Wednesday, December 14, 2011

National Review: No on Newt!

National Review magazine has been my political compass for all of my adult life and I consider it the flagship of the conservative intelligentsia in this country. Founded by William F Buckley it led the Draft Goldwater movement in 1964. Today,it's editors came out against nominating Newt Gingrich as the Republican Presidential Nominee. The editors write in part:

....the White House seems winnable next year, and with it a majority in both houses of Congress, so that much of this conservative consensus could actually become law. A conservative majority on the Supreme Court, a halt to the march of regulation, free-market health-care policies: All of them seem within our grasp. But none of them is assured, and the costs of failure — either a failure to win the election, or a failure to govern competently and purposefully afterward — are as large as the opportunity.

We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity. We say that mindful of his opponents’ imperfections — and of his own virtues, which have been on display during his amazing comeback. Very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president. Gingrich himself has never run for a statewide office, let alone a national one, and has not run for anything since 1998. That year he was kicked out by his colleagues, the most conservative ones especially, who had lost confidence in him. During his time as Speaker, he was one of the most unpopular figures in public life. Just a few months ago his campaign seemed dead after a series of gaffes and resignations. That Gingrich now tops the polls is a tribute to his perseverance, and to Republicans’ admiration for his intellectual fecundity.....

Gingrich’s colleagues were, however, right to bring his tenure to an end. His character flaws — his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas — made him a poor Speaker of the House. Again and again he combined incendiary rhetoric with irresolute action, bringing Republicans all the political costs of a hardline position without actually taking one. Again and again he put his own interests above those of the causes he championed in public.

He says, and his defenders say, that time, reflection, and religious conversion have conquered his dark side. If he is the nominee, a campaign that should be about whether the country will continue on the path to social democracy would inevitably become to a large extent a referendum on Gingrich instead. And there is reason to doubt that he has changed. Each week we see the same traits that weakened Republicans from 1995 through 1998:

"I’d vote for Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform; Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform is radical right-wing social engineering; I apologize for saying that, and no one should quote what I said because I was wrong; actually, what I said was right all along but nobody understood me. I helped defeat Communism; anyone who made money in the ’80s and ’90s owes me; I’m like Reagan and Thatcher. Local community boards should decide what to do with illegal immigrants. Freddie Mac paid me all that money to tell them how stupid they were."

Enough. Gingrich has always said he wants to transform the country. He appears unable to transform, or even govern, himself. He should be an adviser to the Republican party, but not again its head.....

As Republican primary voters consider their choices, they should ask themselves several questions: Which candidate is most likely to make the race turn on the large questions before the country, and not his personal idiosyncrasies? Which candidate is most likely to defeat Obama? Who could, if elected, form an effective partnership with Republican leaders and governors to achieve the conservative agenda? We will render further judgments in the weeks to come as the candidates continue to make their cases and are, just perhaps, joined by new candidates. At the moment we think it important to urge Republicans to have the good sense to reject a hasty marriage to Gingrich, which would risk dissolving in acrimony

In the end if Newt gets the nomination he will have my undivided support. Even with all of his faults, he is vastly superior to Barack Obama. I believe the Republican Party, my party, should nominate Mitt Romney. He is not as conservative as I am but he gives us the best chance to beat Obama and be able to serve as a competent President. America can NOT take four more years of President Obama. We need competence.

To read the entire National Review editorial click on the title for a link.