Hat in the Ring, or Just Old-Hat?

Will Newt Gingrich once again be savior of the Republican Party? More importantly, can he?

While he may not have thrown his proverbial hat in the ring officially, make no mistake about it — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be among Republicans vying for the GOP nomination and the chance to take on incumbent Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012.

Long before President Obama took a seat behind the Resolute Desk, and indeed long before the first vote was even cast five months ago yesterday, I predicted that a Barack Obama victory in 2008 could usher in 1992 all over again. After former President Bill Clinton’s victory over George H. W. Bush, two years of underperforming markets in part led to a radical change of the congressional power structure in 1994. Newt Gingrich and the Contract For America were at the middle of that Republican transformation — why couldn’t he be at the middle of a bigger sea change in 2012?

Every move the former House Speaker makes, whether in response to legislation spearheaded by current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or to speeches or promises made by President Obama, has become more and more calculated as the Democratic Party power base takes America further and further away from the principles set forth by our Framers. Gingrich is making no secret that he plans to inject himself into nearly each and every issue, and has done so artfully and reliably enough to garner attention from conservatives searching for a savior to deliver America from the overreaching policies and projects and plans put forth by Obama’s White House and Pelosi’s Congress.

Just today, for example, Gingrich appeared along with South Carolina Gov.–and likely challenger for the GOP nomination–Mark Sanford on Fox News Sunday where he weighed in on a number of issues, including but not limited to the recent ballistic missile test undertaken by North Korea. All that was missing from Gingrich’s answer? A podium, Barack Obama, a moderator, and a national television audience. From Politico.com:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told “Fox News Sunday” that he would have disabled the long-range missile before North Korea launched it, saying too many people “do not appreciate the scale of the threat that is evolving on the planet.”

“One morning, just like 9/11, there’s going to be a disaster,” Gingrich said. “I have yet to see the United Nations do anything effective with either Iran or North Korea.”

Reacting to President Barack Obama’s speech in Prague, Gingrich called the plan for a Global Summit on Nuclear Security a “wonderful fantasy idea,” saying Russia and other nations can’t be trusted.

“What are they going to promise, and why would we believe them?” Gingrich said. “It’s very dangerous to have a fantasy foreign policy, and it can get you in enormous trouble.”

Host Chris Wallace asked Gingrich: “So you’re saying that President Gingrich would have taken out that” missile?

Gingrich replied: “There are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities, to say: ‘We’re not going to tolerate a North Korean missile launch, period.’ I mean, the world’s either got to decide that North Korea is utterly dangerous … I’d recommend, look at electromagnetic pulse, which changes every … equation about how risky these weapons are.”

 

His “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” mantra became the focal point for Republicans when talk turned to energy issues during the recent presidential election. His book, Real Change, was released in 2008 and evoked, with a soothsayer’s precision, the underlying themes of both the election and its aftermath. His Web site, American Solutions, is reminiscent of an Internet destination developed by a man seeking office, providing an issue-by-issue breakdown of current problems and feasible solutions.

Make no mistake about it — Newt Gingrich will be running in 2012. The question, however, is whether he can win.

I don’t think so.

Obviously, while it cannot come soon enough, the 2012 presidential election is still quite a way off. Certainly, matters of geopolitical import can change overnight. However, my down-in-the-mouth attitude toward a Gingrich candidacy has nothing to do with his command of the issues, with his knowledge of facts, or with the obvious advantages and feasibility of his solutions. After all, if facts, solutions and issue focus mattered, I’m not sure America would be in the predicament she finds herself in now.

The problem with a Newt Gingrich candidacy, sadly, is perception. If Barack Obama were a normal president, given the circumstances we find ourselves in now and only imagining the circumstances in which we’ll me mired after another three years, it might be enough to tout a reversion back to policies which strengthen the United States in terms of our economy, our national security, our morality and more. In that case, appealing to the American public with a message rooted in common sense, optimism, cogent ideas and steadfast principles might be enough regardless of the delivery mechanism. Gingrich would certainly fit that mold. Barack Obama, however, is no normal president. He has followers, disciples, people for which no indiscretion is too egregious, no failure too sacrosanct so as not to be forgiven, or at worst blamed on someone else.

Newt Gingrich, hat in the ring or not, may simply–and sadly–be perceived as “old-hat.”

To win in 2012–not to mention in 2010–the GOP must be able to permeate the iron lung of messianic zeal created by the White House in partnership with the American mainstream press. For any Republican to prevail, confidence in The Chosen One must be shaken and questions must be raised. Those questions, however, cannot simply be raised to the American public, but rather by the American public.

How do you transform a public so willing to bestow divinity but equally unwilling to challenge it? It begins with empathy, and it begins with humility.

Genuine empathy and humility, and more precisely the extreme lack thereof in the American political landscape, is why Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was able to resonate with so many people last fall despite being admittedly in over her head on an issue-to-issue basis. She was the woman juggling a baby and a shopping list in your supermarket, the woman juggling a family, career and mortgage in the house next door. Palin truly may not have been prepared to assume the presidency, but she was your neighbor, your co-worker, your local PTA leader, and she certainly hadn’t failed at anything else.

Newt Gingrich is on the other side of that perceptional spectrum, so far removed from the contexts and concerns of everyday Americans that any amount of empathy and humility, no matter how genuine, will be received as anything but. The middle of that perceptional spectrum was found and dominated by former President Bill Clinton. Clinton, a likeable former Arkansas governor, wagged that smelly index finger at the television cameras and explained how he felt our pain — and millions believed it.

To win in 2012, the GOP must find and nominate a man or woman who similarly resides in the middle of that spectrum, neither too folksy nor too wonkish, someone who can project that genuine empathy and humility while simultaneously fostering the confidence that he or she can do the job and turn things around. Right now, it seems, the known entities among the Republican Party’s pre-season hopefuls find themselves on either one side or the other: Mitt Romney exudes know-how and elicits confidence but lacks commonality, Mike Huckabee resonates with everyday Americans but his flippant likeability and nanny state tendencies work against the inspiration of confidence, Newt Gingrich may have the specifics but he’s the consummate Washington insider, and Sarah Palin is Newt’s opposite.

Thankfully, the Republican Party has a wealth of solid conservatives from which to choose, people like Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Mike Pence, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Gov. Mark Sanford, Gov. Bobby Jindal and more, virtual unknowns to the American public able to be shaped and guided toward the middle of that perceptional spectrum without any compromise of principle.

And that, I think, is where Newt Gingrich fits in best. Gingrich should be the man in the candidate’s ear, the shadowy figure at stage left. There is no doubt that, 15 years ago, Gingrich was indeed at the forefront of the resurgence of conservatism in America — this time around, as instrumental as he must be the forefront must be inhabited by someone else.

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Comments

  1. CAL says:

    Newt does not have the likability factor so important now for a presidential candidate. You need someone with charisma to defeat Obama. Palin and Romney have that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great article, Jeff, and I think very accurate in your assessment of what the Republicans need in 2012. I believe that Obama has such an extensive network of support around the world….those who share his radical ideas and are the financial giants who are controlling and influencing the world economies and policies that it will take a consolidated Republican and conservative party that will work TOGETHER as one voice in order to defeat this agenda. I do think Newt is very intelligent and has a lot to offer as a leader or adviser to the next President. We have some other strong conservative leaders as you mentioned but we can’t wait long to zone in on some of these candidates because there will need to be much preparation as we begin to focus on the next election. Obama’s network is a force like we have never seen before and by 2012 he may have such a stanglehold on every aspect of our lives that it will be almost impossible to oust him and his throngs of thugs. We must become knowledgeable about what is going on…this video will give you a glimpse of what we are facing…you may not agree that everything in it is true but it will give you ideas to question and investigate and be aware of as this administration proceeds with its destruction of our American way of life…we must awaken the ordinary Americans who believed that Obama was their savior…I believe when they actually realize what the plan is, they will rise up against it….the site is:
    a4cgr.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/09-19/…it is over an hour long but watch all of it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would love to see someone as smart and conservative as Newt get the nomination–someone truly smart, not just I-went-to-Harvard-but-might-as-well-be-brain-dead. However, it is all going to depend on how bad things get with Obama. The 2012 elections will likely be a referendum on Obama. It also depends on the 2010 elections and how far Obama is allowed to go. God only knows we can’t see Obama go soon enough, but the country lost their collective mind to elect someone like Obama, and I am past predicting what they will do.

  4. goddessdivine says:

    I once heard someone say that Newt was the best president that never was. The guy would make a great POTUS, but is probably unelectable, as you point out. Which is a shame, because he is brilliant, articulate, and conservative. I would vote for him in a heartbeat. Guys like Newt can eat Obama for breakfast.

    Although let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. We still have 3 and a half more years (ugh!) of the Obamawan; plenty more damage to be done. This country will likely be in shambles by the time 2012 rolls around.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Jeff. Old Bob here.

    I love your blog, but I have to disagree on this one. Newt has baggage, I know, but he is the most articulate, consistant, and believable Republican out there at the present, as far as I’m concerned.

    Based on his Massachusetts governorship, Romney is not believable (and making a fortune running a hedge fund is not, in my opinion, the best business experience for a politician), Huckabee, I agree, is too parochial, Palin lacks the international gravitas (but I love her anyway), etc, etc. Winning is important, of course, but it’s not everything. I’m going to support the person that has demonstrated the experience, wisdom, and consistency to lead us through the extreme turbulence of the comming decade. So, until a better candidate shows up, which may well happen before ’12 gets here, I’ll throw in with Newt.

    Old Bob

  6. Bobby K says:

    I think Newt would be a very good choice, but there are some people who think he is to far to the right. he would be an excellent Sec of State, or Sec of defense, or a GOOD VP. either way I hope he runs to keep the others in line.. I would vote for Newt. this is only me

  7. Gail B says:

    Makes sense to me, Jeff. And this new conservative leader MUST have the charisma that overwhelmed the American voters in 2008.

    Newt has his closet skeleton which we older generation folks remember and would likely be reminded of in a campaign. He made his choice, a bad one at the time because of his position in politics, and I’m afraid it will come back to bite him.

    As you said, he would serve better as “the man in the candidate’s ear, the shadowy figure at stage left.” Then, maybe he could land a cabinet position for his better judgment.

  8. sharon says:

    I like Newt, besides, whatever they throw at him can be responded with:

    Do you want to see my birth certificate? Cause I got one.

  9. Claudia says:

    I would have voted for Newt without any reservations IF he would have run this last time, and he would have been a far better choice than McCain ever was.

    I like Newt, even though I remember all of his bad things that he still carries around as baggage, but am NOT bothered by that as much as I am about the “miniscule” little garbage bag that Obama says doesn’t ever really matter and we are wasting our time trying to find out about.

    Of all the candidates that I would like to see running, they are Newt, Romney and Palin to date, but I am leaving the door open for some bright newcomers. If none show up, then I will make my choice based on what happens during these next few years, or even IF we will ever have another election, (which is a distinct possibility we won’t – given Obama’s ambition and narcissism).

  10. Cole says:

    A wealth of conservatives? The mainstream Republican party is bankrupt on its concept of conservatism. The only conservative Republican is Ron Paul and the fact that he tells the truth mains him unpopular to a highly uninformed electorate. As a real conservative, I sincerely doubt I’ll be voting Republican for president. I didn’t in 2008 and I don’t plan to for 2012. Until the whole of the GOP can return to real conservatism, instead of only parroting the ideals when they’re the minority party, I’ll have nothing of them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    GINGRICH 2012…I see your point, Jeff, but I am so sick of the popularity contest, that I say…”To hell with charisma, smoke, and mirrors…I want someone who will put America first…not insult her in front of leftist idiots in foreign Townhall meetings, to do the job right, stay out of my wallet, stay out of the private sector, stay out of my child’s future, stay out of the UN,EU,G20…and stop kissing the a***s of terrorists!!! Period”! The Obama-mystique is becoming a vapor. Americans haven’t even suffered through 3 months of this garbage from Congress and the new administration, and already over 300 Tea Parties are scheduled nationwide. Houston is expecting 8,000. I’m just a layman, but I’m guessing that by 2012, the chances for someone like Newt…with all the characteristics you’ve mentioned…will be just exactly what Americans are looking for…needing…and will be p****-off enough to say…”CHANGE IT BACK”…with their vote. Newt can take him right here, right now!!!! Americans are already sick of this “hope and change” commie crap.
    Too many Americans voted for him based on that kind of eye-swirling mystique…independents and republicans included. I know some of them. It wasn’t a landslide victory! And, some 10 million rep’s didn’t vote at all. Isn’t that correct? We see those faces appearing at Tea Parties, as well as democrats, so, I think 2012 will be an angry vote, and Newt will be the perfect man to bring us back to where we belong. Several other names you mentioned…DeMint particularly…are also good choices. Nonethless…it will be an angry vote…not a glossy swirly-eyed vote, and I think we’ll see liberals in shock and awe!

  12. Linda says:

    I see your point, Jeff, but I have to agree with Anonymous “Ginrich 2012.” One of the problems with the Republican campaign (other than McCain not being the proper candidate) was the campaign itself. They failed to recognize that [unfortunately] 18 year olds are now voting; 18 year olds go to the internet for their info – and not the informative sites, the entertaining sites. The Repubs need to use those venues to their advantage, attack with their campaign and not put important issues “off limits.” They need rationale, facts, and logical presentation. I believe that Newt, with the proper campaign manager, can make such a presentation. I come in contact with many people here in Southern California and they are all ready to fight against what’s going on and go door-to-door if necessary to convince others. While I love Jindal, he’s not ready yet . . . and I emphasize yet because I believe that the time will come when he’ll see that this country needs him, and not just his state.
    I agree with Anonymous: “To hell with charisma, smoke, and mirrors…I want someone who will put America first…not insult her in front of leftist idiots in foreign Townhall meetings. . .” It sickens me to have a president of our country go overseas and apologize for our country and call us arrogant when it has been us, for decades, who have supported the rest of the world; who comes to their rescue financially and militarily. How quick they forget. The Islamic threat is a very real and scary one and we must fight against it and not just sugarcoat it with euphomistic names to divert the public’s attention.

    With diligence, the FEC will be more on top of their job in 2012 and stop the Black Panthers at the election places and investigate contributions more carefully. Many people who voted for this debacle are now beginning to see the light. We just need to keep them on the right track.

    We have the “I’ll keep my Guns, Money and Liberties, You Can Keep the Change” bumper stickers in our store and people are buying them daily.

    So, thanks for your very well thought-out article, but my money’s still on Newt.

  13. MaryAlice says:

    Newt would be a great contender in 2012. Old hat or not, he is the only person right now with the courage to come out and speak the truth. Just go back and read his statements, etc. He is the only person with the insight needed to lead. Go and look at all his work on Healthcare Transformation, American Solutions.com. His work on energy, his Statesmanship. He would be good as the President, as he truly cares about us, “we the people.” Sometimes you need the wisdom of the “old hat”, even if it is a little worn. He does see the future, and working hard for real solutions in all areas, Who else is doing this–no one.

  14. Still a Patriot says:

    Hi Jeff -
    Could you please define for me “flippant likeability” ?
    Thanks – Susan

  15. BORN IN THE U.S.A. says:

    Hey Newt, make a GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION, and post your birth certificate online. God, I just love Americans.

  16. COME TO THE WAKE says:

    R.I.P
    Liberty
    1776 – 2009

  17. CRAP DETECTOR says:

    “Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not – and will never be — at war with Islam,” Obama said in remarks delivered in Ankara. “In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject but also to strengthen opportunities for all people.”

    Obama’s declaration that the U.S. is not at war with Islam is certain to get huge play throughout the Arab world.

  18. vrajavala says:

    sadly Governor Jindal is nto a “natural born citizen”. Both parents were Indian immigrants at the time of his birth.

  19. suek says:

    >>They failed to recognize that [unfortunately] 18 year olds are now voting; >>

    The presidential election has become a national version of "American Idol".

    We're paying for that perception.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Very sad news about Bobby Jindal.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,

    I urge you, PLEASE, do further research on Bobby Jindal before endorsing him here on your site. Granted he appears to be a viable candidate, but he is INELIGIBLE to be President. BOTH of his parents were born on foreign soil. The Constitution is VERY clear on eligibility. Period!

    He gave up the opportunity to attend Harvard and Yale, opting for Oxford instead. His background is also steeped in community service. Sound familiar?

    While we like the picture we’ve seen of him, remember THE MEDIA has painted this picture of Jindal. A recent article I read on his background I found there are too many similarities between Jindal and Obama to suit me.

    A quick search of articles from mainstream news organization fails to mention he is NOT ELIGIBLE to become president. Clearly these “authors” are unfamiliar with the vetting process.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the presidency has become a National Idol contest. It’s been dumbed down to accomodate people who would list that show among their top favorites and also want a lot of free stuff from the government.

    Newt has more knowledge experience, and ability in one little finger than the Kenyan has or ever will have. But he wouldn’t be able to win because he just isn’t “cool” enough.

    I read online today (AOL I think) that Newt has implied that if the GOP doesn’t shape up and return to its core values, he and many conservatives will form a third party. Interesting but problematic from the standpoint of winning the next presidential election. Maybe I will find more about the third party topic later.

    JV

    Extra thought: Palin is too polarizing to be the candidate simply because of her religious disposition. She’s solid with social conservatives, but maybe too many foreign policy conservatives and fiscal conservatives would stay away from her. (Not every conservative belongs to all three categories, of course.)

  23. Anonymous says:

    When Obama has to show his birth certificate it will be another candidate the Republicans will be running against…hopefully BO doesn’t last until 2012!! That is what I am praying for!

  24. TNelson says:

    Newt is the thinking man’s candidate. Unfortunately, there are not that many of us who are able to think anymore. Seems the American public only wants someone who makes them feel good, not someone who can actually do the job.

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