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Dick Morris on Rudy’s Surge

According to Morris, Rudy’s lead is growing for good reasons, and McCain is clearly fading, even in fund raising. Romney probably has insurmountable problems, and Gingrich hasn’t capatured anyone’s imagination. That means Guiliani’s main rival for the nomination will probably be some "dark horse," although, in my view, nobody on his list of long-shots is credible. In the end, the Republican nominee’s clock will be cleaned by Hillary.

Discussions - 41 Comments

It would be foolish to count McCain out yet. Rudy hasn’t begun getting hit yet. The fact that he lived with "two gay men and a shi tzu" isn’t going to go over very well with the base. And that picture that National Review recently ran on their cover, of Rudy dressed in drag, easily could come back to haunt him.

Additionally, if the surge works, if we begin to get a handle of the situation in Baghdad and throughout the rest of Iraq, McCain will have proven prescient about the increased troop levels.

Lastly, if the media begins to conclude that Rudy represents a greater threat to the Democrat nominee than McCain, then you can expect favourable media coverage of McCain, while Rudy begins to see intensified negative coverage. That too, could easily move numbers against Rudy.

Rudy, if you notice, has already begun telling the GOP that he will appoint judges based on their adherence to Constitutional originalism. If the base believes Rudy, and there is little reason to believe they won’t, for Rudy doesn’t have a track record like Romney of dodging and weaving on that topic, then Rudy will prove incredibly difficult for McCain to overcome.

McCain has his work cut out for him.

Peter: Care to expand on the reasons behind your clock-cleaning prediction?

If there is to be a "dark horse" then it will be Gingrich. Every time that Gingrich appears on a talk show, on a radio show, his popularity amongst the GOP base grows. His articulation, his command of the issues, his refusal to adopt some ingratiating tone, his refusal to look like a defeated, whipped dog, as many another Republican has, only makes him look all the more what he truly is, a man who can lead, and a man who can lead through troubled times. After 7 years of Bush’s verbal palsy, Gingrich’s command of the English language is powerfully attractive.

Which Republican doesn’t cringe when Bush opens his mouth, which Republican doesn’t enjoy listening to Gingrich dissect media personalities.

Peter’s "clock cleaning" prediction must be based on the assumption the conservative base stays home in the general election. Maybe they will. Or maybe they’ll be as motivated to vote against Hillary as for a preferred GOP candidate.

Hillary’s numbers have always been best when she shuts up and hides. I’m not clear how she can do that in a general election. I’m more skeptical of a "clock cleaning" of Rudy by Hillary.

I am curious why you think Hillary will dominate any Republican nominee. Is it simply her Machiavellian virtue, or is there something else?

It’s not Peter’s prediction only. Dick Morris says that Hillary will likely wipe the floor with the nominee. Recent polls, obviously too early to be very meaningful, are indicating the same. Hillary was leading Giuliani in OH.

Dan makes all the sensible comments about the campaign above.

Clint is right. I don’t make predictions; I was just announcing Dick’s. I also agree that Dan’s comments are good.

The Austin daily had a piece the other day showing McCain well ahead of Rudy in backing from Republican donors, two or three to one.

It’s way too early for all this speculation. My prediction is this, however: Hilliary Clinton will never be the POTUS.

The other Dan,

Gingrich clearly has command of the issues. He is just wrong on them. He is trying to out neocon the neocons on the Middle East.

Ron Paul has command of the issues. Read his archives. And he has the virtue of being right on almost every one of them.

I still say if Rudy is the nominee some of the base stays home or bolts. I suspect many Constitution Party supporters are secretly hoping Rudy gets the nod. That will be the quickest way to get the CP out of the 100,000+ vote area.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been hearing Frank Luntz all over the place putting forth essentially the same thesis as Morris re: Guiliani--though minus the prediction that Hillary will mop up the floor with him. He’s also promoting this book--which sounds like it could be very interesting and, perhaps, very useful to whoever the nominee is in the end. I do, very much, like his general point that conservatives and Republicans need to be more effective in communicating their ideas in ways that appeal to an electorate they can expect to be common-sensical but not particularly sophisticated. That’s why I wonder about Gingrich in the end. He appeals to conservatives who are "in the loop" because of his way with words and his apparent intelligence. But I think he has some hard edges that make him tough for regular folks to swallow. And he seems to lack a willingness to work on smoothing them.

Julie is right on Gingrich. He lacks charm, grace, and the bearing associated with leadership

Don’t think that Hillary can’t win if she simply shuts up and hides. Bob Casey ran a campaign where he limited himself to a single appearance per week. And he won. So it can be done.

Gingrich has hard edges. Men SHOULD have some hard edges. After 8 years of Clinton, and then another seven of George Walker Bush, America might be ready for the more rugged and robust style of a Gingrich.

I don’t know about all of you, but Clinton biting his lip and sending cruise missiles in the dead of the night didn’t impress me. And moreover, the very thought of my President, the Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces, the leader of the free world, the champion in arms of the free West, holding the hand of that saudi, corpulent voluptuary, with that dopy look on his face while he was doing it, just makes my stomach turn.

Recalling my President taking his shoes off while he wanders into some mosque supported and sustained by the satanic wahabis, recalling all of this "islam is peace" crap, recalling the appointment of men like Paul O’Neill, Nicholas Burns, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, et al, I think it’s more than enough time for a real man with some real hard edges.

I agree that we need a real man, and that Bush has been much less of one than many people give him credit for.
That doesn’t mean that manliness necessarily qualifies someone to be president, let alone makes him electable. It is very hard to make a case that Newt is electable. Sad, but true.

This post has made the big time. See link below.

Not only is Newt trying to out neocon the neocons, the other Dan is as well. One’s willingness to send other people to fight battles is no indication of manliness.

So is Powell girly because he was a war skeptic?

Yes, Dan. Men should have hard edges. But they should also be capable of a gentle seduction--or at least be open to it if the opportunity presents itself. Mars informed by Venus, if you will. Shaping and informing public opinion requires that the one who aspires to do the shaping have a real understanding of its current aspect.

Does Newt have that in the end? I doubt it . . . but I am open to being proven wrong. I do so wish he would prove me wrong. He piques the interest, and he gets the mental juices flowing and even a kind of marshal passion . . . but he tends to fall flat when it comes to sealing the deal. I think the popular perception of him is one of general distaste--too rough and gruff, too unfeeling, a hard sell. He appeals too much to reason and not enough to our moral imagination. This makes it difficult for many people to trust him--for trust is, after all, little more than an emotion. It is an emotion that can (and should) be informed by reason. But ultimately it is a guess, a risk, a feeling and people will ever be misled in these things by charlatans if the rational don’t compete on their level. It is wrong to be too harsh on people for this tendency, for we all have it in some degree. Consider this: people don’t trust barking dogs when push comes to shove--even if the dog is barking for a good reason. The dog is likely to bite someone . . . how can you be sure it won’t be you? Stay away from him. On the other hand, a good dog--even in the midst of a wild frenzy of protective barking--will stop barking occasionally and whimper to show its affection for the master. The master sees that the dog is not going to break the trust and bite him rather than the intruder. It is not sufficient to say that this sort of appeal ought not to be necessary. It won’t do to suggest that people need to be better at discerning the reason for the barking--that’s advice from wise Indians and dog handlers. It only works on a micro-level. In the abstract or in your personal life, you may have a point. In reality and in politics, it is moot.

Another way to put one of Julie’s points is this: Newt is too one-dimensionally intellectual. He doesn’t turn it off occasionally and make pleasing noises and body language for the unintellectual. I would add that he too often, too predictably and unrelievedly, asks people to think about some difficult questions. And even most intellectuals get tired of that. It’s a sad commentary on the limits of democracy, but as our incumbent president once said: "It is what it is."

David: I suppose what you say is one way to put it--though, in its lack of charity, it is one that rather demonstrates my point. The GOP and fellow travelers would do well to keep that sort of thing in mind now and again. There is something wrong--not just morally, but also intellectually--in insulting the feelings of the people.

Here’s a link to a story in the New York Post via Drudge that made me laugh out loud. Rudy and Judi Giuliani have an interview in Harper’s Bazaar, and I think it will be very good for his image (not so much the photo as what his wife has to say). If he keeps getting publicity like this he may well give Hillary a run for her money.

Here’s a sample:

"I’ve always liked strong, macho men, and Rudy - I’m not saying this because he’s my husband - is one of the smartest people on the planet," gushed the former Judith Nathan to Harper’s Bazaar in editions due out Feb. 20.

"What people don’t know is that Rudy’s a very, very romantic guy. We love watching ’Sleepless in Seattle.’ Can you imagine my big testosterone-factor husband doing that?"

Describing Rudy, a former federal prosecutor, as "the Energizer Bunny with no rechargeable batteries," Judi said, "One of the most remarkable things about my husband, who sleeps three or four hours a night, is his energy level and stamina.

20: Julie, I agree that the feelings of the people should not be insulted. However, the people do not read NLT. We’re a small set of folks, talking to each other. My own comments, as usual, are directed to my fellow conservative intellectuals and/or activists on this site. I would think the purpose of a site like this is to speak candidly among ourselves. And candidly, the things I said in my previous post are true. It doesn’t mean democracy is wrong, and it doesn’t mean a candidate shouldn’t show considerable respect for the public. In analyzing how politics works, however, we cannot let sentiment get in the way.

Powell was far more than simply a "skeptic." Powell, especially through his minion Armitage engaged in a turf battle against the execution of a policy selected by the President of the United States. That’s what he did. Powell knew, through Armitage, that it was Armitage who divulged that worthless information about Joe Wilson’s wife. Yet Powell allowed the White House to swing in the wind for over a year without coming forward and informing the American people of the role his minion played in the drama.

It needs to be recalled that the ENTIRE second term domestic agenda was thwarted because of the Valerie Plame legal drama. Not to mention the damage it caused by imputing the credibility of the Commander-in-Chief in a time of war. Powell and Armitage, likewise Wilkerson, they knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

Is Powell a "girly man?" That’s your phrase, not mine. But let’s just say that Powell hasn’t distinguished himself at all ever since his appointment as Secretary of State. Powell played the media, adopting the "loyal soldier" routine dutifully following the flawed orders of his superior. But ALL THE WHILE he was involved in an all out war against the implementation of the Bush doctrine.

Why did this nation focus on Afghanistan first, instead of the foremost sponsor of muslim mayhem and death?

Why was it that "Saudi" Arabia completely escaped any consequence for an attack their regime directly or indirectly fomented?

Why was Powell so determined to repeat the Arab narrative, that "settlement" of the Israeli/"Palestinian" was "CRUCIAL" to the resolution of the wider war?

Powell was as much out of his depth as he was nakedly insubordinate.


PETER LAWLER says that Gingrich "lacks charm, grace and the bearing associated with leadership." Grant didn’t exude such "charm," such "grace," nor did Sherman, nor Patton for that matter. Did they lack "leadership?" There are many ways of being a leader. There is a Tom Landry way, a Bill Walsh way, a Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan way and a Tony Dungy way. Ultimately the judgement is one of success. That’s the ONLY barometer on leadership. Victory! Gingrich did what no Republican had done in 40 years, what’s more, what no Republican had even aspired to in twenty years. And that was gain majority status in the House of Representatives. His contract with America was the stuff of genius, and it was his idea, implemented in the face of a hostile GOP establishment. He LITERALLY had to drag them kicking and screaming to majority status, {their attitudes of losing "gracefully" find full expression in the Rockefeller Republican Bush clan, which if you haven’t noticed, have promptly restored us to second class citizenship status in the company town, Washington}.


Ronald Wilson Reagan isn’t in the race, and no one with his stature or power of expression is in the party right now. But it’s instructive to note that when Reagan won the nomination, nobody gave him a chance. The party establishment was worn down by his insistence on the nomination, so there was a feeling of why not give him his chance, and then we’ll be done with him. Steve Hayward captures faithfully the GOP attitude towards Reagan at the time, in his MAJESTERIAL biography of the man and his times. The race between Carter and Reagan was neck and neck almost until election day. My point here is that before Reagan won, most said that a "B Actor" hadn’t a prayer for the Presidency. When Reagan won the GOP nomination, Carter’s people celebrated, so convinced were they that they would make short work of that lightweight Reagan.

So when we examine Gingrich, it’s well to recall that before Gingrich took the House, most said it couldn’t be done. People underestimate his abilities at their own peril.

But this begs a greater question. PETER LAWLER’S comment got me to thinking about the nation’s discourse.

Remember Tom Daschle, remember when he would get on the talk shows and profess "concern" about the various issues. When queried on anything, he was apt to respond with a variant of "I share that concern," or "I have concerns," or then again "those too, are my concerns."

Didn’t that turn your stomach? I mean that LITERALLY, not figuratively. So let’s ask again. Didn’t that turn your stomach?

Remember Kofi Anan. Was there anyone out there who didn’t squirm when he opened his mouth. Not just the substance of what he said, uniformly objectionable. No. THE MANNER OF HIS VOICE. How he was endlessly trying to affect this non-threatening demeanor.

Wasn’t there something profoundly effeminate about that

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pathetic that grown men are out there trying to speak in a voice that’s not even appropriate for a 4th grade teacher.

I like how Gingrich speaks. And I find pathetic those men who try to change their style, their very manhood, for political purposes.

Don’t all of you? And if not, why not?

I think that people in the GOP who oppose Gingrich are rattled by his overwhelming, all-powerful confidence. He’s simply too American in this post-modern time. Gingrich flows from American Exceptionalism. His success was founded on American bedrock. But there are many today who prefer to discard American Exceptionalism. For that Exceptionalism carries with it brutal responsibility and burdensome obligation. Gingrich has faith in the rugged American people. So do I. But many a Republican doesn’t.

LASTLY, DAN PHILLIPS said that "one’s willingness to send other people to fight battles is no indication of manliness." That’s a novel take. Does an inability to make such decisions, an inability to order other men to fight make one MORE of a man? History always found something strong within a Lincoln who was willing to wage a war of attrition against Southern military leadership. And history always found something worth the while in an Eisenhower, who despite projections of crushing losses among Airborne forces in the Overlord Operation, nonetheless, ordered the Paratroopers in.

Dan, this is what I want you to do, don’t worry it’s not painful or tiresome. I want you to go rent a movie. It’s called COMMAND DECISION. It stars Clarke Gable, Walter Pidgeon and Joseph Cotton. I saw it long ago when I was a kid. It’s like TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH. I want you to watch it. And I want you to think about what kind of men can make those decisions. And then I want you to ask yourself what occurred in history between that time, and this time, that would invalidate that kind of leadership. Even if you don’t agree with me, you should enjoy the movie. It’s something of a classic.

All this was very interesting and enjoyable. All I can say now is that Newt scores low on the gentle seduction meter, and all comparisons between Newt and Patton or anyone else who has showed grace and courage in leadership in dangerous situations are ridiculous. Newt’s "manliness," so to speak, has never been tested. He seems to me to be, most of all, a bourgeois technocrat who occasionally talks tough. To compensate for this intemperate post, I will say something good about Newt in a minute in a different context.

Good Lord Dan. You have slurped down the Red Kool-Aid.

I promise I will rent the movie you suggest, if you promise to read this link.

Twelve O’clock High is a great movie, BTW. A note of political trivia: Bob Dornan has a small role in that film as a pilot.

As the link will show, you invoking Lincoln, Sherman, American Exceptionalism, and Newt is entirely consistent. Where to start?

America is not exceptional. That is a Strauss/Jaffa liberal lie. We are a country like all others. Patriotism requires that every person esteem their country above others because it is theirs. But myths like American Exceptionalism are dangerous, hubristic, and dare I suggest unchristian. The potential for mischief from the "exceptional" conceit is enormous. For example - the Indians, the Philippines, Panama, Cuba, nuking civilian cities, and the INVASION OF THE SOUTH. The British Empire suffered under a similar conceit.

What you and Gingrich espouse is not conservatism properly understood. It is Nationalism and Federalism (large F) with a Jacobin/revolutionary edge. The last caveat is thrown in because even Hamilton would not recognize the modern aberration.

It is not just important to lead and make decisions. It is important where you lead and what you decide. Sherman was surely a leader, but he was also a WAR CRIMINAL, and he savaged my home State. Lincoln was a leader, albeit a double-talking and manipulative one, but he also trampled the Constitution, destroyed the Old Republic, and got 600,000+ of both countries best and brightest killed.

We agree on one thing. Powell is no hero, at least post military. Powell is not an anti-war paleo. He is an old-school realist, similar to Baker. Fine, I would rather someone be realistic before starting a war instead of some Jacobin crusader, but he is not a non-interventionist. He is a multilateralist.

I agree that if Powell was not on board with the policy he should have resigned. His dog and pony show before the UN was humiliating.

I also agree that politics in this country have been feminized, both from a style perspective (blow-dried Romney, touchy-feely Obama) and a policy perspective ("compassionate conservatism"). But jingoistic saber-rattling in pursuit of world revolution is not a sign of manliness. It is a sign of ideological delusion.

To David F: this is what I said:

There is something wrong--not just morally, but also intellectually [emph. added]--in insulting the feelings of the people.

I would evoke the example of Lincoln again, but then Dan Phillips might lapse into a rebel fit we cannot here contain. I know what you’re saying, though David. You seem like a good guy and I’m sure you don’t have real contempt for the people. But even in this kind of discourse, you can’t be intellectually honest if you disregard one part of republican theory for the purpose of advancing another part. Public opinion--the respecting of which is an essential part of the justice of republican government--is like the proverbial "canary in the mine shaft." It is crazy to dismiss it as simplyreflexive or unthinking. There may be elements of stupidity or misinformation in it from time to time, of course. And that’s why shaping public opinion is so essential. But "shaping" public opinion does not and cannot mean intellectual tyranny or condescension. If public opinion really is so unreliable in and of itself, then genuine self-government is not possible and the aristocrats of the old South should have their way with us.

Julie, you’re overcomplicating and overtheorizing. I’m not talking about the general place of public opinion in our society. I’m talking about people’s reactions, in campaigns, to serious attempts to educate them. I do not say that public opinion on the whole is generally stupid. I do say that it, and the vast majority of people, are sufficiently unintellectual that they resent implicit or explicit demands, e.g., from Gingrich, that they think. They also resent the raising of genuinely difficult questions, which amounts to the same thing. And yes, this is a sad commentary on democracy. (You talk about "republican theory." Fine. I would suggest that republican theory, if we’re serious about it, probably calls for literacy tests.)

"I would evoke the example of Lincoln again, but then Dan Phillips might lapse into a rebel fit we cannot here contain."

Having your forefathers slaughtered tends to do that to a fella.

David, I don’t think I’m over-complicating or over-theorizing the matter at all. I’m trying to simplify it and you are over-complicating it by being somewhat Utopian in your expectations and subsequent disappointments. People would not reject Gingrich’s attempts to make them think if he could do it in a way that did not always give the impression that he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room--even if he is. People resent know-it-alls. When they no longer resent know-it-alls then it will be a good time to start worrying about whether they are educable in the principles of liberty. I’ll take that sort of spirit in a people over literacy tests any day.

Re: DP’s "slaughtered forefathers" . . . I suppose we can all claim those, but seriously, dude--142 years ought to ease some of that hurting! When it doesn’t this again points to a major drawback in your tribal sort of thinking about nationhood. I’m rather glad to be free of the burden of harboring such a long grudge. But why stop there? Why not point to injustice that certainly led your forefathers to come to America in the first place? But then we’d get into the sticky problem of asking why they felt compelled to abandon their kith and kin in the old country. Might it have been one of those dang abstractions? Nah . . . probably they went through all that trouble to come here and be a part of all that Anglo-Saxon historic tradition--you know, that stuff that was working so well for them across the pond. But seriously, DP, I’m glad you’re here. I’m learning a great deal from our conversations.

Sure, they resent know-it-alls. And Gingrich does come across as one, and he shouldn’t. But it’s not only mind-stretching of this particular type that they resent. Generally speaking, the public does not like being made to think about difficult issues, period. I do not have utopian "expectations." My expectations are based on what I see, which I have described. I have personal preferences for a public more inclined toward serious thinking. I would hope that we all did. But I hardly have such "expectations." Let me return your condescension: I frankly think, Julie, that your interpretation of political theory has invented for you an idealized public that does not exist.

Julie and David, I think we’re asking too much of Gingrich, {or any man for that matter} asking him to pretend to NOT having answers, when he knows in his soul that he does. You’re asking too much, you’re expecting him to be a fraud to himself. You’re expecting him to abase himself before ignorant men who haven’t spent near as much time as he wrestling with the vast policy issues of our day. Because he’s spent the time tackling health care, finding out how dysfunctional our State Department is, because he wasn’t satisfied simply identifying problems, but devised solutions, AMERICAN solutions to those problems, fellas like PETER LAWLER brand him a "bourgeois technocrat."

This is a quasi Catch-22. Because we want somebody with answers, we want somebody who won’t simply get out there and say he has "concerns," but then we blast him as being a "know it all."

Newt is a bright guy. Having spent as much time as he has down there in Washington, where so many delude themselves that they too are bright guys, when they’re not, Newt has NATURALLY acquired a certain contempt for many in the Washington bureaucratic and establishment elites. ISN’T THAT HEALTHY? Isn’t that a healthy response? I would prefer someone who disdains the establishment, then someone who reaches out to them for answers.

Go back and watch that AEI conference where Newt and Charles Krauthammer assessed the State Department’s actions throughout the long Iraq war buildup. HE ABSOLUTELY RIPPED THE STATE DEPARTMENT. It was beautiful. Charles Krauthammer could barely stop himself from laughing out loud. Barbara Slavin of the USA Today was apoplectic in her defense of the establishment, and in her defense of that nakedly insubordinate Colin Powell.

How anyone can watch that conference, {are you reading this PETER LAWLER...?} and dismiss Gingrich as lacking leadership skills, as merely being somebody who "talks tough," as being nothing more than a glorified policy wonk, is beyond me.

David, I don’t idealize the public. I have lower, not higher expectations than you. I do not blame people for not taking any particular interest in being educated by Newt or any other politician on the finer points of the health-care debate. What regular person has the time or patience for that? Further, who can blame people for having not been moved by (or even seen) Newt’s brilliant performance at an AEI conference? Saying that this demonstrates "leadership" (though I wouldn’t use that word myself) is like saying that because Peter Lawler (or any other academic here) did a wonderful job of crushing some guy on an APSA panel, he should be president. No offense, Peter, but I don’t think I’m crushing any of your dreams here, right?

David is right to say that generally speaking the public does not like to be made to think about difficult issues. But in a sense, they’re right not to like it--people who do like it are rare and need to have a lot of time on their hands. That’s why we elect representatives . . . to do that which we either cannot do or have no inclination to do for us! We don’t have direct democracy where every citizen is asked to think through every subject. That’s why conservatives are right to criticize governing according to the polls. It’s up to the would-be representative to capture the moral imagination of the public and give them a reason to trust him. To do this he’s either got to appeal to some basic principles of good government in a way that resonates with the people or (I admit it) he’s got to be a demagogue. Of course, this leaves us open to the possibility of bad representation; we often do get demagogues and flatterers. But we usually get these folks when the alternative is an otherwise good guy who simply isn’t politically savvy enough to make people trust him. There are two causes of this problem: 1. he doesn’t understand the principles of good government and so he bores people with talk of policy or 2. he isn’t likable. In other words, if demagogues win, it is my contention that the blame for that lies more with the losing party than with the people.

No, I’m not crushed. I’ll just adjust my dreams accordingly.

34: Dan, I think you misunderstand me. I could not agree with you more about Newt. I don’t want him to change. He is a badly needed tonic in the third-rate stuff we get from most of our other leading politicians. I’m just saying that, unfortunately, in a presidential campaign his style is a nonstarter. I repeat: Unfortunately. It was an analytical point, not a normative one.

35: Julie, a few quick points. One, I do not think people should, even theoretically, be expected to be interested in narrow specifics -- e.g., "the finer points of the health care debate," as you put it. In theory, I do believe that they should, if they are serious citizens, welcome serious discussion about the MAJOR questions that should shape our consideration of the major issues. That, not technical wonkery, is what I’m talking about. Two, "crushing" an opponent, intellectually and otherwise, is something that -- in this day and age especially -- we should damned well want a president, or a presidential nominee, to be able to do. Three, I disagree with your dismissal of people who think seriously about politics as those who simply "have time on their hands," implying that intellectuals (of the real sort) are inferior to soccer moms. That’s the sheerest populist sentimentality. Four, I don’t believe it takes lots of time to think. It simply takes a basic level of brainpower, and a certain seriousness.
Again, thinking is not the same as mastering the details on a Gingrich level.

David, now that you have clarified yourself here I actually think that--on a fundamental level--we agree. If it’s a general understanding of right and wrong and clear-eyed insights about what works in achieving that, then you’re right--there’s no excuse for its absence in the people. I think our disagreement boils down to this: if the wrong man wins an election or the wrong ideas gain popular support, I don’t blame the electorate as much as I blame the lack of statesmanship in the losers. I also don’t elevate soccer moms over intellectuals (though on a Venn Diagram, one could be both, right?). But I also do not think that "intellectuals"--no matter how good they are at being intellectual or how many loons they crush in debate--necessarily make good statesmen. Very often, their intellectual drive makes them entirely unfit for the occupation. In the worst case, their intellectual acumen gives them a tyrannical impatience and impulse. Again, I do not idealize the collective wisdom of the people. But I fail to see how prodding at its weakness does anything other than push it along in the same misguided direction. I really hesitate to say this . . . but the seduction metaphor is so apt. Think of it this way: if your wife is gaining too much weight, how do you bring up that subject? Dare you bring it up? Tread lightly . . .

One could be both, but the term "soccer mom" generally implies an unsophisticated voter who follows the crowd and the media’s lead. There are also approximate male equivalents -- though it’s well established that men are better informed about politics.

Certainly intellectuals are not necessarily good statesmen. However, more of their qualities, including the impatience they often have, would be useful on the right in politics.

You’re right that criticizing the public when speaking to the public is rarely productive and is probably counterproductive. But again, this blog isn’t really "in public." It’s to clarify our own minds.

No, I don’t think there is a great difference in our views here.

Just to clarify: Contrary to the initial post, Morris in this column does not say the GOP nominee’s "clock is likely to be cleaned" by Shrillary. He says she is "likely to clean the floor in the other league," i.e. the Democratic contest.

Julie, yes, your seduction description is accurate. But it is also very much an ideal. Unfortunately, the GOP doesn’t have such an ideal candidate in the lineup. But then again, neither do the Democrats.

Men like Ronald Reagan don’t come around too frequently. They’re Heaven sent, and Heaven is apt to be economical with such a grace.

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