23 Jan 2012

Let’s Newt and Him Fight

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R.L.G., writing in the Economist, wants to see the real ideological opponents square off and come out swinging. I’m with him.

[W]atching Mitt Romney pivot to the centre with the smoothness of a consultant flipping to his next slide, a manoeuvre we can all expect him to execute the minute he wraps up the nomination, will be depressingly predictable. The perception that he will say whatever he feels he must to become president is not founded on sand. Mr Gingrich, by contrast, can almost certainly be counted on to be the same Mr Gingrich we’ve seen in the primaries. Say what you like about the man, but he has ideas, says arresting things, and most of all, would make the clearest possible contrast with Barack Obama in the general election.

While some people groan at his idea for a series of “Lincoln-Douglas” debates, for example, I’d relish the chance to see Mr Gingrich and Mr Obama have long and freewheeling exchanges. …

t I can very easily imagine Mr Gingrich repeating the “food-stamp” line in a general-election debate with Mr Obama several feet away. This would be a natural extension of his claim that journalists asking him questions about the story of the day was “despicable”. He is fearless, reckless, filterless; in any way, -less all of the things Mr Romney has too much of.

I want to see Mr Obama reply to “food-stamp president”, to the idea that annoying appeals courts should be de-funded, to the Gingrich claim that he is the most radical president in history, and so much more. I dread the scripted turns the election will take if Mr Romney is the nominee. I think America could use a straight fight between two boldly different visions of America. I don’t expect I’ll get my wish, but a journalist can dream, anyway.

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Votes cast in 2008 election: 130MM
People receiving food stamps: 45MM


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