Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Conservatism

Going South

Are the Republicans degenerating or just revealing their true selves?  With his latest charge that M. Mitt speaks French (Newt does too), it must be speculated that Newt is indulging in (self-)caricature. Of course it can always get worse--someone can appeal to states' rights.  Here's a good explanation of why conservatives should speak of federalism instead--plus a few other New Year's political resolutions.

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Discussions - 22 Comments

The "Mitt speaks French" thing is to appeal to Southern sentiments toward the Georgia boy.

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After last night's SC debate, who still doubts that Newt should be the nominee. It doesn't matter what his flaws are - this man has the rhetorical and political skills to unseat Obama. 'Nuff said.

Character matters?

I'm not sure character EVER really mattered, Scanlon, at least not for getting elected to high office in this country. But for the record, I realized character was irrelevant for the American electorate when it put Slick Willie Clinton in office...TWICE. And do you really want to start comparing "character" between GOP and Dem politicians?

You're more than welcome to engage in the exercise of comparing "character" (why the quotation marks there in that question?) between GOP and Dem politicians, sure.

Go, right ahead. You, like plenty of others before you, assume that because I take note of the mind-boggling amount of self-righteous hypocrisy displayed by Gingrich that I am on Team Dem. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For someone who has been so happy to focus on character and moral issues in analyzing other (Dem) pols, it makes sense that he should also be subject to the same standards he holds up to others - regardless of how relevant or measurable such standards are (e.g., a spouse can be immoral and lacking in character without cheating sexually; there's no way to objectively measure how good of a parent or spouse has been without completely eliminating any notion of privacy for candidates, and even then we would never be able to get at some ultimate truth on the matter. Perhaps Gingrich chose his wives poorly and they were the most maniacal psycho-hags ever - who knows? Perhaps his wives have all been fairly angelic and exemplary, but he still cheated on them and wanted to sleep around).

Gingrich has built his political career on the concept that "character matters" and that infidelity and marital relationships were fair game for evaluating such things.

It seems reasonable that he should be subject to the same standards he sets for others, even though he clearly has changed his mind - ever so conveniently - on whether such things should even enter public discussions (did he scold CNN when they ran with the Lewinsky story??):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/marianne-gingrich-newts-ex-wife-says-he-wanted-open-marriage/2012/01/19/gIQAJzgwAQ_story.html

Thomas Sowell apparently has a laughable take on this matter (like so many others):

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/jan/12/letter-character-matters-for-everyone-or-for-no/

Sowell, Dec. 29, 1998:

"Talk about how apologetic or contrite Bill Clinton is or isn't misses the whole point. This is not about one individual. It is about the future of this country."

He's such a serious man, that Sowell!

Not that your post is worth responding to, but what the hell. Newt Gingrich has not built his career on the premise that "character matters." He built it on ideas and the practical application of conservative principles. Even at the time of the Clinton impeachment, Gingrich has explained that he proceeded with the charges because 1) adultery & lying to a Federal prosecutor aren't the same thing, and 2) he had a duty to his constituency. He was not personally outraged by Clinton's lack of character. Newt is a political animal, first and foremost.

Here's a new idea for my Romney-backing colleagues. What's the correlation between divorce and political effectiveness?

Just for starters:

"In 1999 Newt phoned Marianne, just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, declaring "I want a divorce." He then proceeded to his next speaking engagement, addressing Republican women on the topic, "The Demise of American Culture," decrying the country's estrangement from "God, families and values."

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/connelly/article/Gingrich-Celebrating-God-families-and-2652260.php

"For instance, in an article for Human Events in 1998 (via Nexis), Gingrich made the high-minded claim that impeachment was all about law and the Constitution, but then he added:

“Around the world today, the institution of the presidency has been degraded to the point that it is viewed as the rough equivalent of the Jerry Springer show -- a level of disrespect and decadence that should appall every American.”

What’s more, during the 1998 midterm elections, Gingrich was intimately involved in the creation of a GOP ad campaign that made this claim about Clinton: “What did you tell your kids? ... It’s wrong. For seven months he lied to us.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/newt-gingrich-rewrites-history-of-role-in-clinton-impeachment/2011/03/03/AF17PnoB_blog.html

The right seems to have no limits whatsoever - nor any sense of shame (see Newt's debate attack on the "media" and the wild applause he got for it) in the realm of historical revisionism.

Here's a new idea for my Romney-backing colleagues. What's the correlation between divorce and political effectiveness?

I'm hardly a Romney backer, but I'll bite. There's no correlation between the two. But "political effectiveness" isn't enough to get me to support a former hired shill for Freddie Mac. It's not a matter of his effectiveness (on which I'm agnostic), but rather whether he will be effective in doing the right things. Gingrich has given us little reason to think that he knows what those are.

John Moser, yes, that's it.

Newt has repeatedly denied the stories about his first wife, and this has been collaborated by other people. Of course, once these things get on the Internet they are eternal.

John and Kate, I think GOP voters see something in Newt they don't see in the others...enough charisma to maybe beat Obama. Sure as hell the others don't have any.

The question for you is this: If Newt becomes the nominee, will you sit at home and accept another 4 years of socialist leadership, or will you hold your nose and push the button for Newt? This may be your only choice in the matter.

You call it charisma, I call it anger. It's red meat that the party base--particularly in the South--eats up. It may win him the nomination, but because it will turn off the undecideds he will never become president. History suggests that the electorate will always go with the more likeable candidate, and no matter how glib he might be, Gingrich is thoroughly unlikeable.

If Gingrich is the candidate I will vote for the Libertarian nominee, who will probably be Gary Johnson. Of course, I'll probably do the same if Romney's the candidate, but I'll do so with a bit more hesitation.

Oh, I'll vote for Newt if it's him or Mitt. John's vote for Gary Johnson translates to a vote for four more years of what we have. Well, not quite, because Republicans will probably pick up the Senate and retain the House. That would probably be the best thing that could happen to Obama in terms of his historic legacy. He will be forced to do sensible things or at least prevented from doing much more harm.

First line, my intent was, "...or Mitt if it isn't."

John, what are your objections to Romney?

Sad, John. You'd condemn the country to four more years of ruinous socialism in order to remain ideologically pure. Wow. And your logic is, well, illogical. You don't support Newt because he supposedly can't be elected, but then you'd throw your vote to a man who has an even worse chance of winning.

I'll vote for Romney if he's the nominee, but I doubt he will win. It's McCain redux. No spark, not enough ideological distance between him and the Dems, and the rhetorical skills of a damp dishrag (i.e., reliable, but humdrum).

And are you saying that Nixon was more likable than affable Hubert Humphrey? Or a rather stern Ronald Reagan more likable than humble Jimmy Carter? I think charisma is the correct word, but the Zeitgeist is also important. And what's so likable about Barack Obama that we have to run a manikin in order to win?

Romney is a boring crony capitalist, who, like Gingrich, is a phony conservative who would continue the Bush-Obama foreign policy. But he might actually be a decent human being, which is more than I can say for Newt.

I actually think Obama's going to be reelected whether the GOP's candidate is Romney or Gingrich, but if the Republicans can capture the Senate it won't make much of a difference. I think I'd actually prefer to see Obama stay in the White House--as long as both houses of Congress are Republican--than the same scenario with a Gingrich White House. A Republican Congress will restrain a liberal president--which is precisely what happened from 1995 to 2000. The combination of a Republican Congress with a Republican president, such as existed from 2001 to 2006, is, to my mind, considerably worse. To have the man in the Oval Office be Newt Gingrich, a self-proclaimed progressive who constantly refers to "fundamental transformation" (a term that should give any conservative heebie-jeebies), and who resorts to cheap anti-capitalist rhetoric to pick up votes, strikes me as the worst possible outcome. I don't like Rick Santorum at all, either, but even he'd be preferable to Gingrich.

As for your comparisons, you seem to be comparing the Reagan and Carter of 1976, not 1980. Look at the debates and tell me if Carter comes off as more likeable than Reagan.

I'll accept that Nixon-Humphrey is an exception, but the the massive division in the Democrats' ranks over Vietnam in 1968 makes it a highly exceptional exception. The closeness of that election, even under those circumstances, suggests that my theory holds.

"But [Romney] might actually be a decent human being, which is more than I can say for Newt."

He put his dog in an "airtight" container on top of his car and drove 12 hours from Boston to Ontario. He says, a la the ever-likeable Donald Trump, that he "like[s] to fire people" and - at the risk of you nodding in agreement - that "corporations are people too." ("Honey, don't forget to set a place at the table for Wal-Mart for Christmas dinner!")

A decent human being? Nope.

(and I thought you were an animal lover, John!)

Craig, I am an animal lover, and I won't defend what Romney did to that dog. But I'm sure that if you provided us with your real name we could find some things in your past that you're not proud of. A lapse in judgment does not a pattern of behavior make.

As for the first quote, here's what Romney really said--in context--about firing people:

“I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

“You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”

I fail to see anything problematic in that statement. If I routinely get lousy service at a restaurant, I stop going there. What do you do?

Likewise, "corporations are people" is also a true statement, in the legal sense. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to say on the campaign trail, but hardly evidence of indecency.

Of course, the larger implication of your post--that having poltiical beliefs that are different from yours disqualifies one from being a "decent human being"--should come as no surprise to anyone who has read what you've written here over the years.

For the record, I think Obama is probably a decent human being as well, which is one of the reasons why he will have no problem beating Newt Gingrich.

Actually, John, I hear what you say about the advantages of a divided government and NOT having a RINO in the White House. I simply disagree that Newt is such a person. And as for being a "real" conservative, I guess it depends on your definition. If you are a PaulBot, "conservative" refers to a completely unrealistic view of what is possible in this country. Since I've concluded that the country will have some level of progressive politics, I'd much rather that be managed by Newt than any of the other candidates (particularly Obama). Presidents can do an enormous amount of damage with or without the Congress.

As for Newt's negative ads, he didn't start that. Romney started it, and has always done so when he found himself behind. He is NOT a decent human being...he's a person who has a strong will to power. Come on, John, let's sober up a bit, shall we?

"Craig, I am an animal lover, and I won't defend what Romney did to that dog."

...you'll just go after me (as a sideways defense of Romney), and all of the awful things you assume that I must have done in my (unfortunately untraceable) past.

"I'm sure that if you provided us with your real name we could find some things in your past that you're not proud of.I'm sure that if you provided us with your real name we could find some things in your past that you're not proud of."

I'm not running for POTUS with claims of an exemplary character. Keep in mind, too, that Romney has had numerous opportunities to admit that he made a (12-hour) "lapse in judgment" but he always insists that there was no problem with it.

You and Romney both seem to share the idea that getting health care is just another consumer choice, akin to choosing a restaurant (or some other "service" provider - perhaps that of tax lawyer? Apparently, Mitt's chosen well!) I don't even know where to start with that one... So, I'll drop the "likes to fire people" from my list - fine.

"Of course, the larger implication of your post--that having poltiical beliefs that are different from yours disqualifies one from being a "decent human being"--should come as no surprise to anyone who has read what you've written here over the years."

Way to rally the troops!

But since when are conservatives so averse to defining decency and judging the extent to which others (and entire groups of others) possess it? Is it just a brief intermission in the judgment-casting until Newt fades away?

My disgust with his treatment of his own dog is not a political belief.

Yes, Obama should be seen by conservatives as a "decent human being." And you should have been thanking him on a regular basis over the last 3 years for being so very decent to the right.

Yea, let's thank him for the union pay-backs, Green-jobs corruption, the medical fiasco, and the enormous debt he's piling up for us and our descendants. Scanlon, what a shill you are. Obama is the worst President we've had since Carter, hand's down. And as for being a decent person, given what he's allowed Eric Holder to get away with, that's a dubious proposition at best.

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