Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sympathetic to Newt But Still for Santorum

Over the past few weeks, establishment conservatives (George Will, the National Review, et al) have increased the ferocity of their jihad against Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid.

It is surprising to see so much vitriol aimed at the leader of the national conservative counter-revolution after the country club wing of the party practically surrendered the White House to Bill Clinton and seemed to be in no hurry to end a GOP exile from control of Congress that dated back to the Eisenhower administration.

Is the anti-Newt frenzy sparked by a personal vendetta or concerns about his electability?

If the latter, I don’t understand the panic since the party has been represented by far worse than Gingrich in previous elections.

Take John McCain.


McCain championed a plan that increased the “established” media’s role in “interpreting” federal elections while simultaneously handicapping Republicans’ financial capacity to compete against Democrats, to say nothing of his campaign finance legislation’s infringements on the First Amendment.

But McCain has never let principle get in the way of a favorable write-up. And come 2008, we found out who was the real useful idiot to whom.

After emerging from a relatively brisk primary battle (it was over after Florida- the eighth contest on the GOP calendar), McCain promptly bided his time, not preparing for the general election or initiating a running mate vetting operation.

In a move that was tantamount to giving his Democratic opponent a spread, McCain stubbornly refused to recognize the obsolescence of matching funds and chose to not make the effort of competing with Barack Obama in general election fundraising, believing that the Democratic nominee’s recanting on an obscure pledge would trump a severe financial disadvantage.

At the end of the day, it could be said that Hillary Clinton worked harder to stop Obama from becoming president than the Republican nominee.

Gingrich would have to campaign in a powdered wig and breeches to be anywhere in the same zip code as the disastrous McCain campaign.

I have a tough time believing that the driving force behind the Republican take over of Congress would be any worse of a nominee than McCain, Bob Dole, Bush 41 or Barry Goldwater (who was agreeable in principle but disagreeable as a politician).

And to futurist’s credit he had the foresight to see exactly what George H.W. Bush would reap politically with his tax deal with the Democrats. That old man Bush has embraced Romney and recently publicly “tut-tutted” Gingrich for taking issue with the “Read My Lips” repeal exhibits the former House speaker’s conservative credentials.

That said Newt Gingrich is not my first choice for the Republican nomination. And he’s not my second either.

And if I find myself eventually supporting Gingrich in the course of the primary calendar, it will be because I consider him a superior alternative to others and not because he is a good candidate.

He’s not and that’s why I am supporting someone else not named Ron Paul or Mitt Romney.

Former Pennsylvania US Senator Rick Santorum remains the most consistent, credible and accomplished conservative in the Republican presidential field. Thus Santorum remains my choice for the Republican nomination.

Santorum was part of the Gingrich Revolution in Washington but unlike the movement’s leader, the young senator proved to possess the self-discipline to effectively advance conservative causes in the halls of Congress if not always in the limelight.

Though Santorum is a longshot, he’s also the best choice. As a conservative not tied into the system, I have no problem betting on the side that ends up losing so long as it’s the right side.

Santorum represents a very different visual for conservatism and of all the candidates seeking the GOP nod. In terms of his national image Santorum’s a blank slate who has not been unflatteringly framed by the media or by mush-mouthed debate performances or high profile gaffes.

And while nominating Santorum does not in itself lock up the Keystone State for the GOP, his presence on the ticket will make Pennsylvania competitive, taking the fight to the Democrats’ turf.

Santorum has wagered all of what few chips he has on a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Due to the expectations game, he does not necessarily have to win that contest- just do better than Minnesota US Representative Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Only one of the three self-described social conservatives will be going on to New Hampshire without a pronounced death rattle.

Iowa Republicans a huge favor on caucus day by not creating the Paul-Romney duel that will inevitably lead to the latter’s nomination by stepping up for Santorum.

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