    Hot Air linked today to a Pew poll showing that the Tea Party is losing favor among voters. It could be that people are getting tired of the flavor of the month game and want some indication that favored candidates are being vetted. I hope those who are now fully behind Newt have thought through their choice and will be able to defend it when the anti-Newt ads start running. I’m not sure the Repubs can take another flipflop and still appeal to undecided voters.

  4. expat Says:

    Neo, here’s an OT for you. Commenters offer their favorite Churchill quotes:

  5. Mike Mc. Says:

    That is the number one feature needed right now – confronting Obama to his face and fearlessly. newt will tear him a new one.

    Policy and everything else are second to that. As long as newt is to the right of center, the policy will be fine. And Newt is much much more right than just right of center. he is a real American, first and foremost. Obama is not at all, and Romney….eh, I guess so.

    Romney is more likely to lose than win. If he is the nominee, we are the mercy of outside events. It would be 50/50.

    Newt will take the offensive and not stop until he takes Richmond.

    Not only that, he is the one we want in office when things really get bad in a few years. When the world ,melts down, or when there is no more down the road for all the hard decisions we’ve kicked down the road, we’ll need Newt and his mind and not Romney’s hair or Obama’s skin color.

    When it gets serious, we need real people, not fakes. Newt is real.

    Palin would have been the best, but Newt will do.

  6. Mr. Frank Says:

    I’m a bit surprised that few people note that Newt is like Obama in that he has no executive or business experience. He does give a good speech, however.

  7. vanderleun Says:

    Any and all of these candidates, Newt, Romney, or A.N. Other, would get my vote but they all make me want to set my hair on fire and run from the room screaming, “I GOT THE FEAR!”

  8. Trimegistus Says:

    The comparison between Newt and Winston Churchill is an apt one. Both were written off but came back to achieve real greatness in their nation’s darkest hour. Most of Gingrich’s “negatives” are really virtues: he’s combative (thank God), he’s “eccentric” (i.e. doesn’t follow the conventional wisdom which led us to this abyss), and he’s outspoken.

    The Democrat attack machine has already thrown everything at him once; he can take it.

  9. kaba Says:

    I watched C-SPAN a lot during the late eighties and early nineties. Most Republicans in the House had seemingly accepted their positions as a permanent minority. They seemed content with whatever small crumbs the Democratic leadership threw their way on the edge of issues.

    Not Newt. He was always combative. He would constantly challenge the Democrats concerning House rules and procedures. He would deliver some devastating speeches from the House well. Had it not been for Newt we would probably have been enjoying the benefits of Hillary Care for the last seventeen years.

    Would he be the best Republican candidate for president in 2012? I don’t know. But I will always respect him for his actions then.

  10. Baklava Says:

    I agree with you Neo on Newt.

    My huge con on Newt is knowing the CA and US public way of voting is based on a popularity contest almost with the issue of who is taller, has better hair, younger, vibrant, sexy etc.

    With US magazine, People magazine, Oprah, Entertainment tonight, ABCCBSNBCCNN, all on board for the not the old guy we will see that lead that Newt has ground down to a loss.

    We almost have to collectively pick ourselves up and rally around the Cain, or Romney or Perry or Bachman based on coolness and looks first and then who has the ability to beat Obama in debate second.

    I can’t believe I just typed this.

  11. Baklava Says:

    Mr. Frank,

    Newt has actually owned a business for the last 4 years that employs about 30 employees.

    That’s where he gets in trouble because contracts include contracts with Fannie and Freddie.

    However the money did not go to Newt. It went to his enterprise which provided services.

    Obama hadn’t run a hot dog stand. Newt admits when doing the Lincoln Douglas debate with Cain that he hadn’t been in business for himself until just recently and he views legislation while he was in Congress differently now having run a business.

  12. M J R Says:

    expat Says:
    November 30th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Neo, here’s an OT for you. Commenters offer their favorite Churchill quotes:

    Usually attributed to Churchill, but possibly open to dispute . . .

    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”

    . . . but it’s my favorite Churchillism nonetheless.

  13. Curtis Says:

    What we have to fear from Newt is his pride. Pride goeth before a fall. He gets too cocky and something stupid happens. Hopefully, the incident won’t reduce his candidacy to ashes, but I expect it. Sooner or later.

  14. expat Says:

    I just got this at NRO. Romney and Gingritch may be frontrunners, but Ron Paul is taking a big bite out of Newt’s heel. I wonder whether he has an anti-Romney one in the works.

  15. Parker Says:


    Viewed the ad and thought it was pretty slick. RP is running a much better campaign this time around. With Cain fading away RP is now the sole remaining anti-Romney simply because Perry and Santorum lack traction. Here in Iowa there are far more Ron Paul yard signs than there are signs for all others in the GOP field combined.

  16. physicsguy Says:

    I said it previously: the moderates in my family don’t like Obama. However, they despise Newt due to his marital difficulties, and what they perceive as a lack of honesty. They said they will vote for Obama rather than Newt. The passion with which they reacted against Newt even when I tried to point out how much worse off the country would be with four more years of BHO was astounding.

    I like Newt much more than Romney, but their reaction still gives me pause. You lose the moderates, you lose the election. And this one is going to literally change the country for better or worse.

  17. kolnai Says:

    My favorite Churchillism, which I think I’ve typed here before:

    Someone: “Winston, in a hundred years women will rule the world.”

    Churchill: “Still?”

  18. Artfldgr Says:

    They dont want to win…

    Do you want to be holding the hot potato, or be standing when the music stops?

    The easiest way for them to throw things is to do the kind of selections they are making. ie, they are not representing the side they are representing, and probably never were in our lifetimes. with the news always confused as to what the facts are and lies and outright fabrications being game, there is no reason for them to be what they present to be. few would notice.

    here, a perfect example

    “I know you hear a lot of folks on cable TV claiming that I am this ‘big tax and spend liberal.’ Next time you hear that, you just remind the people who are saying it that since I’ve taken office, I’ve cut your taxes. Your taxes — your taxes today, the average middle class family, your taxes today are lower than when I took office. Just remember that. We have cut taxes for small businesses, not once, not twice, but 17 times. The average family’s tax burden is among the lowest it’s been in the last 60 years. So the problem is not that we’ve been raising taxes. We’ve been trying to give families a break during these tough times,” Obama

    They know most of the electorate is no longer tied to reality and the facts and customs and principals that moored us to a point, and the history that places us someplace in a line that opens before us and should not fed back on itself into an endless (feudal) loop…

    without the public knowing fact from fictions, the game is one of who can craft the best idea which gets the fish to swim to them for the minutes it takes to make the choice. after they get what they want from that moment, does it matter if the fish find out the truth?

    without holding them to merit and validity, and willing to remove the ones that dont follow that, or those that use other affirmation based methods instead of merit and validity, then what you get are unbound ignorant masses that remain free until they throw a tantrum, or for a while if not.

    the problem with affirmative ideas is that they are based on assessments of appearances. when you measure X of this, and Y of that and you want some other ration of aesthetic as a social goal, your really only wishing to change appearances, not the substance of things

    once we allowed the image of something and the appearance of something, and started to define some appearances as needing action….

    we no longer could pay attention to merit or validity, as those things violate appearances.

    for appearance sake, we first made normal abnormal, normalized abnormal, then told ourselves that we were superior to all the others in the past who didn’t think of all these great ideas to remodel our lives appearance.

    and given that the foppish who act like fashion designers trying to decide what belief is in, and what belief is not in, and how every little place you travel too has to be diverse (meaning homogeneous with everything else, as in GRAY)

    like some great old court full of hookers and perverts and powerful bored people who have nothing better to do than to try to improve others lives so they dont have to look at their own.

    which is why its all about appearances, they would not be a part of the pastiche, they only would not have to look upon it in all its beauty, glory, and infinite interest and joy, and chaos.

    to change the substance would be to love it. and to love it is to accept it. and to accept it is to understand it. and to understand it, is to be a part of it. and if you were a part of it you would not care how it looked but how it was.

    to change the appearance is to hate it. to want it to be something other than what it is. you dont accept it, you want no part of it, you cant even find a way to be a part as it exists for itself not for you. its too ugly to hug, so it wont hug you back.

  19. Rose Says:

    There’s things to like about Ron Paul – he’s sincere, intelligent, etc – but his stance on defense is so unrealistic, so head-in-the-sand, that I cannot support him. I’ll vote for him over Obama, if need be, but, I will worry.

    Being President is not a popularity contest – you have to be tough, not necessarily liked. You have to be able to lie when necessary. You have to be not only diplomatic, but able to pull a con if necessary when dealing with foreign leaders, you cannot be a pushover.

    It’ll help knowing how everything works. Congress, Senate and party bosses will not be able to push Newt around.

    In a funny way – his negatives are his strengths – and his COMMAND – of the room, of the debates, of the process – win me over to his side.

    Obama has shown that a President can just run roughshod over everyone and everything, and no one will stop him, so Newt will not be hamstrung like Bush was. There will be no more need for appeasement. The Dems are toast.

  20. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Well, Ron Paul has a lot of leather-lunged supporters, as you can hear when they cheer him at any televised debate, and I understand that they are also expert at gaming polls to make it seem like Ron Paul has a lot more support than he actually has.

    However, Paul—like Cain, is a one trick pony; Cain has his 9-9-9 plan, for Ron Paul it’s all about the Federal Reserve and our money supply.

    Paul’s delivery is that of a demented leprechaun, but when you get him on any topic other than the Federal Reserve and our money supply, what you get is the same demented delivery of a stump speech, delivered from the little platform on the caboose of the Crazy Train.

    Paul’s uninformed remedy for all other, non-monetary problems can be summed up thusly; don’t get involved anywhere in the rest of the world—it ain’t our problem and, besides, “why can’t we all just get along,” we should “mind our own business”; bring all our troops home, fort up, and let the rest of the word—which ain’t worth much anyways—go to Hell in whatever way they choose.

    In short, a short-sighted, retrograde, and suicidal view and policy in an age and world in which—like it or not—everyone in the globe is pretty much tied together, is “inter-connected,” and actions and decisions in countries far away from us can have profound effects upon us.

    Thus, it would be very wise for us to gather and study as much intelligence as we can about each and every country in the world, about developments outside our borders that might be threats to us emanating from these countries, and to have the capability and the will to pre-empt and neutralize such threats.

    In short, unlike in past centuries, we no longer have the luxury today of being able to choose not to be “engaged” with the rest of the world, and hiding our heads under the covers, putting our fingers in our ears, and shouting La-La-La, and hoping that the rest of the world—and all these problems and threats–will just go away is a strategy for disaster.

  21. Curtis Says:

    Mr. McMurphy is here.

  22. Curtis Says:

    Consider this physicsguy:

  23. holmes Says:

    It’s Romney. Conservatives are going through the musical chairs until the music stops and they realize they have to sit on something real or lose out altogether. I am a conservative-libertarian type. I would love for Gingrich to govern. But I don’t think he can win, or it will be too close for comfort anyway. I think Romney can win pretty easily as a safe alternative to Obama. The important races are the senate and house races anyway; that determines the ideological bend to governance. Romney will just be a stamp on domestic policy and say the safe things.

  24. Curtis Says:

    I feel ya holmes.

    Maybe it would be the best thing for Obama to win in 2012 given we won the Senate and House and many other local positions.


    Well, it might prevent civil war since the progressives have at least one voice. But one the other hand, consider the coming collapse and who should get the credit: Oh yeah!

    And consider that Obama, inactive now, would be completely gone given a Republican controlled H & S.

    Un huh. Taint so bad, no ways, if you looks at it always.

  25. rickl Says:

    Well, there’s also Bill Still, who’s running for the Libertarian Party nomination. I’ve seen a few of his videos at the Market Ticker, and I’m pretty impressed.

    I’ve about lost all hope for the Republican Party. They seem to have completely thrown in the towel for statism. They’re barely even paying lip service to the concept of limited constitutional government anymore. They’re hardly even going through the motions.

  26. rickl Says:

    I think Romney will lose to Obama if he is the nominee.

  27. Parker Says:


    I vote libertarian at each opportunity where it looks like my single vote is meaningless to prevent a dem from defeating a repub. Bill Still understands what is at stake, unfortunately he is not on the radar as far as the ‘undecideds’ are concerned, and it is those voters who will determine the outcome.

    I agree Romney can not defeat BHO.

  28. Curtis Says:

    It’s not exactly fair to say Romney cannot defeat BHO. Romney is not McCain. Romney has done a little bit (irony) of Obama attacking, which is to say, he has done alot.

    And he is a Mormon and I can tell you that Mormons are conservative. Half of Idaho are my second cousins. Thank God I escaped, but damn, Romney is a conservative. I think once in office his conservative chops would get even bigger, bigger, bigger, hold it . . . wait, we won’t accept the under sweaters. Biyotch!

    Basically, Romney learned how to morph due to his Mormonism but his essential nature is unchanged. Now, if you think a Mormon is a weirdo (and they pretty much aren’t. They are now a result of Western Civ gotcha.) then don’t vote Romney.

    But the big thing is “who will defeat Obama?” How about a turd? That would be allright wouldn’t it. I would rather trust a turd than Obama.

  29. Curtis Says:

    I have a dream. A dream that someday my children will be judged by the content of their character and not be the color of their skin, because white skin is not a reason to hate somebody.

    I have a dream. A dream that someday all people will value character and find in work and achievement the happiness that comes from reflection and not ideology. Happiness is a result; not a right.

    I have a dream. It was interrupted. But the Garden remains.

  30. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    I watched a one hour Hannity interview of Gingrich tonight. I was impressed. He gives good answers. He seems somewhat less combative and more wise than in his days as Speaker. He would certainly be impressive in debates with Obama. Dennis Milller has said he thinks they ought to put a Gingrich/Obama debate on pay per view with proceeds to go to pay down the debt. It might be that entertaining.

    He does have his detractors among conservatives. For the downside of Newt read this post at American Thinker:

    Interestingly, even the author, Stuart Schwartz, concludes that Newt, with all his failings, would be better than Obama.

    I still watching and pondering, though leaning toward Newt and Mitt.

  31. Doom Says:

    I may begrudgingly agree with you. And, after some thinking, depending on any other changes, I may be able to vote for Newt. I won’t swear to it, but if it is Romney, Obama, or Newt… Newt is it. And, despite his problems, Newt is better than most of the others. The thing is to try and keep him on a very short leash, shorter than the last President Bush for sure.

    Ugh. But I do hate that. It won’t work out great but it might do.

  32. expat Says:

    Just for the record: I didn’t link to the Ron Paul ad because I support him. I just wanted to call attention to his ability to make trouble for the front runners and to show that Newt also has his problems. Since any candidate has problems, it is far better to acknowledge them before we pull the lever. I don’t like the runs for the flavor of the month because when we expect too much from a candidate we are sure to be disappointed down the road. It could be that we will withdraw our support for him just when he needs it most, and not just during the campaign. Reagan wasn’t successful because he fulfilled our every wish. He was successful because he identified the most important issues and tackled them.

  33. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I like listening to Gingrich. He gets to the issue instead of arguing tactics–which is one thing he said should be done in a debate–and thus strategy.
    Tactis without strategy are useless, although you need both.
    Only problem is that Gingrich is so plausible that I get suspicious.
    And that’s paranoid.

  34. jms Says:

    Aside from her charisma, I think that the single thing that excites people the most about Sarah Palin is that she is absolutely fearless about taking the fight to Obama and confronting him. If Gingrich can do that successfully, he will pick up a lot of that support on that basis alone.

  35. kolnai Says:

    Something occurred to me – a small detail – when I watched Romney in that interview with Brett Baier, and subsequently read this piece by Michael Barone:

    Watch him in the interview as he rattles off his positions. He has this tendency to enumerate and then, when he “closes” with his final point, gently inflect his voice and drop a cheesy smile.

    “I want to do x, do y, and [smile, gentle inflection] put Americans back to work.”

    It is exactly what one’s image of a smarmy salesman is – and as Barone notes, not just any smarmy salesman, but one from the fifties.

    It’s painful to watch. I realize it’s probably an ingrained habit with him by now – business is salesmanship in many ways, and politics too – but, geez louise, he could do wonders for himself by just working on cutting that out. Automatically he would seem at least 1/3 less robotic.

    I’m just spitballin’ here, but these little details matter. Not saying it would automatically change anyone’s mind about him, but the subconscious effect of his cumulative “fifties salesmanisms” probably do a number on how he’s perceived.

    Neo has noted that a lot of the implacable hostility to Romney – to which I plead guilty – is unrelated to policy. I think I still wouldn’t like him if I was judging him solely on policy, but I definitely wouldn’t dislike him as intensely as I do without these little salesmanisms I’m calling attention to. It’s not like I haven’t been aware of them in a general way; but this was the first time I was able to pinpoint one specific thing he does that makes my skin crawl.

    Another problem is the flip-side of this: whenever he gets lured out of the salesmanisms he is invariably prickly and – his least attractive habit – sarcastic (“I see the Democratic talking points are getting through, even at Fox…”). When Newt goes rogue rhetorically he conveys passion and anger, or else a kind of amused annoyance. Not saying that’s necessarily a great quality either, but in the basic rank-order of expressions of hostility, honest anger is usually ranked higher than sarcasm.

    One more (related) observation from the interview: Take a good look at his demeanor and expression when he’s being challenged with a tough question. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but he manages to give the salesman’s obligatory smile and wide-eyes (conveying interest and attentiveness) while one immediately intuits that his brain is saying, “You little weasel, how dare you!” He looks quite uncomfortable, and again that palpable discomfort + the smarmy smile = unintentionally conveyed sarcasm.

    I guess what I’m saying is that heuristics matter, and the Baier interview did Romney harm not so much because it revealed his thin skin (which was already evident from the debates), but because it did a “close up,” as it were, on his tendency to resort to salesmanisms at the crescendos of his arguments, and otherwise to unleash sarcasm when pressured. Just as wild animals lash out when cornered, Romney’s version of that survival instinct seems to be to reach for the misanthrope’s version of wit. The dialectic of salesmanism and sarcasm is sublated in his thin skin – the salesmanisms working as shields, the sarcasm working as a counterstrike when blood is drawn.

    The question is: we’ve seen the phony (salesman) and the base (sarcasm) in his presentation – what else is there? Is there some quality he has that makes him come off better that I’m missing?

    Maybe it won’t matter in the general, but it’s mattering right now in the primary.

    I say this as someone who has no intention of voting for him in the primaries, but who wants him to be as good as possible in the general if he wins. Someone needs to talk to him, because the judgmental and evaluative heuristics he’s inadvertently feeding with his salesmanisms are, as far as I can tell, uniformly of a negative sort.

  36. expat Says:

    Wow! Read this on Newt:

  37. Amy Says:

    Speaking of moderates, today in New Hampshire my local paper reports on a Huntsman visit and the accompanying photo features a woman high-fiving the candidate. I thought I recognized her name. She is the woman who made Hillary cry but ended up voting for Obama.

    I have NH independent and Dem friends who consider Huntsman the one Republican they could vote for. (“He’s the least insane.”) He seems to have a reputation with them as rational and moderate, though his Utah record is actually quite conservative.

    I find Huntsman’s style a bit smirky, slef-satisfied and awkward, not super presidential, but I am intrigued by his widespread acceptance among many non-right-wingers. I think many of the same NH people who voted for Obama because they liked his “image” and didn’t pay much attention to his record and life experience could end up voting for a stealth conservative this time around.

  38. Amy Says:

    Actually duplicated a link in my comment. Here is the woman who made Hillary cry in 2008: LINK

  39. Amy Says:

    No! Here it is. I have a gremlin in my laptop.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    kolnai: I think you are spot on. These personality traits and habits are the sort of thing we all react to in candidates (and when meeting people), almost constantly. Content matters too, but the other is almost equally important. We don’t usually analyze it; it gets processed as a “gut” feeling, and it can be very strong.

    I believe that’s a good part of the animus that drove Bush-hatred and Palin-hatred. Different people respond to different things. Quite early on with Obama, something about his manner and voice disturbed me and felt synthetic, arrogant, superficial, cold, humorless. I also didn’t agree with what he was saying, but the way he said it bothered me and seemed untrustworthy and egotistical. Other people were very drawn to him and felt something quite different in their guts. And it doesn’t just break down Democrat/Republican. I know Democrats who didn’t like or trust Obama, and those who adored him.

    And by the way, I don’t think Romney can change much, even with coaching. All these nonverbal habits are very resistant to change.

  41. LibertyAtStake Says:

    The country is hungry for #2. That’s why Newt will not only be the nominee, but will be the 45th President. Conservatives will just need to hold his feet to the fire while he’s in office. That won’t be so hard.

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  42. Robert Says:

    If Hillary could be considered a serious candidate, why couldn’t Newt? I think his strengths and weaknesses match up pretty closely. She has very high negatives among conservatives. He has very high negatives among liberals. He can remind people of the part he played in creating surpluses and properity in the 90’s. Most people are not going to remember Newt all that well from 20 years ago, which is probably a plus. I also think that the press will try to eat him alive. I’ve never thought of him as a president, but if he runs a good campaign he can win. Remember the economic boon that I helped Clinton get the credit for?

    His biggest problem is rubbing people the wrong way, which is how I remember him in the 90s. It is also how I think of Hillary now.

  43. kolnai Says:

    neo –

    Totally agreed w/r/t your observation about the “gut” reaction to Obama.

    Another thing I think worth mentioning is the larger cultural “aura” around a candidate. I know definitively – by introspection – that much of the negativity that I project onto Romney is more like a crystallized beam of a more dispersed negativity I have toward many of his most vocal supporters and the “culture” I see them embodying. It’s something more and something less than guilt by association.

    And I suppose this is what we’re hashing out in the primary. The different dimensions of a candidate and how they cohere into a victory in 2012 – the character dimension, the policy dimension, the electability dimension, and the cultural dimension. The latter loops around and interacts with electability and character, and probably influences our views on candidates’ policies as well, making clear-eyed calculation extremely difficult.

    I have no answer to this very human mess. But it’s an interesting mess, anyway.

  44. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    kolnai said, “……..the character dimension, the policy dimension, the electability dimension, and the cultural dimension.”

    Very well said. It provides a framework for analysis of the candidate. If one sat down and listed the various likes and dislikes under each dimension, you might have a more rational view of each candidate.

    However, you earlier mentioned how Romney made you feel and then were able to identify what it was he does that elicited that feeling. That’s so far above the self-knowledge of most voters that it literally puts you in tiny segnment of the population. It is, IMO, an admirable trait and we would be the better for it if most citizens were so equipped. Unfortunately, too many voters don’t carefully evaluate their picks.

    What really frustrates me about these national elections is the way they depend on the independents. The left and right have a fairly reliable core who will vote for them, but the independents swing wildly from one side to the other. They are, almost without exception, people who have few core economic ideas and little political knowledge. They vote on gut instinct, and unfortunately, a lot of that instinct comes from what they are fed by the MSM. No matter how much I like a candidate’s character or policy ideas, my favorite cannot be elected if he/she is not acceptable to independents. They are proud of their “independence,” but IMO, it makes it very difficult to elect the best person for the office.

  45. gcotharn Says:


    Excellent points, across the board.

    A thing, about some 1950s/1960s style salesmanship, which grates … is that TECHNIQUES were substituted .. in place of getting at the genuine truth about various concerns of customers.

    I do not want to endlessly repeat my criticisms of Romney. Yet, I suspect you partially object to your perceived Romney-1950s-salesmanship … not merely b/c of voice inflection … but also b/c Romney often substitutes TECHNIQUES in place of getting at the genuine truth about various concerns of voters.

    Romney supporters see this as slickness and capability. I do not. I see it as weakness. I see it as lack of capability. I see it as a sign of extreme narcissistic weakness and brittleness. I see it as a major part of the reason Romney leaves 80% of Repub voters feeling cold.

    When Romney is challenged, I do not see him as capable and slick. I look at his facial expression and body language, and I see, again and again, a frightened rabbit who is desperately trying to cover up. I do not see a strong candidate. I see a vulnerable, fatally flawed candidate. I do not think Romney is more slick and more electable. I think Romney is massively vulnerable and therefore less electable.

    And, I do not want my comments to be consistent Romney bashers. But, I think this is relevant for this point in this thread.

  46. foxmarks Says:

    “I’ve about lost all hope for the Republican Party. They seem to have completely thrown in the towel for statism. They’re barely even paying lip service to the concept of limited constitutional government anymore. They’re hardly even going through the motions.”


    The way righties have made repeal of Obamacare a linchpin issue will lead to losses on pretty much every other issue. Significant tax restructuring? No, but I will repeal Obamacare! Make the border secure? Sounds good, but did I mention I will repeal Obamacare! Remake the Defense department to reflect the 21st-Century world? I will keep *your* local contractor employed, and I will repeal Obamacare! Reign in the EPA, sure, after we Repeal Obamacare!

    If politics is the art of the possible, how much more freedom do we have to give up in order to get a little back? The ratchet of government goes only one way. If we don’t vote a revolution, one will be delivered upon us anyway.

    Gingrich is not the droid were are looking for.

  47. holmes Says:

    Read Romney’s (likely focus group-tested) economic plan and tell me if there’s anything objectionable in it. It seems solid. How is Gingrich different on the most important issue?

    And actually, here’s a decent comparison:

    Newt just has slightly more conservative ideas, which have less chance of actually being implemented. That is basically the Gingrich primary dilemma in a nutshell.

  48. rickl Says:

    Obamacare, hell, the Repubs couldn’t even repeal the light bulb ban.

    I don’t remember the precise details, but they used some esoteric parliamentary procedure that would have required more votes than a simple majority. There is NO excuse for that. That was an issue that should have gotten broad bipartisan support among both Republican and Democrat voters. Nobody apart from green extremists wants the federal government to dictate what kind of light bulbs we are permitted to use.

  49. Beverly Says:

    Not me. Take a look at this: Very good bit by Gov. Perry.

    I really like him. Warm, patriotic family man: and Texas’s economy is Booming.

    Or, we could vote for the best captain for the high school debate team.

  50. Beverly Says:

    RickL, I agree that the lightbulb ban was a real donnybrook. What a farce. And how limp can the Repubs be!

    Overall, because of such, I’m not to sanguine about America’s chances of returning to her root values. But I’m too stubborn to quit pushing.

    And I do find it passing strange that Perry gets no play in this thread: compared to the glaring defects of the candidates highlighted above, his “sins” are venial. He also has that all-important charisma factor going for him: he’s a hundred times more charming and likeable than either Newt or Mitt. Handsome, too.

    All of which, plus his heartland values and overall conservatism, and the great Texas economy, make him a very attractive candidate. I find it hard to believe that he can be washed out the scuppers because he’s not a great debater. He does do very well in one on one interviews.

    I think he’d have a better chance of winning over the indies. They’d like him a lot more, and would feel more comfortable with him, than with either Mitt or Newt.

  51. kolnai Says:

    gcotharn –

    Believe me, I have been absolutely savage towards Romney in my comments on other threads, and I have the same concerns you do – I just wanted to back-up and get some detachment, just on the general principle that it’s a good idea to not let oneself blow things out of proportion.

    Your point that these “tics” I’ve called attention to are signs of weakness is one I agree with. We just don’t know how much they’re going to matter should Romney make it to the general.

    Despite the fact that I am very reluctantly supporting Newt because his rhetorical skills are light-years better than Romney’s – with all else being basically a wash – I’m able to do so only because I don’t think Newt is all that much more likely to lose to Obama than Romney. That is, I think all of the pundits have VASTLY overestimated Romney’s chances against Obama.

    Nonetheless, I think Newt’s idea of following Obama around like Lincoln did to Douglas is daffy. I hope he’s just blowing smoke, because he’d look like a psycho stalker and would be portrayed as such if he actually followed through on it. But with regard to the topic at issue, my considerations boil down to these:

    1) At this point in time, I’d put Romney’s chances against Obama at about 45%, and I’d put Newt’s about 40%.

    2) We have (re-)learned from the Cain fiasco that voters can tolerate the devil they know, as opposed to finding out that an apparent saint has devilish qualities right now.

    Romney has no skeletons, but his comportment and his sarcasm-laced insecurity are highly off-putting, and most people haven’t experienced that yet (the feeling of “not liking” him).

    Gingrich has many skeletons that make him a known devil (people already know the feeling of “not liking” Newt), but if he continues to act mature and positive, sticking to policy and vision, he can activate the American urge to forgive the fallen – for we do love ourselves some redemption narratives. And I think Newt is skilled enough to manage the building of such a narrative.

    Which is to say, the negatives of Romney will tend to be fresh but the negatives of Gingrich will tend to be old news. People will thus be comparing Romney’s flaws and virtues “in real time,” as it were, while they’ll be comparing Gringrich’s past failings with his present virtues. It’s a trust question in both cases, but the modality of it is different for the two of them. (This is an aggregate statement of course – many people will be learning about Newt for the first time, but everyone will be learning about Romney for the first time.)

    3) Therefore, it is a risk to nominate either Romney or Gingrich (whereas the Romney pumpers don’t think it is risky to nominate Romney AT ALL – they act like his victory was every bit as foretold as the birth of Christ). Both could fall apart given the “gut” dynamics of the American center. Both, I believe, are more likely to lose than to win. So my question has simply been, Who has more of what I’d like? Newt does, because at least he is willing to articulate a vision.

    Thin gruel, indeed, but that’s the gruel we were served by the field.

    4) Obama had a vision in 2008; McCain did not. Obama will have no vision in 2012, and will instead go full-on Harry Truman.

    My reading of the tea leaves is that if we send someone against him with no vision and no ability to connect on a gut level, then the center will go with the devil they know (Obama).

    If we send someone with a vision who is willing to engage the American people on all sorts of emotional levels – activating the “redemption narrative” component of our psyche – we probably have a better chance. It goes without saying that the latter option is NOT safer, because the potential downside is heavy. Newt could just as well take the existing negativity toward him and square it – along with help from the media – in which case his vision probably won’t matter. Still, I think our best chance is to get the vision + the positive gut level engagement. Romney doesn’t give either, so he doesn’t give us the possibility of our best chance. He is more a completely steady decent chance. Newt, on the other hand, is more like a potential good chance and a potential awful chance, depending on how events pan out.

    As Dirty Harry might say, How lucky do you feel, punk?

    My personal inclination, given the facts on the ground, is to take a higher risk for what I judge to be a higher upside. Others think that the risk of Newt is TOO high, thus swamping whatever upside there might be – and they could be right. It’s just not what I see. Still, we agree in principle: If I thought Newt’s chances were as bad as that, then I wouldn’t take the risk.

    And this all comes back to the dimensionality question. I honestly don’t blame any of the people in the Republican field for our current situation – they at least got some skin in the game, whatever their motivations. It’s our entire cowardly A-Team who I think is to blame. We the voters are simply trying to figure out how to play the best hand from the crappy cards we’ve been dealt.

  52. Papa Dan Says:

    Romney can be bullied by Obama, Newt won’t. Newt will dog him all across the campaign trail reminding voters of all the corruption, crony capitalism, and his ham-fisted governing – Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the border debacle with it’s lawsuits, Obamacare, the insane foreign policy, GM and Chrysler, and on and on. Obama won’t be beat because Mitt has a prettier smile.

  53. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    One thing to keep in mind. This election is shaping up much like Reagan/Carter in 1980 and Clinton /GHW Bush in 1992. The overriding issue was the economy then, it is the overriding issue now. Reagan and Clinton won by asking if voters were better off than they were four years ago. Clinton’s motto, “It’s the economy stupid,” was spot on in 1992 and is just as spot on for today.

    Of course there are so many Obama failures and broken promises to highlight that just running on Obama’s non-record seems a no brainer. However, show-casing Obama’s goofs, flip flops, broken promises, and narcissistic detachment may be seen by many indies as too mean to that nice black man who is our president. (Or closet racism.) It certainly is the reaction among indies that I talk with.

    Many indies don’t know why the economy is still in the doldrums. They have only a vague sense of understanding why an anti-business governmment can have such a chilling effect on economic activity. So, the R candidate must be prepared to educate the indies on economics and stay on an, “It’s the economy stupid,” message. IMO, either Gingrich or Romney could do that effectively. On the other hand the negatives that can be used against them are much greater in the case of Gingrich. (His involvement with Freddie Mac is really problematic, IMO.) Since neither man is a true conservative, (Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry come closer to those values) the next thing to be considered is electability. In other words, how they will play to indies. I’m thinking that Romney has the edge there, but that may be because I live in a neighborhood populated by mostly independents. In the enclave where I live there are three of us who are conservative, five who are hard core lefties, and thirty-one who call themselves independents. Not representative of the larger voting population, but it provides me with insight into other people’s political thinking, particularly the independents.

  54. gcotharn Says:


    Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

    I go against the grain in this way: I think Obama is going down: both Gingrich and Romney would defeat him – but I agree with you, Papa Dan, and J.J. Former Jimmy, that Gingrich has a better chance. I could see a scenario in which Axelrod and friends shake-up Romney to his core, i.e. cow Romney into a shadow of the candidate which Romney currently is. Gingrich would be far more difficult to shake-up in that way. Gingrich is far less brittle; more supple; takes a hit far better. And the hits will come. Big hits, at whomever is the Repub nominee. BIG HITS. Inevitable.

    It is ironic that the 1990s era demonization of Gingrich is, now, to some degree, inoculating Gingrich (at least with undecided Repub voters).

    Three potential POTUS candidates have come through media storms which have inoculated them with many future voters: Gingrich, Hillary, Palin. Odd, that. All three are pre-vetted. Voters do not worry about sudden surprises springing up regarding any of the three. Future voters will be less concerned with old charges against any of the three: the old charges will have lost some power. Media, via massively attacking Gingrich, Hillary, and Palin, actually did each of them a favor, via vetting them in the eyes of future voters.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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