Salim Mansur on Newt Gingrich: A Man Dirty Enough to Do the Job?
I've published Salim Mansur here on Ricochet before, and I always find his writing thoughtful. Salim yesterday sent me a letter about Newt Gingrich. Seeing in it some ideas (not all) that mirror my own confused thoughts about Newt, I asked him if I might publish it. He kindly consented, adding that he would welcome Ricochet's comments.
What are Ricochet's thoughts?
SALIM MANSUR: A View From The Moose Country Up North
On balance I am not persuaded by all the negatives dumped on Newt from folks such as the editors of the NRO. A couple of days before the SC vote Rush Limbaugh read a letter he received from one of his listeners. I paraphrase. The letter-writer spoke about Newt as an officer in an army in which the entire generation of Americans who are Newt's contemporaries came of age were privates. The letter-writer wrote that they, as Newt, did what they were asked to do. They smoked pot, engaged in pre-marital sex, cheered on anyone and anything that broke taboos of the earlier generation, got divorced, abandoned children or raised them in mixed families, practiced open marriage and, like Newt, now carry multiple wounds of that army of the "me" generation. So Newt knows all of this, has not hidden any of it, his life is an open documentary of that generation which screwed up everything that America at one time stood for.
And so now when correctives in spades are needed just to save America from keeling over as that Italian cruise liner, Newt knows what needs to be done. He has been in the boiler room. He has filth all over him. But he knows where the leaks are and how to plug them. And Newt will now do this even as he exasperates the people watching him, drive them crazy with the things he says, for now he knows how serious the situation is and he wants to save the cruise liner SS America for the future of his children and grandchildren as of all Americans is at stake.
Mitt has no clue of what happens in the boiler room. He is the clean white collar wonderfully cultivated man that once we knew as people who wore grey flannel suits. Times call for desperate actions from men who can dive into the boiler room and plug the leaks, and such is the present. This is why I have been talking about Newt. This is why the clean-collar folks in the MSM roundtables have such disdain for Newt. But not the women who have seen their husbands screw around, or who have also gone out to have good time of their own, for they roundly rejected Marianne's sob story. Such a story would make sense another time when the cruise liner would be on auto-pilot, the sky above cloudless and beautiful, and the sailing so serene that one would demand the captain on the ship be seen to be as clean and wonderful as Rock Hudson or Jimmy Stewart. Newt is our generation's Humphrey Bogart in the "African Queen."
This is why I am also reminded about Churchill, a man held in contempt by the clean-collar folks of his time till the cruise liner got sinking. And Churchill was the man of the hour, of the century, for he knew how to roar and rally the folks to "Keep Buggering On" as he famously said soon after he was appointed the PM. Here is another interesting point. Churchill was a historian, the sort of historian academic historians may hold in disdain, but the people instead love to buy their books and learn from those who bring history alive as a lived experience for the readers. Churchill made his living, or rather the bills required to pay for his habits, by writing his popular history books and they are damned good for I have read quite a few volumes. So when the time drew near for Britain to avert a bigger defeat since the Spanish armada, it was Churchill who was most prepared and understood what was needed.
Newt, like Churchill, is a historian. And he draws upon his knowledge of American history as a wizard to get the people roar with him. This is what is needed to blow away the gas bag in the White House presently. And I know legions of academics of all sorts, people who think they know it all because they can hold 20-year-olds in class rooms as hostages to their whims but could not get elected as a dog-catcher, will pour their acids on Newt. But where it counts, among the people on the ground and in the Republican primaries in the Red States where people are craving for the sight of someone knocking the beejesus out of the Saul Alinsky radical in the White House, Newt will score big.
I don't know if he will be able to get a war chest big enough to knock out Mitt – I suspect he will with people rallying around his candidacy – but he has the wind on his back, and he knows how to tack or, seeing this as a chess player, how to risk a gambit, he is well-poised to be the nominee. And once he is the nominee he will pivot for the general election, his base of conservative voters secure, to reach out to the once Reagan-Democrats in the key mid-west states for winning the critical number of 270 electoral college votes. If Newt does not drown himself while plugging leaks (there were all sorts of stories that Churchill continued to indulge in his drinks and that there were stand-by voice actors to read his speeches for the BBC during the war) then he will be America's 45th president. And he will be darn good, even though he will create quite a ruckus.
Someone pointed out recently that in all of the past century there has been only two Americans to balance the budget, while there have been any number of individuals who have walked on the moon, countless nonentities elected to the House and Senate, and more than a dozen elected to reside in the White House. But only two Americans in this past 100 years have balanced the budget. Now guess, who?
Calvin Coolidge. And.....
So after the G.O.P. primary voters have seen and heard from everyone, especially the pundits who have never gone down and sweated in the boiler room, it comes down to Newt with his flaws magnified and his achievements undeniable. If the G.O.P. primary voters are serious about a balanced budget, and then putting the American economy on a glide path to reduce the debt as quickly as is possible and reasonable under the circumstances, Newt knows how to stick handle these issues and deliver with the added advantage of having the skill and the bravado of sticking it to the liberal media. Ron Paul is a cult figure. Mitt is an establishment guy to keep the seat warm for the next G.O.P. establishment’s preferred candidate. Rick Santorum is a nice guy who finishes you know where. As good bridge players know so well, you play with the cards dealt not with the cards one wishes for.
Newt is the hand dealt in this election year. If he is de-railed, the chances are 50-50 or better for the Saul Alinsky radical to complete his mission of destroying America. Mitt, like McCain, has no idea how to out-jab and knock out a Saul Alinsky radical. Mitt thinks Obama is someone just over his head, and he as the man in a grey flannel suit with experience in business will make the case for capitalism and free enterprise, and keep the good old SS America sailing by mouthing canned stuff. I think not. I rest my case.