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Newt Gingrich is more than the flavor of the day. Leftist media types can pretend all they want (as can Mitt Romney's campaign) that Newt's surge is nothing but a temporary flare of interest in a candidate that will quickly turn people off once they discover the negatives about him, but that is not what's going on with Gingrich. After all, unlike Bachmann, Cain and Perry (the others who have had their own bursts of support), people know Newt. They know his baggage. They know his background. They know his mistakes. And yet his numbers climb.
What that reflects is that conservatives are serious about finding an alternative to Mitt. And they want one who is smart, articulate, and who can effect change in Washington, D.C. They have shifted towards Newt not because he is flashy, sexy, full of charisma or is spending boatloads of advertising money. They are going his direction because he is a polished, articulate idea man who could demolish Obama in a debate. That isn't going to change tomorrow, much as Mitt or the media may want it to.
So if this does become a two person race, can the case be legitimately made for conservatives to rally behind the former speaker? Bruce Walker thinks so, and articulates why in a compelling American Thinker piece. He begins by acknowledging the obvious:
There are many problems that conservatives should have with a 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 Gingrich's 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.
But, Walker writes, there is still a strong case to be made that Newt is the horse to back. What is it?
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 to display 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.
Yet what Obama doesn't know can hurt us, and 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 it would with some more ardent, but less experienced, conservatives.
All strong points. But I thought Walker's treatment of the Gingrich scandal issues was most intriguing:
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 come as a 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 with Clinton, who had even more scandals, no one much cares about an older man whose life has been scrutinized and used by his enemies.
And Gingrich can do some things to really strengthen his hand, particularly with a prudent choice for VP:
Gingrich's age -- he would be 69 in November 2012 -- could actually reassure conservatives and Gingrich's countrymen if he picked an appealing and strongly conservative running mate, like Michele Bachmann, and if he also stated that he would serve a single term as president.
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, a 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, no leftist legislation is enacted, no leftists are appointed to the Supreme Court, and a conservative agenda is 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.
Let me add the possibility of a "President Rubio" or "President West." I know both have suggested they will not run as the VP candidate, but Gingrich has a persuasive way about him should he be the nominee. In terms of defeating Obama being the most important objective, I think a clarification is in order.
The most important thing for us to do is to strive for righteousness, and let our vote be reflective of that. The rest will take care of itself. But striving for righteousness is not about choosing the perfect candidate. It is sometimes about choosing the candidate who will defeat the one who proudly stands to advance foolishness and evil. We should not be looking for a president to solve all our problems nearly as much as we should be looking for one who will quit creating more of them.