There are many problems that conservatives should have with President Gingrich. His personal life has been speckled with adultery. He has flip-flopped on global warming. His firm has profited, though modestly, from the housing debacle (although there is no hint of wrongdoing on his part.) Gingrich sounds very wonky for a conservative who wants to lead a revolution: conservatism is not, in essence, detailed. Basic principles, nearly all of which devolve choice to the individual or the state government, are clear, few and brief.
Nevertheless, there is a compelling case for Gingrich as the Republican nominee. He is both glib and brilliant. In this respect Gingrich resembles much more the parliamentary pugilist Winston Churchill, who also had very heavy baggage, than Ronald Reagan, who gave “The Speech” ten thousand times. Like Churchill, who mastered much more than just politics, Gingrich is an historian, a fiction writer and a dozen other things.
He will not be stumped by the media. In fact, Gingrich will have the knowledge to actually embarrass the automatons who read teleprompter questions. More pointedly, Gingrich has the best chance of any Republican displaying Obama before America in a “deer in the headlights” moment. Our current president is a profoundly ignorant man whose ignorance is masked by equally ignorant and wholly programmed media.
Although what Obama doesn’t know can hurt us, a single slip in the debates could cost him – and perhaps his party – five percentage points in the general election. That could not only seal the presidential election but also swing dozens of House and Senate races and turn a presidential victory into a presidential landslide. People are scared now and a man who obviously grasps the present crisis can be a valuable electoral asset.
Gingrich also understands Congress. He was House Minority Whip and then Speaker of the House, the most important office in Congress. Gingrich would understand how to move legislation through Congress, and so a conservative agenda supported by him would have a much greater likelihood of actually becoming law than with some more ardent, but less experienced, conservatives.
An analogy might be made between LBJ and Gingrich. President Johnson was not nearly as liberal as most Democrat nominees in the last fifty years, yet he transformed America (for the worse, but still dramatically) with his “Great Society” agenda. Johnson, who had been Senate Majority Leader before he was Vice President, knew just how Congress worked. Since Johnson, America has moved progressively to the left, because he was able to get enacted what seemed like a modestly leftist agenda.
Moreover, Gingrich as a novice Speaker learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t in high-profile national legislative debates. It is easy to underestimate what he accomplished with a modest House majority and a Senate in which Republicans could not even end debate on a bill, much less, in either house, override a presidential veto.
His personal scandals of the past would actually be strength in the general election. Gingrich as Speaker was smeared and attacked so relentlessly that all the “bad news” has been heard long before. Rather like Clinton, who had even more scandals, no one much cares about an older man whose life has been scrutinized and used by his enemies.
Gingrich’s age, he would be 69 in November 2012, could actually be used by Gingrich to reassure conservatives and his countrymen if he picked an appealing and strongly conservative running mate, like Michelle Bachmann, and if he also stated that he would serve a single term as president. He might say something like this:
“The problems our nation faces require a president who is not bothering at all with reelection. I promise the American people, if they trust me with this vital office, to devote all of my energies over the next four year, without concern about public opinion polls or reelection, to restoring the American Dream.”
This sort of promise, along with the selection of a vigorous and articulate conservative Vice President, could reassure conservative voters that voting for Gingrich would also mean voting, in four years, for, perhaps, to elect President Bachmann or President Santorum or President Jindal. Such a conservative could win the 2016 nomination without a divisive fight and insure that for eight or even twelve years that no leftist legislation was enacted, no leftists were appointed to the Supreme Court, and that a conservative agenda would be pressed steadily at other levels, like federal regulatory agencies.
The hunt for a perfect candidate, while a vastly unpopular radical ruins America, is imprudent and unnecessary. The first goal, the indispensable goal, is to vote Obama out of office. Gingrich, like it or not, is a perfect candidate for that purpose.