Ever since the media started the game of guessing who the current ‘not-Romney candidate’ is in the GOP field, they’ve enjoyed playing it. Perry and Cain have gone in and out of the revolving door to that game room, but who could the serious challenger be, pundits have been wondering.
Sooner or later they were bound to notice Newt Gingrich. In round after round of GOP debates, sponsored and televised by different media outlets but largely run the same, news cycles focused mostly on who won, who got the better of whom, which ‘gotcha’ questions or zinger answers stood out and whether Perry or Cain did as well as or better than Romney. But consistently, the sharpest responses were coming from Gingrich.
So it seemed inevitable that he’d rise a bit in the polls. Still, Dorothy Rabinowitz’s op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal was an attention grabber, starting with its headline ‘Why Gingrich Could Win.’
The Gingrich effect showed dramatically at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum last month—an occasion for which most of the candidates had, not surprisingly, prepared addresses focused on the importance of religion in their lives…
There were two exceptions to the lineup of speeches embracing religious themes. One was Herman Cain, who concentrated on the meaning of American freedom and admonished the crowd to stay informed, “because stupid people are running America.” The other was Mr. Gingrich. No one else’s remarks would ignite the huge response his talk did.
He began with the declaration that Americans were confronting the most important election choice since 1860. America would have the chance in 2012, Mr. Gingrich said, to repudiate decisively decades of leftward drift in our universities and colleges, our newsrooms, our judicial system and bureaucracies.
He would go on to detail the key policies he would put in place if elected, something other Republican candidates have done regularly to little effect. The Gingrich list was interrupted by thunderous applause at every turn. The difference was, as always, in the details—in the informed, scathing descriptions of the Obama policies to be dispatched and replaced, the convincing tone that suggested such a transformation was likely—even imminent.
Now this is interesting:
Finally, Mr. Gingrich announced that as the Republican nominee he would challenge President Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates. “I think I can represent American exceptionalism, free enterprise, the rights of private property and the Constitution, better than he can represent class warfare, bureaucratic socialism, weakness in foreign policy, and total confusion in the economy.”
I’d love to see those debates happen. Who wouldn’t?
His greatest asset lies in his capacity to speak to Americans as he has done, with such potency, during the Republican debates. No candidate in the field comes close to his talent for connection. There’s no underestimating the importance of such a power in the presidential election ahead, or any other one.
Why has he largely been overlooked or marginalized until now? Partially because the media control the narrative and create the perception that becomes the reality, and they’ve been negative on the former House Speaker since the nineties.
But in part, many of Gingrich’s fellow Catholics have personal issues with him as the ‘ideal candidate’, though they don’t necessarily find one in the rest of the field either. There’s an interesting exchange on this over on CatholicVote.org’s blog.
The first post was by Josh Mercer.
Right now we are in the middle of a national debate on what the nature of marriage is. The Republican Party’s platform calls for keeping marriage solely as a union of one man and one woman. President Obama, by stark contrast, has refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and he has strongly opposed state marriage amendments.
Imagine what supporters of same-sex marriage will say if Newt Gingrich becomes the GOP nominee? “Newt Gingrich has been married three times, but he won’t let gays get married once.”
Is that fair? Maybe not. Does it matter if it’s fair? No.
Just so everyone is clear. I think there’s no doubt that Newt Gingrich is a brilliant man, with considerable talents. I think he would make a great Special Adviser to the President. I just have deep reservations of him becoming the standard bearer of the Republican Party.
Tom Crowe replied.
We believe that marriage is, by definition, between one man and one woman, and that this definition is unchangeable. Newt’s offense is in having three different wives, all of whom are still alive.
But given a culture that accepts divorce, and recognizing that until his 2009 conversion he accepted this bug of our culture, his offense was not against what we are at present trying to defend in law regarding marriage—after all, he only had one wife at a time, and all of his wives were women. As Catholics we hold that divorce is a severe problem…
But in today’s fight to defend marriage we are not fighting the divorce fight.
Since the case we’re making at present is not against divorce, Newt’s marital issues are not a reason for him to recuse himself from the battle over marriage. Nor, in my opinion, are they a good enough reason for us to hesitate to support him as a standard bearer. He’s flawed, just like the rest of us. Opponents will undoubtedly use them as a cudgel with which to beat him about the head and shoulders, but I think that line of attack will have limited traction, especially if we at whom it is aimed shrug it off as a red herring “gotcha” attack. And it certainly will not throw Gingrich off his message—he wouldn’t be running if he and his wife didn’t expect that sort of criticism.
Those who ardently push for gay marriage do not honor the “man and woman” part of the definition, nor do they think divorce is particularly a problem, given the separation rate among gay couples, including the “marriages” that have taken place in those jurisdictions that have approved gay marriage laws. And you’re not going to win over those who simply reject the traditional definition of marriage anyhow, even if your candidate married his high school sweetheart at 20 years old, is still madly in love, and hasn’t even looked at another woman since.
I’m often asked which GOP candidate I think is best, and I don’t know. I’m still listening, closely.
But I do think this…Now that the standard objections to Gingrich are being aired and addressed, it would be great to get to some Lincoln-Douglas style debates over the size and role of government, what constitutes a free, just and moral society, America’s place in the world, and how best to lead…and serve.