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Some very interesting observations in the DC Examiner today from FOR (that’s Friend of Ricochet, for the uninitiated) Byron York:

For days, there’s been talk of a Newt Gingrich boomlet in the Republican presidential race here in Iowa.  After Friday night’s Reagan Dinner at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines, that Gingrich boomlet talk might turn into talk of a Gingrich boom.

Five candidates — Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul — addressed a crowd of about 1,000 GOP faithful at the state Republican party’s biggest fundraiser of the year.  In brief interviews after the dinner — the only question was which speaker did the best job — audience members were unanimous: Gingrich, Gingrich, Gingrich.

… In a dozen interviews, the score was Gingrich 12, the rest of the field 0.

… [Newt] appears to be on the move; in other Iowa surveys, Gingrich has broken into double digits after being in the low- to mid-single digits as late as August.  And in conversations with a lot of Iowa voters in Des Moines and around the state in the last several days, it’s remarkable how many voters named Gingrich as their first or second choice.  If any frontrunners fade — and given recent experience, that seems likely to happen — Gingrich seems poised to make real progress toward a place in the top tier.

I suspect this is our trajectory for the remainder of the race. With Bachmann and Perry marginalized, and Herman Cain regularly demonstrating that he has a hard time bearing the scrutiny that accompanies being a front-runner, Newt slowly but steadily becomes the conservative alternative.

Don’t get too comfortable if you’re in the fervently anti-Romney camp, however. The reality is that Newt has never had to endure the spotlight that comes with being at the front of the pack either. And the second that he does, the allegations about his personal life — ignored when he was seen as little more than an eccentricity on the trail — will come back with a vengeance. This is still Mitt Romney’s race to lose — and given that caution seems to be the cardinal value of his campaign, knocking him off his pedestal is going to be a very difficult proposition.

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  1. Frozen Chosen Inactive

    Newt’s a smart guy and a great speaker but totally undisciplined. This character flaw is why he couldn’t stay faithful to his ex-wives and why he would make a bad chief executive.

    Oftentimes smart guys tend to be undisciplined because they can skate through challenges while others have to work at them. Although he is on the other end of the spectrum ideologically, Newt shares this trait with Obama and Clinton – a couple of other smart but undisciplined types.

    Newt belongs in the pundit class where we can all be dazzled by his brilliance without worrying about him making decisions that will actually impact our lives.

    • #1
    • November 6, 2011, at 1:41 AM PDT
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  2. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m glad you put this up, Troy. I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m fickle. Gingrich is now my favorite of the Republicans who are running. Baggage and all. I still like Cain, but he’s got to prove he can learn from his mistakes.

    Gingrich’s “follow Obama around” in the general is just audacious enough to work. And he’s the only one brilliant enough and historically literate enough to pull it off.

    The video of his Iowa speech is in this post at HotAir.

    And as to Romney being hard to knock off, I still can’t figure out why? Why? The man did the exceedingly un-conservative work of implementing ObamaCare before Obama did. And then had the audacity to put himself forward as a Republican candidate after the ascendance of the Tea Party. I don’t understand how he gets even 25% of the GOP vote. The only thing I can come up with is undue reverence for administrative competence and timidity. Someone please explain.

    • #2
    • November 6, 2011, at 1:53 AM PDT
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  3. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Frozen Chosen: Newt’s a smart guy and a great speaker but totally undisciplined. This character flaw is why he couldn’t stay faithful to his ex-wives and why he would make a bad chief executive.

    Can you (or anyone) give some examples of Gingrich’s lack of discipline in policy matters? I’m aware of the global warming commercial with Pelosi. I’m not sure that’s a discipline problem. I’m also aware of his criticism of the Ryan plan. I need to look into that more to try to determine what was behind it, but it’s not obvious to me that it was a discipline problem either. Perhaps I’m not clear on what you mean by “undisciplined,” but what other issues should I be looking at as examples of this? I don’t mean this as a challenge. I’m sincere in wanting to understand and take a closer look at this charge.

    • #3
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:00 AM PST
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  4. Fricosis Guy Listener

    Ummm…allegations? You mean the facts about his personal life.

    Troy Senik

    allegations about his personal life…

    • #4
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:01 AM PST
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  5. Publius Inactive

    Newt strikes me as a classic revolutionary. He’s great as figuring out how to get into power, but not very good with power once he has it. His term as Speaker was illustrative of that. Smart fellow, but not someone I would trust with a lot of power.

    • #5
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:17 AM PST
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  6. Leigh Member
    Speaking as someone who would much prefer a “conservative alternative” to Romney, I want to know: Is there any substantial reason to believe Gingrich is more conservative, more trustworthy, or a better leader? He is a livelier speaker than any of the rest and says intriguing things, of course. But Romney is also saying most of the right things these days, if a little more cautiously (as you would expect from someone with an eye on the general election). Given a choice between two politicians, neither of whom we have any particular reason to trust, offering broadly similar policy proposals, it seems to me at this point wiser to go with the one who is apparently scandal-free and honorable in his personal life.Am I missing anything?
    • #6
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:25 AM PST
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  7. Charlotte Member
    CharlotteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If Mitt Romney is our John Kerry, then Newt Gingrich is our Bill Clinton.

    And I could totally get on board with a Newt candidacy.

    Good lord, what am I saying?!

    • #7
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:40 AM PST
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  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As to Newt’s personal baggage, is there, or has there ever been, a man in the universe without baggage, apart from Jesus Christ? Marital infidelity during presidency seems to be the norm, with the possible exception of GWB, who had the baggage of alcoholism to carry around. It is one thing to scrutinize the private behavior of the man in office (which, as Rob so passionately articulated, doesn’t even matter for Democrat presidents) and quite another to insist on sinless purity as a prerequisite for candidacy. I believe in the possibility of conversion of the heart and, until Newt has shown otherwise, I’ll believe he’s had one. Up until recently, this has been a typical American attitude. Do I need to catch up with the unforgiving times?

    • #8
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:52 AM PST
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  9. James Of England Moderator
    James Of EnglandJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Freeven

    katievs

    Freeven

    Because there is a strong innate drive that causes humans to lust. There is no corresponding innate drive that compels humans to perform unconstitutional acts.

    “Lust for power,” anyone?
    That’s a blurry comparison. Giving in to lust of the flesh is, by definition, a betrayal of marital vows. Giving in to lust for power is not, by definition, unconstitutional…… His lust for power would incline him toward presenting and selling them honestly and, once elected, he’d have every reason to pursue them.

    I have concerns about Gingrich, but I don’t doubt that he is advocating policies he believes in and that he would try to enact those policies if elected. ·

    FDR, Wilson, and Jackson advocated policies they believed in. There is a strong innate drive to overcome limits on our power.

    Lust for flesh is not always a breach of one’s marital vows; it can help in fulfilling them. A lust for flesh that contravenes one’s oath, rather than supporting it, is the problem. They’re not that different.

    • #9
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:53 AM PST
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  10. Publius Inactive
    Western Chauvinist: quite another to insist on sinless purity as a prerequisite for candidacy.

    No one is proposing sinless purity. However, if his wife can’t trust him, why should we?

    • #10
    • November 6, 2011, at 2:55 AM PST
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  11. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Leigh: Given a choice between [Romney and Gingrich], neither of whom we have any particular reason to trust, offering broadly similar policy proposals, it seems to me at this point wiser to go with the one who is apparently scandal-free and honorable in his personal life.Am I missing anything?

    What has Gingrich done to cause you to doubt his policy proposals?

    • #11
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:32 AM PST
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  12. Israel P. Inactive

    Does this mean that Santorum will be the one, simply by being last in line?

    • #12
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:34 AM PST
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  13. Mel Foil Inactive

    According to Newt Gingrich’s daughter, her mother, Jackie, that Newt supposedly divorced “while on her death bed” is very much alive today and lives in Georgia. And before they got divorced, they were separated for several months. The divorce was well in motion before Jackie was hospitalized. And as you might imagine, Jackie was not begging her cheating husband to stay. Apparently, she was through with him.

    • #13
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:34 AM PST
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  14. James Of England Moderator
    James Of EnglandJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In case it sounds like my concern there is stronger than it is, I think that Gingrich is way better than Perry, while being less good than Cain or Romney. My point about the drive to break down constraints is a philosophical one rather than my view of Gingrich’s chief ideological problem.

    • #14
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:35 AM PST
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  15. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Publius
    Western Chauvinist: quite another to insist on sinless purity as a prerequisite for candidacy.
    No one is proposing sinless purity. However, if his wife can’t trust him, why should we?

    It’s fair to take Gingrich’s infidelity in his marriages into account. Character does matter; it does to me, anyway. But I don’t see how it follows that, because he cheated on his wife, we can’t trust him to pursue the public policies he advocates. Apples and oranges, to my mind.

    • #15
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:45 AM PST
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  16. liberal jim Inactive

    If this is a pivotal election on which the future of the country rests, as some suggest, then it follows one should be looking for a person that could become a dynamic leader capable of inspiring significant change. Both Cain and Newt have considerable short comings but there is an outside chance they could become such a leader. I think there is little chance that Romney could rise to the occasion.

    • #16
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:46 AM PST
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  17. Publius Inactive
    Freeven

    But I don’t see how it follows that, because he cheated on his wife, we can’t trust him to pursue the public policies he advocates. Apples and oranges, to my mind.

    Not to mine. If he took an oath before God to be faithful to his wife and broke it, how can we trust him when he swears on a Bible to protect and defend the Constitution so help him God?

    • #17
    • November 6, 2011, at 3:49 AM PST
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  18. Palaeologus Inactive

    It’s been an hour or so, here’s Newt on Medicare reform.

    Short version: we’ll fix it by removing waste and fraud. Yep. No pandering there.

    • #18
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:03 AM PST
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  19. David Williamson Inactive

    I’ve got nothing against Newt, but Mr Cain is climbing out from under the bus, and remains my preferred not-Romney.

    • #19
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:04 AM PST
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  20. Scott R Member
    Scott RJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    How does a President Gingrich escape the box he created for himself (and for us)with his description of the Ryan Plan as “right-wing social engineering”? Seems to me the Republican House would now have an easier time pushing its agenda with a President Romney — who’s essentially endorsed the Ryan reforms — than with Newt.

    And if this is so, the “conservative alternative” isn’t really an accurate label for him.

    • #20
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:20 AM PST
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  21. Leigh Member
    Freeven
    Leigh: Given a choice between [Romney and Gingrich], neither of whom we have any particular reason to trust, offering broadly similar policy proposals, it seems to me at this point wiser to go with the one who is apparently scandal-free and honorable in his personal life.Am I missing anything?
    What has Gingrich done to cause you to doubt his policy proposals? · Nov 5 at 3:32pm

    Well, there was the global warming ad, he’s been at best iffy on the individual mandate in the past, and the way he dealt with the Ryan budget in May was… not reassuring. Frankly, my biggest problem is that his affair while publicly attacking Clinton over Lewinski, beyond the infidelity itself, seems so utterly irresponsible and shamelessly hypocritical as to make it difficult to consider him credible on anything. And it would weaken him in the general — it wouldn’t be the infidelity they would go after so much as the hypocrisy.

    But I’m asking why he should be considered reliable more than arguing otherwise. I’m open to being convinced, I simply haven’t found anything convincing so far.

    • #21
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:21 AM PST
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  22. Publius Inactive
    Leigh

    Well, there was the global warming ad, he’s been at best iffy on the individual mandate in the past, and the way he dealt with the Ryan budget in May was… not reassuring.

    The Lean Six Sigma nonsense that he reverted to in one of the early debates was a good reminder of how he’s prone to intellectual fads such as global warming. That doesn’t disqualify him from office, but it does tend to remind me that he can be, as others have pointed out, a bit intellectually undisciplined at times.

    Leigh

    Frankly, my biggest problem is that his affair while publicly attacking Clinton over Lewinski, beyond the infidelity itself, seems so utterly irresponsible and shamelessly hypocritical as to make it difficult to consider him credible on anything. And it would weaken him in the general — it wouldn’t be the infidelity they would go after so much as the hypocrisy.

    I’m not looking for perfection so the Lean Six Sigma stuff is easy enough to pass over. Everyone has their quirks, but I agree that this episode of his public life makes me very suspicious of his trustworthiness.

    • #22
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:26 AM PST
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  23. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Publius

    Freeven

    But I don’t see how it follows that, because he cheated on his wife, we can’t trust him to pursue the public policies he advocates. Apples and oranges, to my mind.

    Not to mine. If he took an oath before God to be faithful to his wife and broke it, how can we trust him when he swears on a Bible to protect and defend the Constitution so help him God?

    Because there is a strong innate drive that causes humans to lust. There is no corresponding innate drive that compels humans to perform unconstitutional acts. I believe Gingrich was weak, unable to resist temptation despite a desire to keep his marital vows. When it comes to public policy, he believes his ideas to be superior, and since there is little temptation to “cheat on them,” his weakness of will won’t be put to the test in either the same way or to the same degree.

    • #23
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:38 AM PST
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  24. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Leigh

    Freeven

    Leigh: Given a choice between [Romney and Gingrich], neither of whom we have any particular reason to trust…
    What has Gingrich done to cause you to doubt his policy proposals? · Nov 5 at 3:32pm
    Well, there was the global warming ad, he’s been at best iffy on the individual mandate in the past, and the way he dealt with the Ryan budget in May was… not reassuring.

    My question was worded poorly. I understand your concerns over the policies you mention above. I share them. But the concern, as I see it, is whether Gingrich is sufficiently conservative, rather than whether he can be trusted. I’m not sure Gingrich is the conservative candidate I’m looking for, but I generally trust that he will try to do what he says he will.

    • #24
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:51 AM PST
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  25. katievs Member
    katievsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Freeven

    Giving in to lust for power is not, by definition, unconstitutional. Let’s face it, all these folks lust for power to some degree.

    I don’t agree with that. Desire, however intense, is not the same as lust. Lust breaks rules and disregards limits.

    And (I’m sorry to bring it up, but I think it matters a lot in the context) Gingrich didn’t “just” cheat on his wife, he was carrying on an affair with an intern, and doing it at a moment and in a way that drastically undermined the Republican effort to impeach Clinton.

    How can we now make him President and his new wife (his third wife) First Lady?

    His lust for power would incline him toward presenting and selling them honestly and, once elected, he’d have every reason to pursue them.

    His lust for power means that he uses his ideas and communication skills to promote himself. And that leads to bad ideas and dishonesty.

    I notice when he doesn’t want to take a stand that might damage him, like on Yucca Mountain or the Ryan budge plan, he calls for a “national conversation.”

    • #25
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:52 AM PST
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  26. katievs Member
    katievsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    For me that Yucca Mountain moment at the debate was huge. I hadn’t ever given the issue much thought, but Ron Paul’s answer totally convinced me that there is a very serious state’s rights issue at hand.

    Gingrich called for a “national conversation” based on the science, and only under pressing by the moderator acknowledged that he’d favored it as speaker.

    My beef with him wasn’t so much that I didn’t like his position, it’s that he pretended not to have a position and implied that we should be guided by the science.

    Up went a red flag emblazoned with the word “UNPRINCIPLED”.

    • #26
    • November 6, 2011, at 4:58 AM PST
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  27. Kofola Inactive
    Western Chauvinist: I don’t understand how he gets even 25% of the GOP vote. The only thing I can come up with is undue reverence for administrative competence and timidity. Someone please explain. · Nov 5 at 1:53pm

    Romney has a clear and committed base from business, particularly big business,Republicans and Mormons. These voters were on his bandwagon early on and don’t seem inclined to budge, which accounts for his pretty consistent 20-25%. No other candidate has such a fixed support base, except Ron Paul. Whether Romney can make any significant number of Republicans of other stripes trust him will ultimately determine his fate. Unless, that is, the ‘not Romney’ vote remains divided long enough to allow him to sneak in anyway. If the ‘not Romney’ vote can decide on a candidate to consolidate around–which doesn’t yet appear certain–Romney is done.

    • #27
    • November 6, 2011, at 5:04 AM PST
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  28. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Leigh

    But I’m asking why [Gingrich] should d be considered reliable more than arguing otherwise. I’m open to being convinced, I simply haven’t found anything convincing so far.

    A fair question, although I tend to ask it in the other direction: Why shouldn’t he be considered reliable? I count his infidelity against him. And your charge of hypocrisy has substance as well. But neither of these things causes me to conclude that he wouldn’t pursue vigorously the policies he has outlined. I too am open to being convinced that he is unreliable in this respect. In the meantime, I am trying to decide whether he is sufficiently conservative and whether the flaws you noted are more substantial than those of other candidates. It seems a close call to me at this point.

    • #28
    • November 6, 2011, at 5:06 AM PST
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  29. Kofola Inactive

    I haven’t ruled out Gingrich, but he feels like a huge gamble to me. He has more upside than Romney, but also a much deeper downside.

    I also don’t really trust him. What about his past can I look to in order to alleviate my concern that he’d immediately fall into the trappings of DC? He’s a quintessential Washington insider. He certainly knows how to ‘get things done’ in DC, but will I actually like whatever those things are? Maybe.

    • #29
    • November 6, 2011, at 5:13 AM PST
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  30. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Scott Reusser: How does a President Gingrich escape the box he created for himself (and for us)with his description of the Ryan Plan as “right-wing social engineering”? Seems to me the Republican House would now have an easier time pushing its agenda with a President Romney — who’s essentially endorsed the Ryan reforms — than with Newt.

    And if this is so, the “conservative alternative” isn’t really an accurate label for him.

    Gingrich’s remarks about the Ryan Plan are indeed troubling. He did say, however, both before and after those remarks, that he would have voted for the plan. I don’t see President Gingrich putting the Ryan Plan in jeopardy any more than I see President Romney, with his continued defense of Romneycare, putting the repeal of Obamacare in jeopardy. These things will work themselves out.

    Gingrich isn’t as conservative as I would like, but he’s more conservative, and reliably conservative than Romney. Between the two, I’d pull the lever for Gingrich in a heartbeat.

    • #30
    • November 6, 2011, at 5:49 AM PST
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