I don’t pay attention to Newt Gingrich much these days. It isn’t because I don’t like him or respect him. It is for two reasons: I don’t read his books, and I don’t watch too much Fox News, which Newt frequents regularly.
But Gingrich is an interesting character in the Republican Party. He was the leader in the last Republican revolution, and was able to coalesce the various conservative beliefs into a useful platform. Sound familiar? Additionally, Newt is a political genius. If it weren’t for the genius of Bill Clinton intruding on this period, Newt may have been considered the best politician of his generation. But the difference between the two was not intellect, but ability to distill ideas into a singular message; Clinton was a pure maestro at it, while Newt was only average. He still is criticized for going from one issue to another, without focusing on the grander scheme of things.
Gingrich is now refocusing on the next revolution. Many hypothesize that Newt is considering a run in 2012. If so, I would be wary. There are enough skeletons in that closet to derail any presidential aspirations, in my humble opinion. I could be wrong. He has lent his name and ideas to several young and rising Republican Congressman, like Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and others.
Gingrich’s plan against Democrats and President Obama in particular is simple: divide and conquer. Obama campaigned as a moderate, and the country (despite proof to the contrary) view him this way. However, the same public recognizes that Pelosi, Reid, and other Democrats have swung far to the left. Polls show this dichotomy, as approval of Congress is still pathetic. Gingrich simply says pull Obama to the middle. If he is not pure rhetoric, then he must accept some Republican ideas, most of which are despised by the far left.
But don’t think Mr. Gingrich will shy from a fight. This week, he compared the Obama Administration’s attack on Rush Limbuagh to Richard Nixon’s enemy list; there can be no higher insult than that for a Democrat. And he compared Rahm Emanuel to Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. Yikes.
But at the same time, Gingrich sees no gain in attacking Obama directly. He is relatively popular, and the Republicans are not. They are better served by following their ideas, and let that choose their path. When Obama moves to the center, Gingrich is all for supporting the President. But he thinks what is more likely is that Obama will move to the left, to avoid fighting within his own ranks. That kind of shift, in the long run, would give Republicans more ability to tactically attack both the President and Democrats at large.
The recently passed Stimulus plan was a symbol of that. Obama had a choice; stay moderate and try to reduce frivolous spending in the bill, or allow liberal Democrats to blindly add spending packages gift-wrapped as stimulus. Obama chose the latter, which then gave Republicans the leeway to vote against the measure. And although ultimately Obama succeeded, the seeds of doubt are growing. Polls show the majority of Americans believe that the stimulus will either have a negative or no effect on improving economic conditions. Pretty soon, this will be Obama’s economy, for good or bad.
The budget will be the next, and greatest, battleground. The budget is the biggest salvo in the liberal march to repeal all remnants of Reaganism. Will the Republicans sit idly by while Obama increases the size of government and the debt astronomically, or will they stand for something? Maybe the larger question is will the public blindily support this much spending in the hope that it helps the economy, or will they realize that this kind of budgetary spending almost never has much stimulative effect? And will the public really accept the falsehood (dare I say lie) that only the wealthy will see an increase in their taxes to pay for this spending? Republicans, for the first time in many years, have the opportunity to redefine themselves. I, and Newt, are hoping they grab the opportunity.