Palin v. Gingrich

 

Both Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are prospective candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. A clash between them is inevitable. Both are populists who cater to the party’s grassroots, Fox-News-Channel-loving base. They are both fighting to become the populist outsider who challenges party insiders like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. And as this invisible primary unfolds, Palin has been much savvier than the former speaker of the House.

Consider endorsements. Last year, in the NY-23 special election, Palin went out on a line to support Doug Hoffman while Gingrich voiced support for party insider Dede Scozzafava. This week, in the Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary, Palin’s candidate Karen Handel came in first, and will face Gingrich’s chosen candidate, former congressman Nathan Deal, in an August 10 runoff. Handel is favored.

Then there’s the Ground Zero mosque controversy. Both figures have released statements against the mosque. But each statement uses different language, and emphasizes different points. Palin’s argument against the Cordoba Project is framed in terms of decency and respect for the murdered, and raises serious questions about the political agenda of the mosque’s developers. Gingrich’s, on the other hand, is explicitly sectarian — he says no mosque should be built near Ground Zero until Saudi Arabia allows Christian churches on its land. (Although, if you accept his analogy, and I don’t, why stop at Ground Zero?)

No matter what you think about the Ground Zero mosque — I’m not sure what to think myself — it is easy to distinguish between the two arguments. Palin’s uses language aimed at the Reagan Democrats and independents who remain the key to American politics. Despite what her enemies say, it is not hate speech. Gingrich’s language is intemperate. His reasoning is likely to turn off just as many people as it turns on. Palin wins once again.

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Members have made 27 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Mel Foil Inactive

    Re: the Ground Zero mosque

    I’ll give a hypothetical along the same lines. In 1980, John Lennon was assassinated in front of the Dakota, an apartment building in New York City, where he lived with his wife Yoko, and son–famous building, historic landmark. The murderer’s name was Mark David Chapman. The Dakota is a Co-op, but let’s say there’s a fire, everybody gets out safely, but (God forbid) it burns to the ground. Let’s say the land is sold to a Mr. Jones, and he puts up a replica apartment building of the same size. And Mr. Jones wants to name the building “the Chapman,” after his son, Chapman Jones. It might rub a lot of people the wrong way, but is there anything you can do about it in a legal sense? Probably not. As with the mosque, preventing what a lot of people think is very distasteful has to be done by public pressure.

    • #1
    • July 23, 2010 at 1:21 am
  2. Profile photo of The Mugwump Inactive

    The name Cordoba House was chosen deliberately as a signal to radical Muslims that ground zero is conquered territory. The name is an allusion to Andalusia and the conquest of Spain. Such propaganda victories can only have the affect of encouraging more terrorism.

    • #2
    • July 23, 2010 at 1:40 am
  3. Profile photo of Scott R Member

    Leaving aside the mosque issue for a moment, isn’t this an unusual rivalry in that both individuals seem to genuinely like and respect each other? That’s the impression I get: no one was a more effective Palin defender during the campaign than Newt, and Palin has on occasion cited Newt-isms when arguing various issues.

    Roger Simon even suggests a Palin-Gingrich ticket as a possibility. Personally, my apprehensions about Palin–which are huge–would be mitigated somewhat by a man-behind-the-curtain like Newt on the ticket.

    • #3
    • July 23, 2010 at 1:55 am
  4. Profile photo of Matthew Continetti Contributor
    Matthew Continetti Post author

    James, I agree. There’s always reason to be skeptical when Newt Gingrich says he’s contemplating a presidential run. For example, several years ago I wrote about the non-existent 2008 Gingrich campaign for The Weekly Standard. But I think Gingrich is a little more serious this time than last, because the political environment for Republicans seems much more promising (right now, anyway).

    And I agree with Scott that in some sense this rivalry is unusual. The two figures are a good match. But, as the cliché goes, there can be only one. And of course this rivalry in no way precludes the possibility of a Palin-Gingrich ticket. (Though I should also say that such a ticket would probably be much too right-wing for the country, and Palin would be better served, if she somehow wins the nomination, to choose Paul Ryan for veep.)

    • #4
    • July 23, 2010 at 2:36 am
  5. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    The Ground Zero mosque debate is interestingly related to this thread: https://ricochet.com/conversations/A-Reader-Takes-Issue-with-Me

    Since we are cleaning up America from all of these dastardly people, shouldn’t we be consistent with that position and throw Humza Ahmad out of Ricochet?

    Even if suspicious people with suspect motives legally buy property and build something we wish they would not construct, the one thing that has always inhered in the USA is the rule of law. If Cordoba House is built legally, without using government cash, eminent domain, etc., how can we argue that it cannot go up? Humza points out that the sources of funding need to be exposed as they are not at the present.

    At the same time, I want some Christian benefactor to sponsor a big church across the street.

    • #5
    • July 23, 2010 at 2:39 am
  6. Profile photo of Jonathan Matthew Gilbert Member

    Speaking as a New Yorker with an awful lot of liberal friends, I’m increasingly curious as to who exactly really thinks the Mosque is a good idea…cause I haven’t met anyone here who does. Setting that aside, I adore the idea of a Palin-Gingrich ticket and I think his flirtation with running this time might only be a step towards that end. He doesn’t seem serious to me this time, and he’s frankly one of the only “old lions” left in American politics so the credibility he could lend her on the ticket would be enormous. As for being too right-wing for the rest of the country…the very left-wing current president is hovering around 44% approval, with nearly two years of further blunders left to go before the election. Even precluding the possibility of a 3-way race (increasingly likely, as I see it), a right-wing ticket may never face a better opportunity than what’s coming.

    • #6
    • July 23, 2010 at 2:51 am
  7. Profile photo of Conor Friedersdorf Inactive

    I think that Matt’s analysis is substantially correct, and characteristically astute, but I sure do wish that the intra-conservative conversation focused less on the political viability of two competing candidates, and more on the actual desirability of their being the Republican nominee.

    Whatever one thinks of Newt Gingrich, he is far more qualified to be president than Sarah Palin, and I say that as someone for whom Mr. Gingrich’s mosque remarks are basically disqualifying

    However astute Sarah Palin is at positioning herself for the nomination, it remains the fact that she is utterly unqualified to be president, and that her myriad flaws would be a frightening disaster for the country were she ever to ascend to the Oval Office. I know these horse race conversations can be interesting and useful in their own right, and I’m glad to have such smart analysis from Matt, but every thread on this subject shouldn’t lose sight of the fact we’re early in the process, and focusing on the substantive strengths and weaknesses of candidates can change political dynamics, which should be secondary.

    • #7
    • July 23, 2010 at 4:07 am
  8. Profile photo of Scott R Member
    Jonathan Matthew Gilbert: … Setting that aside, I adore the idea of a Palin-Gingrich ticket and I think his flirtation with running this time might only be a step towards that end. ….

    I could definitely live with it after election day, but pre-election, I’d be a nervous wreck. With gaffe-prone Palin and loose-cannon Gingrich, I’d be hands-over-my-face-peaking-through-my-fingers from the convention through the first week of Nov.

    Also, Matt, if you’re still out there: Is Ryan really less right-wing than Gingrich? He has a moderate manner, yes, but his Road Map is off-the-charts right wing (in a good way), so much so that most Republicans are hesitant to embrace it.

    • #8
    • July 23, 2010 at 4:30 am
  9. Profile photo of Scott R Member

    Also, Gingrich’s mosque argument is being misrepresented here. His argument is that it would be a deliberate affront–same as Palin–and his not-until-the-Saudis-allow-churches line was sort of a hell-freezes-over rhetorical flourish. His point is: Spare me the religious toleration whining, since NY already has over 100 mosques while the guardians of Islam forbid Christians from even setting foot in Mecca. His words are intense, a little ironic, maybe snarky–intemperate, as Matt says–but his argument is defensible. Gingrich being Gingrich.

    • #9
    • July 23, 2010 at 5:10 am
  10. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    Newt was among the Republicans who said that then-Senator Obama is not a radical. It would be the height of irony if he led the Republican response. Those words could be used against him in a campaign.

    Frankly, I like Newt for the same reason I don’t like him. He’s a politician, first and foremost. He’s savvy, but likes the game a bit too much.

    • #10
    • July 23, 2010 at 5:16 am
  11. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    Oh, goodness, Conor, here we go again. I think you have it exactly opposite. Palin would be a disaster as a ticket-heading candidate (the reason I don’t support her candidacy), and would do just fine in the Oval Office. She has been an executive before and knows how to do those jobs.

    Newt’s marital history, Your Grace? Like the old 1950’s TV show, “I Led Three Lives”, Newt has had three wives and cheated blatantly on two of them. Brilliant policy guy (except that his idea of “prevention” solving the health care coast issue is nonsense), but a self-indulgent egotistical moral idiot.

    • #11
    • July 23, 2010 at 7:24 am
  12. Profile photo of Jerry Carroll Inactive

    Newt has been around forever and isn’t there some particularly nasty marital scandal in the background? True, the Democrats wouldn’t touch that with a barge pole because of their essential decency and insistence on playing the game fairly. So that’s not a factor at all.

    • #12
    • July 23, 2010 at 7:46 am
  13. Profile photo of Matthew Continetti Contributor
    Matthew Continetti Post author

    Scott, to answer your question, there probably isn’t a whole lot of disagreement between Ryan and Gingrich on the issues. But manner counts for a lot — and I’m afraid that, for all his strengths, Gingrich comes off as snarky and polarizing, whereas Ryan comes off as youthful, optimistic, and wonky.

    • #13
    • July 23, 2010 at 9:45 am
  14. Profile photo of HeartlandPatriot Inactive

    Sorry folks, but Newt has more baggage than Zsa Zsa Gabor on a world tour. His willingness to engage in offbeat and sometimes contradictory ideas would be an unending goldmine for the George Soros funded smear machine. Better to invest in a shaved ice franchise in Hades than Newt as a viable presidential candidate.

    • #14
    • July 23, 2010 at 9:59 am
  15. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member
    HeartlandPatriot: Better to invest in a shaved ice franchise in Hades than Newt as a viable presidential candidate. · Jul 23 at 9:59am

    For those Artisan snow cones!

    • #15
    • July 23, 2010 at 10:48 am
  16. Profile photo of Jonathan Matthew Gilbert Member
    heathermc: Palin is gaffe prone” Nope. She came on the national scene, worked hard to get McCain elected, did what his handlers told her to do throughout the campaign, was insulted like no other political person in living memory, and kept smiling. Since the election, she has positioned herself wisely, quietly, and thoroughly; she is showing herself to be a very smart politician (as Alaskans already understood). She doesn’t have any of McCain’s handlers around her anymore. Which may be why she hasn’t made any mistakes, and terrifies the Dems to the point where they froth at the mouth.

    I agree completely, and I think most of the “gaffes” she made during the eight or so weeks she was in the race were minor compared to ones made by Joe Biden then or since; it’s the coverage that was skewed. Now that she’s taking her time to prepare and controlling her image personally…she’s doing a lot better, and has come a long way towards repairing the image non-political-junkies have of her. And their votes are going to be the most significant.

    • #16
    • July 23, 2010 at 11:25 am
  17. Profile photo of heathermc Inactive

    Palin is gaffe prone” Nope. She came on the national scene, worked hard to get McCain elected, did what his handlers told her to do throughout the campaign, was insulted like no other political person in living memory, and kept smiling. Since the election, she has positioned herself wisely, quietly, and thoroughly; she is showing herself to be a very smart politician (as Alaskans already understood). She doesn’t have any of McCain’s handlers around her anymore. Which may be why she hasn’t made any mistakes, and terrifies the Dems to the point where they froth at the mouth.

    Not that I think she will run for President: I agree with Breitbart, by the way, that she can use her talents more wisely outside/ alongside the political world, because the culture is where it’s at.

    • #17
    • July 23, 2010 at 11:51 am
  18. Profile photo of James Poulos Contributor
    Matthew Continetti: Both Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are prospective candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. A clash between them is inevitable.

    So, Matt, you really think Newt is serious about running this time? The best case I’ve heard made for Newt is that, by harkening back to the Spirit of ’94 (if not ’96), he gives Republicans a way to get away from the past 10 years without blundering forward into unknown territory. It’s just not apparent to me that Newt’s seriously ready to rumble. One thing is clear: he’d be a more formidable debating opponent for the President than some other prospective candidates.

    On the merits of the Ground Zero thing, I’ve got to agree that Newt’s formulation doesn’t work for me. A rhetorical style that augurs ill for a full-dress campaign?

    • #18
    • July 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm
  19. Profile photo of Jerry Carroll Inactive

    As we now know, a lot of the negative ink when Palin first hit the scene was orchestrated by the JournoList cell. It has a new name by the way, Cabalist.

    • #19
    • July 24, 2010 at 3:13 am
  20. Profile photo of Scott R Member

    Jonathan and heathermc: Thanks for talking me out of that gaffe-prone phrase for Palin: she seemed to stuff all her gaffe’s into one interview. But I’m afraid you’ll never talk me out of the feeling that she’s gaffe-vulnerable.

    And I’m with Duane: once in there, Palin would be just fine, potentially damn good, but getting her in there would be (as Rob has put it) a high-wire act.

    • #20
    • July 24, 2010 at 3:15 am
  21. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    Gingrich is all about selling his book du jour.

    Scott Reusser

    I could definitely live with it after election day, but pre-election, I’d be a nervous wreck. With gaffe-prone Palin and loose-cannon Gingrich, I’d be hands-over-my-face-peaking-through-my-fingers from the convention through the first week of Nov. · Jul 22 at 4:30pm

    Scott gets it exactly right. Add to it the fact that Gingrich’s has totally cringe-inducing optics. Look at him talking with the sound turned off sometime and you may find yourself saying “who is that a*****e?” And I would vote for him if he were the nominee!

    @Heartland Patriot: “Sorry folks, but Newt has more baggage than Zsa Zsa Gabor on a world tour.” Totally correct. We would be so sick of hearing about Gingrich’s divorces, “wither on the vine” etc.

    Finally, why does anybody take Gingrich seriously anyway? Who can forget his pad de deux with Nancy Pelosi on the environment? We don’t need another president of GOP leader whose statements constantly require explanation. He should go back into the Think Tank, pull the cover over, and stay there.

    • #21
    • July 24, 2010 at 5:05 am
  22. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    President or GOP leader I meant.

    And Palin, she’d be a great president. Although it would be a very heavy lift. Whoever the candidate In 2012 the Dems will run a “Big Lie” propaganda campaign that will make Joseph Goebbels look like Demosthenes.

    But unlike Gingrich, Palin is not hard to look at. 😀

    • #22
    • July 24, 2010 at 5:10 am
  23. Profile photo of Kenn Owen Inactive

    Sarah Palin’s greatest asset in running for President (should she decide to do so) might every well be the MSM’s “misunderestimation” of her, embodied by Tina Fey. She WAS the Governor of a state, a mayor, and small businesswoman, but the media chose to ignore any and all accomplishments that didn’t fit their template. I grew up with women in northern Minnesota who spoke with a similar style to Mrs. Palin, and they are/were formidable. I don’t doubt that she might even be able to clean up Obama’s mess. She has common sense and humility (no Politician would willingly give up the perks of ‘Governor’), both of which are not as evident in our current officeholder.

    I like a lot about Newt, but you couldn’t pay me enough to share a couch with Nanny Pelosi and prattle on about ‘climate change’.

    • #23
    • July 24, 2010 at 6:39 am
  24. Profile photo of heathermc Inactive

    the US would be very lucky if Palin were to be president; I see her as the same kind of fearless practical leader as Thatcher. However, while I was in my c-span era, I saw something much more troubling that even Couric’s interview. It occurred during a republican governor’s shindig (I think these are annual affairs). On the one hand, when it came to having a group photo with Palin, there was a concerted rush to be as close to Palin as possible. However, when the Governors were interviewed by reporters, she was allowed one or two questions, and then almost pushed off stage by another of the governors.

    Palin really does embody the “Country Party”, and she represents a very real and serious threat to the ancien regime. Hence, the sneering hate.

    • #24
    • July 24, 2010 at 6:53 am
  25. Profile photo of Scott R Member
    Nick Stuart: ….But unlike Gingrich, Palin is not hard to look at. 😀 · Jul 24 at 5:10am
    True dat. Honesty alert: I–and I suspect others, though few will admit it–sometimes find it difficult to determine how much my hormones factor into Palin’s appeal. (I can get away with admitting this because she bears a striking resemblance to the Mrs.–complete with the updo, glasses, and naughty librarian vibe.) Monica, sweetie, I did not just type that.
    • #25
    • July 24, 2010 at 8:02 am
  26. Profile photo of Jonathan Matthew Gilbert Member

    I definitely think she’s being underestimated by nearly everyone, left or right, and that will work in her favor to an astonishing degree. She’s far smarter and more media-savvy than anyone gives her credit for. After all, before she was in politics, the woman trained in broadcast journalism. As for being gaffe-vulnerable…yeah, she is. And any mistakes she makes will be held against her much more than they would be held against any other politician saying something similar, but sooner or later that kind of behavior by the media and by her opponents stops working against her…and starts working for her. It’s a trick Thatcher understood very well. The public is uncomfortable watching anybody kicking a lady…even if the lady in question shakes it off or pretends not to notice. I think she has the potential to gain even more support BY being attacked brutally. And I think she already knows that.

    • #26
    • July 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm
  27. Profile photo of Jimmie Bise Jr Inactive
    Matthew Continetti: Both Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are prospective candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. A clash between them is inevitable. Both are populists who cater to the party’s grassroots, Fox-News-Channel-loving base.

    Are you sure about that last sentence, Matthew? Last I checked, Gingrich was not anywhere near the top of the Tea Parties’ “Politicians We Love” list. His climate change commercial wherein he cozied up with, I believe, Nancy Pelosi on a love seat and his rejection of Tea Party favorite Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 election (and his endorsement of Dede Scozzafava for, shall we say, less than principled reasons) are not behaviors I would consider “catering” to the grassroots.

    • #27
    • July 26, 2010 at 6:43 am