Herman Cain seems to have more or less survived his sexual harassment accusations, and Rick Perry failed to disgrace himself (thus doing much better) in last night’s debate at South Carolina’s Wofford College, but the evidence is clear that neither of these two likeable guys has the substantive knowledge or the communication abilities needed to be elected.
Personally, I wrote off New Gingrich back in 2007 as a possible GOP nominee in 2008 for coming out in support of Warmism. As recently as last May, Newt Gingrich was attacking the Paul Ryan budget proposal.
Michael Brendan Doughtery, just a couple of days ago, drew up a little list of Newt Gingrich’s sins, and asked How is Gingrich an improvement on Mitt Romney?
But if one accepts the viewpoint that the process is meaningful, the long series of Republican debates have seriously raised Gingrich’s status and claim to represent the viable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Other candidates who inspired hope have delivered disappointing performances. Mitt Romney has been polished and smooth. But only Newt Gingrich has demonstrated a superior ability to discuss issues and policies with a penetrating and original intelligence and with wit and humor. Gingrich is frequently a pleasure to listen to.
Hayward makes the point which has occurred to me as well, that Gingrich is significantly redeeming himself precisely by the old-fashioned and unconventional way that he has chosen to seek the nomination and the presidency.
Newt is doing something interesting and maybe profound: he is trying to run for president according to an older model that stresses substance over sound bytes and gimmicky, targeted campaign strategy. … It is a bid to see whether presidential politics can still be conducted along the line of the old republic that would be more familiar to the Founders, to the style of public argument more akin to what Hamilton had in mind in talking about â€œrefining and enlarging the public viewâ€ through â€œreflection and choiceâ€ in Federalist #1.
It seems increasingly evident that we are going to have to oppose Barack Obama with a lesser figure than Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater. We simply do not have a peerless champion of Conservatism that we can nominate. But, God knows, even a mediocre, unprincipled Republican, some would argue even a syphilitic camel would represent an enormous improvement over Barack Obama.
If push came to shove, we would have to support Mitt Romney over Obama. It seems impossible to avoid concluding that the best hope of a more seriously conservative nominee is going to be Newt Gingrich. (There. It hurts, but I said it.)