Thursday, December 15, 2011

All Potato, No Meat

To those who know me, they think of me as a thoughtful commentator on various matters of public importance. To those who don't know me, but think they do, they consider me an outrageous left wing nut job who is interested in promoting socialism and other left wing nut job socialists like the Kenyan Barack Hussein Obama. Looking at it from another perspective, those who disagree with me, by and large, tend to do so with what I call Fox talking points; i.e. all potato but no meat (substance). The vitriolic comments really soared recently when I called the current crop of Republican presidential candidates "bat-s___t crazy." It peaked when I presented my opinion of a hypothetical interview with the potential next first lady, Callista Gingrich. (More sophisticated readers may have realized that I purposely misspelled her first name to signify that she should get the "l" out of here.)

It was refreshing, therefore, to read over the past few weeks that George Will, David Brooks and other leading conservative commentators in various muted tones agree with my assessment. Today I report that the staunch conservative journal, The National Review, came over to the dark side (as the Fox policy wonks are won't to call the likes of me): I take the liberty of including the verbatim report of an editorial from The National Review which issued a stinging critique of Newt Gingrich on Wednesday, saying his character flaws make him unfit to be president and asking Republicans to “reject a hasty marriage” to the front-running candidate.

As reported in today's New York Times:

“Gingrich has always said he wants to transform the country. He appears unable to transform, or even govern, himself,” the editorial says of Mr. Gingrich, who served as speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. “He should be an adviser to the Republican Party, but not again its head.”

"The nearly 1,200-word editorial in the current issue comes as Mr. Gingrich has moved to the top of most polls of the Republican field after a string of impressive debate performances and after other conservative candidates, like Herman Cain and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, have either pulled out of the race or lost their luster among the right.

"The editorial praises Mr. Gingrich’s unexpected comeback from afterthought to front-runner: “Just a few months ago his campaign seemed dead after a series of gaffes and resignations. That Gingrich now tops the polls is a tribute to his perseverance, and to Republicans’ admiration for his intellectual fecundity.”

"But nominating Mr. Gingrich, the editorial warns, could weaken the party’s chances of putting its candidate in the White House, squandering what the writers say is a time of “uncharacteristic” unity, when conservatives are in “consensus about most of the pressing issues of the day.”

"“We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity.”

"It continues: “His character flaws — his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas — made him a poor Speaker of the House. Again and again he combined incendiary rhetoric with irresolute action, bringing Republicans all the political costs of a hardline position without actually taking one. Again and again he put his own interests above those of the causes he championed in public.”

"It references Mr. Gingrich’s personal life (“very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president”) and says that he was, during his tenure as speaker, “one of the most unpopular figures in public life.”

"The editorial latches on to what it sees as Mr. Gingrich’s unchanged behavior, the same behavior that led his party to a devastating midterm election loss, and to his following resignation in 1998 amid ethics questions, despite assurances from his aides and advisers that Mr. Gingrich has “conquered his dark side,” it says. “There is reason to doubt that he has changed,” it says, citing a series of out of context quotations from Mr. Gingrich where he seems to flip-flop on statements or appear egotistical.

"“Enough,” the editorial says.

"Mr. Gingrich is not the only candidate skewered. Of Gov. Rick Perry, the editorial says, “conservatism should not choose a standard-bearer who would have to spend much of his time untying his own tongue.” It also cites Representative Michele Bachmann’s “casual repetition of false anti-vaccine rumors” and Representative Ron Paul’s “re-dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11” as reasons they are unsuitable candidates.

"It concludes: “We will render further judgments in the weeks to come as the candidates continue to make their cases and are, just perhaps, joined by new candidates. At the moment we think it important to urge Republicans to have the good sense to reject a hasty marriage to Gingrich, which would risk dissolving in acrimony.”"

Now we finally have some meat with those potatoes.

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