Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Gingrich Uncertainty Principle

 

In 1927 the physicist Werner Heisenberg famously postulated that an observer can know either the position or momentum of a subatomic particle, but not both simultaneously.

The position of Newt Gingrich, political particle, is generally the object of voter measurement–right now securely ensconced in the orbit of the tea party–but Gingrich’s momentum is the fascinating unknown, indeed unknowable, variable.  In the past, we have been unable to predict where he is headed politically, and we therefore have no sure basis to predict where he is headed next.

This wasn’t supposed to take quantum mechanics to figure out. 

The campaign narrative of my dreams runs this way: Newt Gingrich, prodigal conservative, hero of the Contract With America, returns from his K Street exile, donning the mantle of Reagan and offering a limited government alternative to a public weary of temporizing ratifiers of Marxist thought.  Sweeping the pretenders before him, securing a nomination thought unattainable, Newt swiftly and surely defeats a billion-dollar Obama campaign mistakenly calibrated for battle against a private equity executive likely to be found in a defensive crouch.

It’s a great narrative.  If I were a liberal I’d stop here. The dream shall never die, right? Unfortunately, as John Adams pointed out, facts are stubborn things. 

And the fact is, many true-blue conservatives with a great deal of first-hand Gingrichian lore at their command are taking us to school about our favorite lapsed history professor.  The title of American Spectator founder R. Emmett Tyrell’s piece in the Sun today, “William Jefferson Gingrich,” pretty much says it all.

After Newt’s and Bill’s disastrous experiences in government both went on to create empires, Bill in philanthropy and cheap thought, Newt in public policy and cheap thought. As an ex-president Bill has wrung up an unprecedented $75.6 million since absconding from the White House with White House loot and shameless pardons. I do not know how much Newt has amassed, but he got between $1.6 million to $1.8 million from Freddie Mac, and he lobbied for Medicare Part B while receiving, according to the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, “Big Bucks Pushing Corporate Welfare.” Now after a lifetime in Washington he is promoting himself as an outsider.

Meanwhile, over at National Review, Elliott Abrams, an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan Administration, observes that Gingrich, who constantly compares himself to Reagan today, was less complimentary at the time.

Gingrich scorned Reagan’s speeches, which moved a party and then a nation, because “the president of the United States cannot discipline himself to use the correct language.” In Afghanistan, Reagan’s policy was marked by “impotence [and] incompetence.” Thus Gingrich concluded as he surveyed five years of Reagan in power that “we have been losing the struggle with the Soviet empire.” Reagan did not know what he was doing, and “it is precisely at the vision and strategy levels that the Soviet empire today is superior to the free world.”

There are two things to be said about these remarks. The first is that as a visionary, Gingrich does not have a very impressive record. The Soviet Union was beginning to collapse, just as Reagan had believed it must. The expansion of its empire had been thwarted. The policies Gingrich thought so weak and indeed “pathetic” worked, and Ronald Reagan turned out to be a far better student of history and politics than Gingrich.

Adding fuel to the foreign policy fire, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, no establishment moderate, has endorsed Mitt Romney, even though Newt earlier promised to appoint Bolton secretary of state in a Gingrich Administration.

I have previously criticized Mitt Romney for distancing himself from “Reagan-Bush” during his 1994 race against Ted Kennedy.  However, Newt arguably one-upped him by failing to support President Reagan when it mattered.

And of course, there’s Ann Coulter’s support for Mitt Romney to consider.

What to do?  I am experiencing something very unusual for me, very quantum mechanical:  I’m uncertain.

There are 63 comments.

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  1. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If you’re looking at red meat endorsements, I’d like to add Justice Bork to the list of important views to consider.

    • #1
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:25 AM PST
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  2. Profile Photo Member

    Why, oh why, do we care what Ann Coulter thinks?

    • #2
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:33 AM PST
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  3. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    What to do? I am experiencing something very unusual for me, very quantum mechanical: I’m uncertain. · · 12 minutes ago

    That’s two of us, George.

    • #3
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:34 AM PST
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  4. flownover Member

    Welcome to the club. I note that Heisenberg is the name that Walt White used in his dealings with Tuco in Breaking Bad. Now I know that ,but Salim’s words are ringing in my ears this morning.

    • #4
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:37 AM PST
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  5. Noesis Noeseos Inactive

    What to do, indeed. If somebody convinced me that Newt just can’t win over independents/moderates and the only hope for beating Obama was to nominate Romney, I’d capitulate but in vast distaste. I wouldn’t send Romney’s campaign a dime before mid October and much less then than I would to Newt’s.

    • #5
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:38 AM PST
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  6. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are Precious Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I agree with everything you wrote George. Right now, Newt looks like the Master of Disaster and the captain of the ship in his very own Poseidon Adventure (an Irwin Allen production I may note) off the coast of Florida, heading to the head of the Warren Buffet line after tossing some red meat to the crowds in the form of a Ralph Kramden style Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore moonshot. If he has any more interviews like he did on Spanish language television, he’ll be trying to convince us that someone from a rival campaign snarfed at least one scoop of strawberry ice cream from the Captain’s quarters.

    We’re watching our very own version of The Biggest Loser and we’re faced with the picking the guy who — if he can’t ever reboot — causes the least damage to chances in the House and Senate races. Make mine a double.

    • #6
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:39 AM PST
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  7. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    The thing that really scares me is that Newt seems a plausible alternative to Romney. What does this say about Romney? I feel like the bully is asking the age old question: head or gut.

    • #7
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:44 AM PST
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  8. Profile Photo Member

    Give Santorum another look, folks.

    You may say, he doesn’t have a chance. That’s what we all thought about Gingrich, and really, almost each and every one of the candidates that have ridden this roller coaster at one point or another. When we break out of the mold that the latest poll numbers attempt to impose on our perceived options, we can change the poll numbers themselves.

    We have a bunch of flawed candidates, including Santorum. What choice do we have other than to pick the one with the least issues?

    • #8
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:46 AM PST
    • Like
  9. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are Precious Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Chris Deleon: Give Santorum another look, folks.

    You may say, he doesn’t have a chance. That’s what we all thought about Gingrich, and really, almost each and every one of the candidates that have ridden this roller coaster at one point or another. When we break out of the mold that the latest poll numbers attempt to impose on our perceived options, we can change the poll numbers themselves.

    We have a bunch of flawed candidates, including Santorum. What choice do we have other than to pick the one with the least issues? · 1 minute ago

    Happy Days aren’t here again, and right now I’m waiting to hear what Stinky Pete has to say.

    • #9
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:48 AM PST
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  10. Mel Foil Inactive

    The difference between Gingrich and Romney is that Gingrich sees the bigger picture, because he’s looking. How Gingrich reacts to seeing that bigger picture is sometimes up in the air, but at least he sees it. What is it that Romney sees? Polling.

    • #10
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:49 AM PST
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  11. Profile Photo Member
    The King Prawn: The thing that really scares me is that Newt seems a plausible alternative to Romney. What does this say about Romney? I feel like the bully is asking the age old question: head or gut.

    The thing that saddens me is that this race is really being determined by money right now. Romney has it in spades; Gingrich has just enough to challenge him; and Santorum is being left out in the cold.

    Is it too idealistic of me to hope that enough people would look at the candidates on their own merits and not based on ads paid for by people with a clear bias?

    (And by extension, not based on poll numbers that reflect the decisions of others reacting to such ads?)

    • #11
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:51 AM PST
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  12. Viator Inactive
    Viator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nancy Reagan 1995: Ronnie turned that torch over to Newt

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec_Nunb6izo

    • #12
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:52 AM PST
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  13. Leigh Member

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there were simple policy differences to choose between rather than playing guessing games about who we mistrust least?

    Apart from the “baggage” my process of thinking went something like this:

    1) Who’s more likely to get elected? I don’t quite buy the Great Debate Theory. Advantage Mitt.

    2) If elected, who’s more likely to repeal Obamacare? Advantage neither or very slightly Gingrich. I think Romney can do the math and figure out that no repeal = no reelection. Plus he’s getting more aggressive and confident in going after Obamacare. I think that Newt would probably make the case against it more effectively, but I don’t have any more confidence in his follow-through.

    3) If elected, who’s more likely to push for serious entitlement reform — particularly Medicare? Advantage Romney. Newt blew this one.

    • #13
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:55 AM PST
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  14. Profile Photo Member
    Leigh: Thing is, it’s a guessing game. Who do you mistrust least?

    Apart from the “baggage” my process of thinking went something like this:

    1) Who’s more likely to get elected? I don’t quite buy the Great Debate Theory. Advantage Mitt.

    2) If elected, who’s more likely to repeal Obamacare? Advantage neither or very slightly Gingrich. I think Romney can do the math and figure out that no repeal = no reelection. Plus he’s getting more aggressive and confident in going after Obamacare. I think that Newt would probably make the case against it more effectively, but I don’t have any more confidence in his follow-through.

    3) If elected, who’s more likely to push for serious entitlement reform — particularly Medicare? Advantage Romney. Newt blew this one.

    Excuse me, but there are still others in this race. And as we’ve seen before, with Newt himself, it’s not too late for the tables to turn drastically. We lose when we lock ourselves down to just the two (current) frontrunners.

    • #14
    • January 26, 2012, at 7:58 AM PST
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  15. Diane Ellis Contributor

    Well, Drudge certainly seems to despise Newt. More than half of the stories on the Drudge Report as of this writing are negative Newt stories.

    • #15
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:05 AM PST
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  16. Leigh Member
    Chris Deleon

    Excuse me, but there are still others in this race. And as we’ve seen before, with Newt himself, it’s not too late for the tables to turn drastically. We lose when we lock ourselves down to just the two (current) frontrunners. · 2 minutes ago

    I’d much rather have a Santorum-Romney race, personally. It might be a campaign about actual issues. Unless Newt implodes very soon in a big way and his support goes to Santorum, my guess is it’s too late.

    • #16
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:10 AM PST
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  17. Michael Tee Inactive

    <sigh>

    Our own Peter Robinson had an answer to Eliot Abrams piece.

    I think a good summation is found in the comments section of the article:

    When you evaluate that against Mr. Abrams, one of Jim Baker’s inner circle, this anti-Newt propoganda falls right into place. Bob Dole, Bush 41, Jim Baker, and legions of other RINO squishes are still holding a 30-year old grudge over Newt fighting moderates off of Reagan’s coattails. Additionally, they’ve still never forgiven Newt for subverting Bush 41’s biggest tax increase proposals in the early 1990’s. That Newt is simultaneously winning massive support from real working folks while inside-the-beltway Republicans are drawing out their most venomous anti-Newt rhetoric is no coincidence at all. All you have to do is go back over all the old rivalries in Reagan’s White House to understand where this anti-Newt fury is coming from.

    In addition, there’s this and this and this.

    • #17
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:10 AM PST
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  18. Pilli Inactive

    Me too, George. And I have to vote for one of these guys Tuesday.

    • #18
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:12 AM PST
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  19. Lockdowns are Precious Inactive
    Lockdowns are Precious Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Just when you thought it was safe to back in the Florida water, this:

    If Republicans, in their fervor to rid the White House of Barack Obama, are yet again experiencing The Temptation of Newt, then Democrats have only one illogically rational response in this modern American political hall of mirrors.

    Its Bill. Man the lifeboats.

    • #19
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:15 AM PST
    • Like
  20. Mel Foil Inactive
    Diane Ellis, Ed.: Well, Drudge certainly seems to despise Newt. More than half of the stories on the Drudge Report as of this writing are negative Newt stories. · 6 minutes ago

    Drudge is not an analyst. In his niche, he relies on access to people in the know. If you rely on that access, there’s sometimes a price to pay. Maybe today’s price is Newt’s head on a plate.

    • #20
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:15 AM PST
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  21. Profile Photo Member
    etoiledunord
    Diane Ellis, Ed.: Well, Drudge certainly seems to despise Newt. More than half of the stories on the Drudge Report as of this writing are negative Newt stories. · 6 minutes ago
    Drudge is not an analyst. In his niche, he relies on access to people in the know. If you rely on that access, there’s sometimes a price to pay. Maybe today’s price is Newt’s head on a plate. · 1 minute ago

    I’ve seen pro-Newt and anti-Newt stuff on Drudge. It depends on the day. More than caring about the outcome, Drudge seems to enjoy playing with his influence, to see how much he can swing public opinion.

    Someone like Groseclose should analyze Drudge’s stories about each candidate, both pro and con, and measure how much the polls follow Drudge’s moods. I’m guessing the results would be very flattering to Drudge’s ego and not so much to that of many of us who read his site. Yes, I’m admitting I am also influenced, probably more than is good for me, by what I see on Drudge. When I see it happening, it’s disturbing.

    • #21
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:20 AM PST
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  22. Viator Inactive
    Viator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    On Newt:

    Reagan Nat’l Security Advisor Bud McFarlane: http://bit.ly/zd9eAF

    Reagan Economist Art Laffer: http://bit.ly/xEDETi

    Reagan WH political director Jeffrey Lord: http://bit.ly/zw2ZMb

    Reagan Policy Analyst Peter Ferrara http://bit.ly/zq1QxI

    Reagan media consultant Richard Quinn: http://on.msnbc.com/y2sPM2

    Reagan’s Speechwriting Dir. Bently Elliott: http://thedc.com/xOkDvA

    Reagan’s older son Michael Reagan: http://bit.ly/yYVy7L

    Reagan’s beloved wife Nancy: http://bit.ly/zrWvAw

    • #22
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:25 AM PST
    • Like
  23. Herkybird Inactive
    George Savage

    And the fact is, many true-blue conservatives with a great deal of first-hand Gingrichian lore at their command are taking us to school about our favorite lapsed history professor. The title of American Spectator founder R. Emmett Tyrell’s piece in the Sun today, “William Jefferson Gingrich,” pretty much says it all.

    And yet in the on-line edition of Tyrrell’s own magazine, American Spectator, there’s a piece by Reaganaut Jeffrey Lord praising Gingrich role as “Reagan’s Young Lieutenant.” And a video clip at Gateway Pundit with Nancy Reagan saying, “Barry Goldwater handed the torch to Ronnie and, in turn, Ronnie turned that torch over to Newt…”

    Go figure…

    • #23
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:29 AM PST
    • Like
  24. The Mugwump Inactive

    Ask yourself how many of the following adjectives apply to both Gingrich and Obama: undisciplined, arrogant, mean, nasty, narcissistic, glib, mega-maniacal, and baggage-laden.

    Now ask yourself how many of these adjectives apply to Rick Santorum. How about a referendum on character?

    • #24
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:34 AM PST
    • Like
  25. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Michael Tee:

    Our own Peter Robinson had an answer to Eliot Abrams piece.

    I think a good summation is found in the comments section of the article:

    When you evaluate that against Mr. Abrams, one of Jim Baker’s inner circle, this anti-Newt propoganda falls right into place. Bob Dole, Bush 41, Jim Baker, and legions of other RINO squishes are still holding a 30-year old grudge over Newt fighting moderates off of Reagan’s coattails. Additionally, they’ve still never forgiven Newt for subverting Bush 41’s biggest tax increase proposals in the early 1990’s. That Newt is simultaneously winning massive support from real working folks while inside-the-beltway Republicans are drawing out their most venomous anti-Newt rhetoric is no coincidence at all. All you have to do is go back over all the old rivalries in Reagan’s White House to understand where this anti-Newt fury is coming from.

    Read the Abrams piece. Newt was not criticizing the bureaucracy–he was directly and erroneously accusing the president of blowing it. Newt can’t have it both ways. He can’t say he and Reagan beat communism.

    • #25
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:38 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Pseudodionysius
    Chris Deleon: Give Santorum another look, folks.

    You may say, he doesn’t have a chance. That’s what we all thought about Gingrich, and really, almost each and every one of the candidates that have ridden this roller coaster at one point or another. When we break out of the mold that the latest poll numbers attempt to impose on our perceived options, we can change the poll numbers themselves.

    We have a bunch of flawed candidates, including Santorum. What choice do we have other than to pick the one with the least issues? · 1 minute ago

    Happy Days aren’t here again, and right now I’m waiting to hear what Stinky Pete has to say. · 56 minutes ago

    Stinky Pete for President! The time is ripe, and so is Pete!

    • #26
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:49 AM PST
    • Like
  27. Tennessee Patriot Member
    Tennessee Patriot Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I sympathize with what Newt was saying in the 80’s. Having read Reagan’s op-eds in the 70’s and loving his speeches I had become disappointed in him during his second term. It seemed like Washington had shaved off his sharp edges and he had quit fighting for reduced government. Tax reform seemed to be his only real accomplishment and the simplification of the code didn’t last long at all. In fact, I voted Libertarian in 1984 (but would have voted for Reagan had there been any doubt he could lose). George, let’s not put Reagan on too high a pedestal. A number of conservatives had fears about Reagan’s policy in Afghanistan and that’s okay with me. For me, I think Thomas Sowell’s assessment is spot-on: we need a quarterback who can throw the touchdown pass rather than the one who best avoids interceptions because the clock is running out. Desperate times/ desperate measures, etc.

    • #27
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:56 AM PST
    • Like
  28. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    George Savage

    And of course, there’s Ann Coulter’s support for Mitt Romney to consider.

    Then there’s Thomas Sowell’s and Art Laffer’s support for Gingrich to consider. We could play this game all day.

    Santorum has proposed cutting $5 trillion in debt over 5 years… which at least is only one more year than he can count on. But between him and Gingrich, Newt seems more likely to trash an entire government agency. My vote will go to the biggest wrecking ball.

    • #28
    • January 26, 2012, at 8:57 AM PST
    • Like
  29. flownover Member
    Diane Ellis, Ed.: Well, Drudge certainly seems to despise Newt. More than half of the stories on the Drudge Report as of this writing are negative Newt stories. · 1 hour ago

    It is like reading the Corner.

    • #29
    • January 26, 2012, at 9:07 AM PST
    • Like
  30. Margaret Ball Inactive
    George Savage

    I am experiencing something very unusual for me, very quantum mechanical: I’m uncertain. · · 2 hours ago

    The place where quantum mechanics loses me is the assertion that a particle takes not one path from A to B but all possible paths.

    Doesn’t that mean that the path from here to the White House can go through Gingrich and Romney and Santorum and all other possible nominees? Oh well, I see the fallacy; I’m assuming the particle actually gets to B. Darn – just as I was starting to warm up to quantum theory, it lets me down again.

    • #30
    • January 26, 2012, at 9:09 AM PST
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