Remember when I said Gingrich was having a hard time catching a news cycle? Well, the problem lasted until about 10 minutes after I published the thought. First it was health care (even one of Romney’s worst critics on the matter said Newt made Mitt look good.) , and that blew into a complete Paul Ryan beef. Then there were personal issues old and new. Serious sarcasm ensued. Clearly Mr. Gingrich does not know the first rule of holes.
“The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.”
That response indicates two very important things. The first is that Gingrich is having a hard time distinguishing his old role as a thinker/pundit/commentator and his new role as a candidate. The former snipes at the press, the latter rises above them. Secondly, the ego evident in such a response is unbecoming in a candidate.
Gingrich is damaged goods – has been for quite a while. It must be remembered that he did not retire from the House, he resigned, with egg on his face. Is political redemption possible? Of course it is – insert your Winston Churchill thought here – but clearly Newt has not learned the lessons that Churchill learned while in the wilderness, nor are circumstances nearly as dire as they were when Churchill was asked to form a government. It seems clear to me is that Gingrich is still viewed as damaged goods and he is not helping change that view.
It is very early and few people are actually paying attention, so he can still survive, but I do think that at this point he will be actively opposed by a number of people that are in a position to do him very serious damage. I am not yet prepared to say he cannot win, but I will say such would take political skill far in excess of what he has demonstrated up to this point.
Speaking of Early…
People seem to be in a hurry to declare Republicans “unhappy with the field.” They see silly weaknesses in all the possibilities. They point out that Romney, even with a clear polling lead (told you so) lacks “stalwart support.” Come on people! Romney is still officially only exploring, the field is far from set. It’s a competition for crying out loud. The idea is for someone to win and build a coalition – we are not even close to there yet. There is an actual process involved.
But, of course, they are not interested in reporting that, they are interested in establishing a narrative – a framework on which they can build the story of the Republican primary season. The framework may or may not actually fit the facts, but that’s not necessarily what they are interested in. This is the media which, despite now obvious and huge flaws, is in a swoon over Obama. They are not above using the normal process to paint us as discontented and dysfunctional.
Publicity leech. Wait – that’s unkind to leeches.
The real discussion centers on the article last week comparing Romney and Huntsman’s “strains of Mormonism.” It was in the New Republic and clearly an attempt at mischief, yet it got enough readership that TNR doubled down. The matter was made much worse by the fact that some serious Mormons treated it like a serious discussion. Such articles and their related commentary never really get religion. I don’t care if its about “strains of Mormonism” or discussing the differences between evangelical and denominational Protestantism. People are individuals and while statistic generalizations are possible when it comes to examining potential candidates those generalizations are meaningless – those individuals and their individual stances, thought, piety and everything else is what is at stake. Discussion like this are a diversion, trying to get us to look at the generalizations instead of the individuals.
There was also a minor league attempt to resurrect the “Mormons lie” meme without calling it by name – instead blaming it on a whole wing of the Republican party. I don’t think this guy understands American democracy.
Which leads me to the one great piece that appeared on the issue this week. Jeremy Lott spoke at a symposium recently on the question, “Should traditional Christians be comfortable supporting Mormon candidates for office?” His remarks were reprinted in Patheos.
Allow me to answer the question with another one: “Why should they not be comfortable supporting Mormon candidates?” So far as I am concerned, the only legitimate answer is not a sectarian one.
There may indeed be good grounds to oppose a Mormon candidate for office. Yet they ought to be the same grounds that you would use to oppose someone from your own religious tradition. Random traditional Christian voter X should not vote for Mormon candidate Y for the same reason that he would not for a Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish candidate—because you disagree with the candidate about political matters of great import.
Mitch Daniels continues to be coaxed, prodded, and anticipated. Jon Huntsman really is unexamined. Bachmann may be pushing up her decision date, but if she is being pushed by Pat Buchanan, I know pretty much all I need to
And now Rick Perry rumors are emerging. While the Republican party is far from in the disarray that the media would have us believe, there is a small group of people searching for Candidate Perfect. Guess what folks, Candidate Perfect does not exist. Perry and Christie can sound the way they sound because they have their states behind them – but do you think they would honestly sound that way running on a national level when they need votes from California and Massachusetts? Let’s be real here. These guys have a great future ahead in talk radio – they have that down pat. But national candidacy requires a bit more finesse.