I promised to lay off Virgil Goode until after the election, but this is one reason I’m not so sure that ex-major party elected official are the best sort of “big name” candidates for a third party.
More on that after the election.
The anti-intellectual/ anti-policy wonk trends on the Right and within the Republican Party has real consequences. It leaves politicians and voters and citizens vulnerable to charlatans and snake oil salesmen, simply because they speak like they know what they are talking about. I am referring specifically of Newt Gingrich, who finally ended his Presidential campaign last week (officially) but also of the latest GOP smarty pants Rep. Paul Ryan, who become an person of importance within the party simply because he sounds like the smartest fellow in the room.
This is the essence of how Gingrich became Speaker of the House and ultimately why his Presidential campaign was able to last as long as it did with any kind of credibility. In a party bereft of ideas other than saying “no” all the time, the man who has an idea, or something of that nature will automatically get an audience, even if a lot of what he says is bunk. Gingrich’s welfare schemes of free laptops for everyone or government-run orphanages or moon colonies are well known to anyone who pays attention and in Tea Party world should have been automatic grounds for dismissal of candidacy (at least the moon colony idea did him in in Florida). But at various points in the 2011-12 campaign Gingrich was a serious candidate, leading in the polls and winner of South Carolina and Georgia and runner-up in some other states. And this was some 15 years after he was dumped by his own House colleagues after leading them to their first majority in over 40 years.
There’s still a latent power in ideas in politics, albeit an always overrated one by Gingrich and his kind. After all, ideas and principals have certainly have been a big help to Ron Paul’s campaigns because there’s certain appeal to a candidate who doesn’t sound poll-driven politician, says what’s on his mind instead of repeating the same ideological dogma and comes up with interesting or thought provoking things to say. That doesn’t mean they’ll win, however. Certainly Mitt Romney has made a career out making his lack of ideals and principals an actual selling point of his. But at least ideas can get one’s foot in the door and establishes credibility before other factors of political viability kick in.
The same is true for Ryan. Because he’s one of the few numbers crunchers on the GOP side, his budget had immediate credibility, not just with his colleagues but with deficit-minded centrists chattering classes looking for such ideas from the Right. (It says something about the Romney campaign that it’s biggest selling point is someone else’s budget.) But there’s a reason why even Ron Paul and several other Republican U.S. House members voted against the Ryan Budget when it came to a vote on the House floor. It’s a political document (as most budgets usually area) rather than a serious attempt at fiscal policy. It takes care of all the party factions like the supply-siders (massive tax cut), the Tea Partiers (huge cuts in social spending) the hawks (massive increases in the defense budget), senior citizens (Ryan’s privatization of Medicare for those under 55). How this adds up to a balanced budget is anyone’s guess but in Ryan’s case his bizarre mixture of “Kempism” (he used to work for Jack Kemp’s think tank Empower America) and Ayn Rand ideals, really is overlooked because he’s one of the few Republican whose actually offered something tangible to chew over instead of just ideology.
There’s a joke his House colleagues once told about Gingrich that goes when he first went to work for the House Republican Campaign Committee there were told file cabinets in the office, one for “Newt’s Ideas” which was full and one which said “Newt’s Good Ideas” which was empty. Ideas alone should not be strict selling point in politics and but in the absence of any coming from the politicians themselves not to mention the to think tanks which are there to service them (but who mostly spend their time backing up the ideology), those persons who like to think off the top of their heads are going to get the most serious attention regardless if they out to be no more than political alchemists.
Via James Antle at American Spectator:
Ron Paul (through a spokesman): Congratulations to Senator Santorum on running such a spirited campaign. Dr. Paul is now the last – and real – conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. We plan to continue running hard, secure delegates, and press the fight for limited, constitutional government in Tampa.
“Dr. Paul is now the last – and real – conservative alternative…”
If only the Republican primary electorate understood that, which they don’t.
The person Santorum dropping out hurts the most is Gingrich. People expect Paul to stay in the race because he is a message candidate, but Gingrich isn’t a message candidate and only looks like a sore loser by hanging on.
Does Mitt Romney get this? Does Santorum? Does Gingrich? The Republican primary electorate has chosen the wrong candidate. The three stooges would be afraid to say what Paul is saying here even if they understood it.
The commerce clause was intended simply to give Congress the power to regulate foreign trade, and also to prevent states from imposing tariffs on interstate goods. In Federalist Paper No. 22, Alexander Hamilton makes it clear the simple intent behind the clause was to prevent states from placing tolls or tariffs on goods as they passed through each state– a practice that had proven particularly destructive across the many principalities of the German empire.
But the Supreme Court has utterly abused the commerce clause for decades,…
The doctrine of judicial review, which is nowhere to be found in Article III of the Constitution, has done nothing to defend liberty against extra-constitutional excesses by government. It is federalism and states’ rights that should protect our liberty, not nine individuals on a godlike Supreme Court.
Lincoln loving Newt Gingrich wouldn’t know federalism and states’ rights if they bit him on the rear.
For the last two years at least, when Ron Paul supporters were showing up in droves to help him win the straw poll, CPAC appeared to be becoming a more hospitable place for libertarians, constitutionalists, paleocons and other outside the mainstream rightists. I wonder if the CPAC Powers That Be got spooked by this, because CPAC (which started today) certainly appears to be reverting to mainstream interventionist movement “conservative” form.
Check out the list of speakers. It would be hard to imagine a more cookie-cutter selection of interventionist movement “cons” if you tried. I don’t see an easily identifiable non-interventionist in the whole lot. Grover Norquist and Phyllis Schlafly have nodded toward non-interventionism at times, but neither is identifiably such as far as I am concerned.
Romney, Gingrich and Santorum will be there. Ron Paul will not. At first there was some consternation among Ron Paul supporters who assumed he had not been invited, but he was invited and declined saying that he had campaigning to do. I don’t know this, but I suspect he and his team knew it wouldn’t necessarily be a friendly environment this year since he wasn’t making an all out effort to get his supporters there to vote in the straw poll.
It’s been said before. Persons stop running (seriously) for President when they run out of money. But what the SuperPAC’s have done is made it possible for a single donor to basically bankroll a campaign with TV and other ad money while allowing the campaigns to horde their money for things like travel, salaries and what not.
Thus Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum go on with their campaigns because two wealthy individuals and their families, casino baron Sheldon Aldeson and financier Foster Friess has made it possible to go on when in past campaign they would have been forced from the field due to lack of resources compared to Mitt Romney, or grassroots passion compared to Ron Paul.
Of course neither man has to go on. They can simply call it quits and do so honorably and hope their campaign may lead to better opportunities in the future. But they continue onward I suspect because each believes if the other quits they and they alone will inherit ideologically conservative voters in a finally united effort to defeat Mitt Romney and win the nomination. So like two scorpions in a bottle, each is trying to sting the other unsuccessfully to keep their miserable journeys going.
There is a cat fight at American Spectator between the allegedly pro-Romney Quin Hillyer and the allegedly pro-Newt Jeffrey Lord. This is pretty ugly, and I’m actually surprised it has reached this level on a public blog. RET may have to step in to separate these two.
Jeffrey Lord, who has intellectual integrity about equivalent to Bill Clinton’s, has become a purveyor of smear jobs utterly divorced from facts, logic, and decency. After an exchange of about a dozen emails back and forth in which he refused to acknowledge simple facts — not opinions, facts — the time has come to show him up for his growing and despicable hackery.
Of course this is all incredibly silly. Two people fighting over who is the most conservative, RINO Romney or Futurist Tofflerite Newt, is embarrassing when there is a candidate in the race who favors originalist constitutionalism and a commodity based currency and opposes central banking, etc., etc., etc.
Man, I should have gone into politics! If a goofy looking joker like Newt Gingrich can use politics to pull chicks then a decent looking guy like me could rack up Wilt Chamberlainesque numbers.
According to R. Emmett Tyrrell, Newt is fond of the ladies and is sometimes able to con one into acceding to his advances. Apparently there are some skeletons in Newton’s closet.
This article goes for the throat. This was an intentional hit job. By that I don’t mean it’s not true, I suspect it is, I just mean it was deliberately intended to inflict damage.
Notice that RET speaks favorably of the three other main candidates including Ron Paul, so I don’t think this was specifically a pro-Romney hit.
Anyway, once the campaign is over maybe Newtie can get together with Herman Cain and they can troll for chicks together.
Daniel Larison points out that Newt Gingrich was a bloviating hawk even back in the Reagan era.
That is the problem that hawkish alarmists have. They always think “the danger is greater than ever,” and it doesn’t matter if the danger is growing or shrinking. What Abrams doesn’t mention in his criticism of Gingrich is that Gingrich was simply echoing complaints that many other hawkish Republicans were making during the ’80s. Because such hard-liners consistently overestimate the strength of adversaries and the size of foreign threats, they are frequently dissatisfied with the decisions of any administration, no matter how aggressive or confrontational they may be.
This illustrates a dynamic I have picked up on in the past. People who consider themselves “more” conservative than the currently regnant variety and likewise consider the regnant variety insufficiently conservative will often manifest this by simpy being more by degree what they think a conservative is supposed to be. If regular conservatives want to cut marginal tax rates by 5% they want to cut them by 10%. If regular conservatives want to cut spending by 250 billion, they want to cut it by 500 billion. Of course this isn’t all bad, but when it comes to defense and foreign policy issues they often end up just being more hawkish and bellicose by degree. The problem with the current regime is that they aren’t saber rattling enough. We are fighting using PC rules of engagement and what we really need to do is just turn the Marines lose to kick a** and take names. Blah … blah … blah. Of course what they are advocating is morally reprehensible, but it don’t think it really occurs to a lot of them what they are really endorsing. They’re just being more of what they see as a good thing.
So what demogogues like Gingrich and others were doing in the 80′s was simply playing to this element. It is cost free rhetoric because you get to throw it out to the red meat crowd without the danger of ever having to actually enact it. You saw this a lot in Bush’s 2nd term when things in Iraq were clearly not going according to plan. We simply needed to get nastier in our prosecution of the war.
This is why it is so difficult to introduce non-interventionism to this crowd. You are not just asking them to be more of something they already think is a good thing. You are asking them to change their paradigm altogether.
Editor’s Note: I added a Newt Gingrich category since we will unfortunately be talking about him for some time to come.
National Review has an editorial from “The Editors” that specifically says not to vote for Newt. (H/T Joseph Lawler at AmSpec) As Lawler asks, what is the word for the opposite of endorsing someone? They suggest Romney, Huntsman and Santorum as acceptable options.
Here is what they say about Ron Paul:
Representative Paul’s recent re-dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11 are a reminder that the excesses of the movement he leads are actually its essence.
What are they even talking about? Re-dabbling? Did I miss some recent development? Tom DiLorenzo reports that Bill Bennett brought up Ron Paul and conspiracy theories tonight on Hannity. Is this just a new concerted attack on Paul by people who are frightened by his increasing poll numbers and/or did I miss something?
What’s up with all these Gingrich endorsements? Do these people not know the guy’s record? Anyway, this is news because Bob Smith once left the Republican Party and flirted with the Constitution Party. I believe he twice flirted with the CP as a potential Presidential candidate. The endorsement reads in part:
“It is not enough to simply defeat President Obama. We must replace him with an inspirational, experienced, conservative leader, with the guts to challenge and change the establishment. Newt Gingrich is that leader.”
This will not make Smith’s CP friends, if he still has any, happy.
Honestly, I’m a bit embarrassed for Smith who comes off as kinda pathetic. His Senate speech leaving the GOP was really quite good, but he went back like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs, and it has all been down hill from there. He seems to be desperately trying to recapture a piece of his former status to no avail. He briefly ran for Senate in Florida this last cycle. Anyone who would endorse Gingrich at this point was never CP material to begin with as some of us suggested at the time.
Cross posted (without the editorial content) at Independent Political Report. There our friend Peter Gemma reminds us that Smith endorsed Duncan Hunter in 2008, which I had forgotten. I guess he has moved on entirely from his third party flirtation phase.
Editor’s Note: I just added a category for Newt Gingrich since we will unfortunately be talking a lot about him for a while.