A Philosopher's Blog


Posted in Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 23, 2011
Newt Gingrich

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As I write this, Newt is doing well in the polls. Earlier this year, it looked like Newt was done, but he has managed to apparently get back into the game. Of course, it is important to note that he has made gains as the other candidates have suffered losses in popularity. The polls do not seem to have a “none of the above” option, so perhaps his surge is simply do the fall of the others. That is, it is not so much that more people are really hot for Newt-it is just that they will check the Newt box in preference to the alternatives.

The general pattern for the Republicans has been a surge from one candidate followed by a fall after some self inflicted injury or other problem. Given this pattern, it is not unreasonable to expect Newt to last but a little while before he is brought down (or brings himself down). Newt does have a lot of established baggage and the media has been exposing more recent apparent problems, such as his multi-million dollar involvement with Fannie Mae. Naturally, he is trying to spin these problems and is being aided by the fine folks at Fox (while the merry minions at MSNBC go after him).

While Newt is clearly a person who has some dubious ethics, he is also a smart guy and a very experienced Washington insider. He is well connected to the established political machinery and has plenty of ties with big money. That is, he is a classic old school politician who knows the game and has the resources to play it well.

Give Newt’s abilities and resources, he does seem to have a chance of getting the nomination. Although Romney has been consistent in the polls (mainly because Romney has not done anything stupid on camera), Romney is not beloved by the base. With some shrewd political moves and some self-control (Newt has often proven to be his own worst enemy) Newt could squeak ahead enough to beat out Romney. In that case, I would expect to see Romney as the VP candidate. Another possibility is Romney as the presidential candidate and Newt as the VP.

Newt would stand up well against Obama in debates and Newt is generally adept at handling damage control. However, he would need to keep a tight rein on himself. But, I would be willing to say that he would have a shot at it. Obama would, obviously enough, easily defeat Perry, Bachmann or Cain in an actual debate. After all, they seem quite adept at defeating themselves-Obama would probably merely have to stand there and observe the self-destruction. Newt though is amphibian of a different stripe-he would stand up ably to Obama and could do quite well.

If Newt were elected, he would most likely be an old school politician in the way he would handle things. Newt knows how to use politics to his own enrichment and advantage and it seems reasonable that he would function as president much as he did as speaker. Given his experience as an insider and his intellectual abilities (plus what appears to be a lawful evil alignment) he would probably do quite well as a mostly pragmatic president. He would also parlay his election into massive personal gain after he left office-Newt is no fool and is in it to win it (for Newt).

That said, Newt might just burn out and hit the ground, like the others before him.

So, what do you think of Newt’s chances?

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12 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on November 23, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Newt has a lot of baggage, but may make it is as the un-Romney.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      He does have his lack of being Romney in his favor. If Newt was less mean, more compassionate, and had better self-control he’d do quite well. But, it is a testament to his capabilities that he is doing so well with the base despite things such as his affair(s).

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on November 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Newt is the best qualified “business as usual” politician. He’s as “insider” as they come. This shows we have truly reached rock bottom and have nowhere to go but up. There will be no 2012 election. It’s too late for “business as usual”. America, as we have known it, is over and done with. We will get what we deserve.

  3. billycstephens said, on November 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    This is a thoughtful analysis of a hair trigger politician. I agree with you that he is quick on his feet, but the recklessness will catch up with him. Right now, as a reader commented on the NY Times online in response to last night’s debate, the Republicans could probably stand a cardboard figure on the debate platform and it would poll higher than Romney.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      In many ways, Newt is almost a tragic hero: he has many fine virtues (smart, persistent, knowledgeable and so on) but has a fatal flaw that tends to bring him down. Romney does have it a bit rough-most of the base does not like him, but they like him more than Obama.

  4. magus71 said, on November 25, 2011 at 5:49 am

    If he makes it past Romney, Newt has at least a 50-50 chance of beating Obama. I want to see Newt debate Obama. Newt’s been saying over and over that he wants to debate the president and I think it would be a great show. I like the fact that these debates have separated the wheat from the chaff for the Republicans is a very good thing, and it shows that the debates are much better than merely listening to bias media pundits argue the points for the candidates.

    If Newt wins a debate with Obama, he wins the election. What impresses me most about Gingrich besides his obvious knowledge, is his fearlessness. He knows what people are going to come after him on, and he just plows ahead.

    Some Republicans (Pat Buchanan) say that Newt is left wing on key issues. But I don’t want perfection to be the enemy of good, which is what happened with Republicans in 2008 when McCain was demonized as not being conservative enough. That moment splintered the Republican party and severely hampered the GOP’s ability to come to a middle ground on issues because the conservative politicians saw what would happen if they appeared too un-conservative–they’d be cut off from their own party. We’re still seeing the results of the factionalism of 2008. Edmund Burke is rolling in his grave.

  5. dhammett said, on December 10, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Newt rolls on.
    Two observations:
    1/ The meme among Newt’s supporters is that he’s got baggage, but there’s nothing new in the bags—as if that makes the contents benign. The meme among a large portion of the Republican establishment is that Newt’s got a lot of baggage and that the contents are not benign. The contents can’t be ignored.
    2/ The campaign for President is a nationwide campaign. Newt’s campaigns prior to this run for the presidential nomination have been limited to Georgia. We’ve already seen signs that his current organization which only has to deal with relatively few states is weak and that his surge in the polls seems fueled by the failures of his opponents. If he’s going to succeed in 2012, he’s going to have to rummage through his baggage for something new that hasn’t been evident before—something like constancy.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      Newt does have an “advantage” in that he has done damage control on his old baggage so many times that he can do it in his sleep.

      • dhammett said, on December 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm

        Newt’s supporters, and many of his critics, praise his creativity: Ramesh Ponnunu writes “Gingrich’s energy and creativity are admirable, within limits.”
        I’d say that his “creativity” may be a major disadvantage. He’s proven in the past to be quite adept at creating new baggage. . . quickly and unexpectedly. Even he doesn’t seem to know when he’s creating a new “situation”. As Ponnunu continues: ” But recognizing his own limits is not a Gingrich specialty.”

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

          Newt has many virtues, but he has (as all his critics note) many classic vices. If he can keep himself in check, he has a shot at the nomination. But, unless he has really mastered self-control, he would have a rough time in the general election. Then again, he is the comeback kid this time around so maybe the gods of politics are smiling down on him.

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