GINGRICH AND THE "REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT"
There were many responses to my last blog about Newt Gingrich. Most readers interpreted it as support for his candidacy. My intention was little more than to compare his style of leadership to Andrew Jackson's.
Old Hickory once remarked without a trace of dissimulation, "After 8 years as president, I have only two regrets. That I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun." These words do more than hint at the seventh president's ruthless and pertinacious leadership.
Fast forward to our own troubled times, in which failed Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, pictured at right, recently wrote that Newt "was a one-man band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway." Actually, this criticism of the Speaker highlights the leadership style at issue.
As Dole's criticism further suggests, the so-called "Republican establishment" is wary of Newt. It's hell-bent on derailing his presidential campaign in Florida and everywhere else. Tom Delay, at left, who served in the House leadership during the Speaker's tenure, recently maintained that "he [Gingrich] is not really a conservative."
The acerbic Ann Coulter, bottom right, also stated that Gingrich is "the least electable" of the Republican candidates. She went on to defend reporter John King's question to Gingrich about his ex-wife and, in tandem with Glenn Beck, pointed a protuberant finger at Newt's big ego. Interesting.
What's going on? Is it that Newt Gingrich is a counterfeit conservative? I don't think so. He is a pro-life candidate, who has promised to cancel taxpayer subsidies of all abortions by repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, and banning aid to organizations which promote or perform abortions overseas. He favors draconian penalties, like those in Singapore, for drug smugglers who import their illicit wares into the United States. He once went so far as to propose legislation that would make it mandatory for recidivist smugglers to receive the death penalty. He supports constructing a wall between this country and Mexico. He opposes activist judges who tear at the fabric of American culture, and he reserves the option of advocating the abolition of particular federal courts, like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. These, as well as most other of his political positions, play well to conservatives. One would be hard pressed to find a progressive touting them. The view that Gingrich is not a conservative ignores much important data.
Now what about Newt's ego? How successful do you think a national politician would be if he were timid in the face of criticism or otherwise meek and mild? And who, pray tell, has a more inflated ego than Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck? Doesn't their critique remind you of two pots calling the kettle black? Their referring to Gingrich's over-sized ego is disingenuous and hypocritical, a cheap shot.
So, again, what's going on? I think that I have an inkling. The Republican establishment does not like Newt Gingrich because he's not a team player. You see, he doesn't sit patiently by and wait for men like Dole to telephone with advice, or treat seriously the intellectual insights of retired pest-foggers like Delay, or listen to the arguments of a virago like Coulter, or yearn for historical "insight" from Beck. Gingrich simply fails to give the proper deference to stalwarts of the establishment, and it's catching up with him too. As is often the case with dazzlingly brilliant people who possess a desire to govern, Gingrich has a low threshold of tolerance. Other visionaries have suffered from the same "flaw." I'm thinking particularly of Alexander Hamilton, whose genius was a double-edged sword. It catapulted him to greatness, while causing him to be impulsively plain-spoken and eventually shot to death by Aaron Burr, a political adversary.
A fact in my last blog bears repeating: anti-establishment candidates, especially those running for President of the United States, are generally unsuccessful. Why is that? It's because establishment personalities find themselves threatened and then trumpet caution to rank and file voters, who in turn become unnerved and afraid. Grassroots support dries up quicker than a dead lizard in the Mohave desert. "All this," you point out, "is nothing but politics."
Perhaps so. Yet the problem is that "politics as usual" will not turn this country around. Neither, I assure you, will an avuncular 76-year old backbench Libertarian who has observed the inner-workings of government from approximately the same distance as the ordinary citizen. What does he know about wielding power, since he's never done it? Nor can we expect a Massachusetts moderate to turn the massive ship of state around. The primary, most essential requirements for the presidency should be something more than a candidate's fabulous wealth and his unfettered desire to seek the presidency in order to realize a personal ambition in life.
No, at this juncture, the country requires an accomplished political professional, who is light-years beyond the amateur ranks. He should possess conservative ideals along with the know-how to implement his ideals by Machiavellian means. We need, in other words, a President who is as tough as leather, impatient with business as usual, and dedicated to standing up against and, if necessary, giving the back of his hand to the nation's enemies at home and abroad. Nothing else will do, because nothing else will work.
Do I think Gingrich is the person for the job? I'm not sure. I'm still listening. But I do realize one indubitable truth. If he's elected, he will be subject to a strict mandate for restoration. He will be expected to restore (1) a healthy degree of freedom to the markets, (2) the correct constitutional balance contemplated by the founders between the judicial and the other two branches of government, (3) outsourced jobs, (4) fiscal integrity and economic prosperity, (5) America's place in the world as a "shining city on a hill," (6) the pre-eminence of the English language, (7) the rule of law over immigration matters, and (8) unapologetic assimilation of newcomers to traditional American culture, which is not synonymous with but profoundly informed by the Christian religion. This is the mandate by which the next Republican President will live or die politically. If he fails, or ventures too far therefrom, his bid for re-election will be jeopardized. To any politician, the prospect of a failed re-election is tantamount to bankruptcy to a banker and shipwreck to a seafarer. It is to be avoided at all costs.
How many times an individual has been married, or whatever skeletons he may have in his political closet are largely irrelevant. The only question is, can and will the candidate satisfy the mandate? I suggest that Republicans nominate the person who is most qualified, ready, and willing to do that. And, then, they should hold him firmly to it.
If one's neighborhood is on fire, a genuine firefighter is necessary. He may not possess a high personal morality. He may be short-tempered, intolerant, and brazen in conversation. But if he can extinguish the conflagration threatening to devour the neighborhood, he is the person we need. Am I missing something here?
I can't imagine a more important election than the ensuing one. I hope that, whomever the Republicans nominate, that person will receive the party's unflinching and unwavering support. There may be no second chances.
January 29, 2012