Skip to comments.The Past and the Present (Thomas Sowell on Newt Gingrich)
Posted on 12/19/2011 9:59:22 AM PST by jazusamo
If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich's "baggage" concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.
But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: "We are going to change the United States of America."
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich's personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics' claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.
Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock and he publicly admitted it the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.
Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.
While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.
Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.
Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.
In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama and better than Mitt Romney.
Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.
Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.
He says so in your link ~ he’s done a 180 in terms of his support for Newt.
Your link is dated today. Are you sure it’s been posted here as a thread?
. . . Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. . . .
The federal budget was balanced in '98, '99, '00 and '01.
1998 minus 40 is 1958; (the Eisenhower administration)
Sure, Sowell presents a lot of cogent points concerning achievements, but, c’mon, Mitt has great hair. So despite the fact that he’s never accomplished anything, lets nominate Mitt because he looks like what we think a president should look like. Even if he’s never given us any reason to vote for him. (smirk)
I do think Sowell is too dismissive of these concerns, however. Personal judgement and behavior are important factors when awarding a position of trust and responsibility, even when not directly related to professional judgment and behavior.
The "baggage" question on Gingrich is a legitimate one from both the pragmatic "does it make him unelectable?" and philosophical "can we trust him?" positions, In order to throw support behind Gingrich, it is important to ask those questions and be comfortable with the answers.
More clear thinking from Sowell. I agree with his priorities.
Newt is in no way like McCain.
I'm neither for Romney nor Gingrich, but I could imagine Gingrich telling the truth to the American public much more than I could Romney. Romney would easily roll over to make sure people liked him. Despite some of his past statements and actions (which he's since apologized for), I think Newt would be much more likely to hold firm to conservative principles than Mitt. That's not saying a lot, I'm just saying I'd trust that "zany" Gingrich more than I'd trust Romney.
You’re an idiot.
That’s not how I read Steyn’s article. He seems to think if Newt is still standing, then we have no alternative.
Here’s the prior post.
Not if your only choices were Newt, Hitler and Stalin.
That is the expected answer one would expect from a Newter. No dialogue - just name calling.
I didn’t read that as an endorsement per se, but more of a recitation of the facts, and no real reason to oppose Gingrich.
You mean a sometime conservative, sometime liberal suck up, Republican backstabbing, amnesty loving, consummate insider, "maverick"? Na, no similarity at all.
As far as I am concerned in the national election...anybody but Obama.
And as far as the GOP nominee, any body but Romney (and Huntsman).
Thanks, you’re right. Steyn obviously hates Newt.
I’ll take Newt’s brains over Steyn’s quips any day. I imagine Dr. Sowell would, too.
Sowell is where many of us are. Newt is the least worse option. That is not high praise.
I love and respect Dr. Sowell and have become a Newt supporter since Herman Cain dropped out.
Within 6-7 weeks five votes will have been held and we will have a much better picture of how the primary is forming.
I've decided that over the Holy Days, I'm going to try to hold back on my acid posts and bomb throwing at supporters of other FReepers losing candidates.
Check my tag line and remember, I don't want to nuke all mooselimbs, we will save both moderates when they are identified.