Free Markets, Free People

NY-23: What Has Gringrich Been Smoking?

Usually I’m in the camp that thinks Newt Gingrich is a pretty good political ideas man (and, frankly, believe that is the only role he should play in politics). But if you’ve been watching this Scozzafava/Hoffman dustup in NY-23, you have to wonder if someone dropped him on his head recently.

Here he is on Greta Van Susteren’s show talking about it and pushing the candidacy of a person anyone would objectively call a liberal Republican candidate. In fact, even Gingrich concedes that:

GINGRICH: Well, I just find it fascinating that my many friends who claim to be against Washington having too much power, they claim to be in favor of the 10th Amendment giving states back their rights, they claim to favor local control and local authority, now they suddenly get local control and local authority in upstate New York, they don’t like the outcome.

There were four Republican meetings. In all four meetings, State Representative Dede Scozzafava came in first. In all four meetings, Mr. Hoffman, the independent, came in either last or certainly not in the top three. He doesn’t live in the district. Dede Scozzafava…

VAN SUSTEREN: He doesn’t live in the district?

GINGRICH: No, he lives outside of the district. Dede Scozzafava is endorsed by the National Rifle Association for her 2nd Amendment position, has signed the no tax increase pledge, voted against the Democratic governor’s big-spending budget, is against the cap-and-trade tax increase on energy, is against the Obama health plan, and will vote for John Boehner, rather than Nancy Pelosi, to be Speaker.

Now, that’s adequately conservative in an upstate New York district. And on other issues, she’s about where the former Republican, McHugh, was. So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that whether they’re from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don’t think so. And I don’t think it’s a good precedent. And I think if this third party candidate takes away just enough votes to elect the Democrat, then we will have strengthened Nancy Pelosi by the divisiveness. We will not have strengthened the conservative movement.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is it that they have identified as why they think the independent candidate…

GINGRICH: Well, there’s no question, on social policy, she’s a liberal Republican.

VAN SUSTEREN: On such as abortion?

GINGRICH: On such as abortion, gay marriage, which means that she’s about where Rudy Giuliani was when he became mayor. And yet Rudy Giuliani was a great mayor. And so this idea that we’re suddenly going to establish litmus tests, and all across the country, we’re going to purge the party of anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100 percent — that guarantees Obama’s reelection. That guarantees Pelosi is Speaker for life. I mean, I think that is a very destructive model for the Republican Party.

First Gingrich tries to classify Hoffman as a 3rd party candidate. But while he’ll run under the “Conservative party” banner, he’s a conservative Republican.  If elected he’ll caucus with the Republicans and he’ll most likely vote with them – probably more than Scozzafava would. And I would guess, given his conservative leanings, he too will be endorsed by the NRA, would sign a no tax increase pledge, would be against cap-and-trade, the health care debacle and would certainly vote for Boehner over Pelosi for Speaker.

Secondly, Gingrich is trying to sell the idea that only an “endorsed” Republican has any right to run. By gosh they met, they chose and Hoffman wasn’t the one. We’ve seen how well that’s worked out with other Republicans they’ve picked haven’t we?  It is nonsense on a stick.  But more importantly, for a guy who supposedly has his pulse on all things political, Gingrich is flat missing on this one. A recent Gallup poll has said 40 percent of the country describes itself as conservative. Hoffman is identified as solidly conservative. He now leads by 5 points. It would seem to me he might pick up on the fact that the conservative base is telling the party to quit supporting the Scozzafava’s of the world and start listening to its base. What in the world does Gingrich think all of the tea parties were about – business as usual?  The contest in NY-23 is the manifestation of those protests showing up in a Congressional race.

Lastly, the “good enough for NY” meme he’s running is being disproven to his face. Mr. Bold Ideas is as cautious as an octogenarian with a walker crossing a 4 lane highway about pushing the conservative ideas he supposedly supports in what he considers a hostile environment. He’s ready to settle for less. He’s more than satisfied with the fact that she’s “a liberal Republican” even though, for most of the Republican base, that’s unacceptable.  He’s bought into the conventional wisdom that a conservative can’t win in NY.  But that very base liberal NY is  raising the BS flag.  They’ree tired of not having their  principles represented in Congress.

Now whether or not you agree with the social conservative agenda (and I, for the most part, don’t – this is an analysis, not an endorsement), socialcons are a very large group within the conservative base. They will support the GOP if the GOP runs candidates they like (which explains why McCain did so poorly). They didn’t get that candidate in NY-23 so they’re supporting the type of the Republican they want.  The message to the GOP couldn’t be clearer.   Gingrich knows that, which is why I’m mystified by his seeming denial of the obvious. This isn’t a 3rd party attempt, this isn’t about what the “party” has decided and it isn’t about picking someone “good enough” for NY.  It’s about the base saying in an election what they’ve been saying all across the country in “tea parties” – “Either live up to our principles – all of them – or we’ll find someone who will”. In NY-23, they think they have found that person, and they’re telling the Newt Gingrichs of the Republican party to either figure it out or to pound sand.

Gingrich believes this is a purge of the party that will guarantee the re-election of Obama.  And he claims, invoking the holy name of Ronald Reagan, that’s not how the GOP won in the past:

It means that as somebody who worked with Reagan to create a majority in 1980 and somebody who worked to create a majority in 1994, I believe in a Republican Party big enough to have representation in every part of the country, and I believe you don’t strengthen yourself by having a purge. You strengthen yourself by attracting more people, not by driving people away.

I don’t recall Reagan playing the big tent card at all. I remember Reagan stating his principles, then living by them, and welcoming those who thought like him into to the tent. Gingrich, otoh, is talking about compromising principles to do that. They are not at all the same approach, and he’s too smart to not understand that. What the conservatives in NY-23 are doing is approaching it like Reagan did and they’re attracting supporters. That is the best way to fill the tent if you’re serious about principles. It is certainly not by saying “she’s good enough for NY” but she wouldn’t be good enough for, say, Georgia.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

24 Responses to NY-23: What Has Gringrich Been Smoking?

  • I think you mean “Hoffman,” not “Hampton.” Regardless, I agree with the “WTF” sentiments toward Newt.  I just don’t get it.

  • I believe the candidate’s name is Doug Hoffman …

  • Reading this makes me realize why I am no longer a Republican, there is not room in the tent for a guy that believes in individual liberty and small government.  Because the Democrats are worse than Republicans, I guess I will stay an independant.

  • This doesn’t surprise me about Newt at all. 

    Its his republicans that started their reign by not delivering on its promises.  Then proceeded to expand it governance on that principle. 

    Newt may be a smart guy.  But I think he plays to the crowd.  He’s in politics to be a politician like most of the Republicans.   He wants to maintain flexibility on positions for the sake of survivability.  Or you could say they waffle today so as to avoid future accountability.   Because short term, principles will cost you votes sometimes.  Cut off some form of welfare, and everyone who gets that benefit and their friends and family will make a point to go out and vote against you.  Tough. 

    • I think it’s simple. Newt, a a BSD pace Bonfire of the Vanities, jumped in to endorse the nominee; lending her his BSD credibility. What Newt did not realize is that sometimes there is no first mover advantage. When the dogs decided they did not want to eat the dog food, Newt was stuck with his mug in the bowl.
      How does a BSD do a climb down? He doesn’t. Now he’s stuck with his unfortunate endorsement and has to make the best of it.
      And I agree that they guy needs to get back to doing what he does well, big picture philosophy and strategy. I would never vote for him for two reasons. First, he took on Clinton in 1995 and lost over the budget when he had a stronger hand but played it poorly. Second, anyone committing adultery who decides to take on Clinton over adultery is just too stupid for words.

  • If a bunch of “3rd party” conservative challengers run in close districts and give Pelosi/Obama an even bigger working margin, so be it.
    Maybe the party wallahs will learn the lesson.
    Here’s the problem with the “accept 1/2 a loaf rather than get nothing” theory pushed by Newt. Today you get 1/2 a loaf. OK.  Then next election, they ask you to accept 1/2 a loaf….so now you’re at a 1/4 loaf. And so on and so forth.

    At some point it’s not worth it, and your best bet is demanding MORE of the loaf instead of a shrinking piece of it.

  • Newt also started up K-Street. Which was supposed to get the lobbyists and politicians together so the Republicans could get in on some of the big donor dollars. It worked and the Republicans got to cozy with corruption which led to the Dem take over of the houses in this decade. (I should say helped the Dem take over since there were many reasons)

  • Newt’s just a power hungry pol. His time is up. I think FOX needs to get new conservative blood on their station.
    Put a fork in yourself, Newt.

  • he has been smoking meat.

  • McQ – It would seem to me he [Gingrich] might pick up on the fact that the conservative base is telling the party to quit supporting the Scozzafava’s of the world and start listening to its base.

    And the McCain’s, and the Graham’s, and the Snowe’s, and the Steele’s…

    McQI don’t recall Reagan playing the big tent card at all. I remember Reagan stating his principles, then living by them, and welcoming those who thought like him into to the tent.

    I think that this is an absolutely key point.  A party / candidate that doesn’t have some core, uncompromising principles is a fraud.  Yeah, they might win on occasion (you can fool some of the people…), but, over the long run, they are doomed.  People respect a principled stand.  They respect honesty.  They DON’T respect being hustled by a slick conman who lives by polls and simply tells them what he thinks they want to hear on any given day.

    And how do you build a party/ movement if there are no core principles?  Why should a person identify as (for example) a Republican if the GOP is today pro-life, and tomorrow pro-abortion?  If today it is for small government, and tomorrow for bigger government?

    Newt GingrichThere were four Republican meetings. In all four meetings, State Representative Dede Scozzafava came in first. In all four meetings, Mr. Hoffman, the independent, came in either last or certainly not in the top three.

    Sorry, Newt: Republicans and ESPECIALLY conservatives are not the sort who can be lead about like sheep by their party elite (ask President Bush about this with regard to amnesty).  To say that, essentially, “We’ve decided what’s best for you, now shut up and do what we tell you” is nauseatingly elitist and, frankly, the sort of attitude I’d expect from a democrat.

  • “There were four Republican meetings.”

    Uh huh. Four meetings to represent how many Republicn voters? And who was at those meetings? My guess is the party poohbahs and their claques.

    I like Newt. He has had some good ideas and done some good things. He is worth listening to. He is also worth ignoring from time to time.  Like now, when he thinks that HE knows more than the Rep. rank and file in NY who seem to disagree with him.

  • Parties exist purely to win votes and get elected. Gingrich is a Republican partisan.
    The Republicans have a choice, though: they can be the party of “not Democrats,” or they can pick some principles and stick to them. They have been picking the former for a while, now, and only winning when the Democrats mess up. If they don’t start picking the latter, they will continue their decline: their membership has decided “not Democrats” is not good enough.
    Which, by the way, is why they hate Palin so much. She has picked principles, and the unprincipled cannot abide the principled making the unprincipled look as worthless as they (the unprincipled) are.

  • Isn’t she for Card Check?
    Its one thing to be pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, but card check? Seriously?

    • Harun here is my own take on what the Republican party ought to be, there should be room for conservatives, libertarians, and right of center moderates. But there should never be any place for an out and out left winger. Like the Scozafavva creature. We already have a party for those people. It is called the Democrats.
      It is one thing to state out front that there are two or three issues in which you will not toe the party line, that is ok, but quite another to be against 60% or more of the platform.

  • I can understand why the GOP would feel obligated to endorse whatever Republican got chosen to run. I don’t understand why Newt felt he had to follow the party’s lead.
    That’s the problem: if the party leadership wants to be a bunch of hidebound hacks, let ’em at it.
    But the rest of us don’t have to follow them over the cliff. Sarah and all others were smart enough to recognize who ought to be in a GOP seat; Newt’s just playing the beltway game. Shame on him.

  • “I don’t recall Reagan playing the big tent card at all. I remember Reagan stating his principles, then living by them, and welcoming those who thought like him into to the tent.”
    Reagan was a detour for what the Republicans have been becoming for a long time.  And unfortunately his success swept in a bunch of ‘politician first, principles second’ types who climbed on board the Republican bandwagon making it even worse.

  • VAN SUSTEREN: He doesn’t live in the district?
    GINGRICH: No, he lives outside of the district.

    Ah, if so how did he get on the ballot?  His business is outside of the district but not supposedly his home.

  • As a local, living just outside the district,  I found this interesting, from  Herr Gingrich:

          “Now, that’s adequately conservative in an upstate New York district. ”

    I do believe, after reading that, the man doesn’t know his a$$ from his elbow.  That region is probably the most conservative part of a state that is hugely conservative. For everyone that thinks New York State is a blue state, remember what we natives here have always known: What NYC  wants, NYC gets. The city votes Democrat, usually, and this ‘colors’ the whole state. But that’s Conservative territory up there, mostly farmers and mountain people.

    Also, National Communist Radio and their little sister station hereabouts, North Country Public Radio has made a big deal about Hoffman not agreeing to either of the two debates and instead appearing on Sean Hannity and the Glenn Beck show.

    But, it seems to me, this is a sound tactic for a guy running outside the party. Third party candidates hardly ever do well but getting endorsements from Hannity and Beck will help him up there, more than appearing in a debate will.

  • I saw Gingrich speak at the Aspen Institute in the summer of 2007.  At that time, he had been hanging around with Bill Clinton and he repeatedly stated that “no one should underestimate Hillary Clinton as a candidate” in the then-upcoming presidential election.  While I don’t think Hillary Clinton is much of a politician, noone was underestimating her at tht time.  She was the front runner not just for the Dem. nomination but for the presidency at the time.  I was struck at how mainstream Gingrich had become.  He took such a severe beating in the press he seemed to have capitulated and wanted to rehab his image with the press and the political class.  I think Gingrich is very smart and has great ideas, but he is a has been politically and I don’t think anyone in the republican leadership from the last 2o years understands the tea party sentiment.  It is time for more libertarian Republicans.  They need to de-emphasize (not oppose, just de-emphasize) social conservativism and focus on smaller government, federalism, and government reform (i.e. term limits, eliminating the ability of retired politicians to become lobbyists, prevent anyone in a politician’s immediate family to be a lobbyist, pay as you go requirement for all legislation, etc.).  That kind of focused agenda would win a majority in the next election.  Gingrich seems to be caught up in the “primacy of the federal government” sentiment of the political class.  Enough of that.  Let’s move on.  

  • I am totally confused. Bruce, it seems like you’re saying that Gingrich is out of touch for supporting a socially liberal fiscal conservative and that he should support a socially conservative conservative. What am I missing??
    Part of the problem seems to be that the term “conservative” is being used so broadly and thus differently, especially amongst conservatives. Republicans like McCain, Snowe, G.W. Bush, Lindsay Graham et. al. are quite conservative, where they differ is in what it is they primarily seek to conserve. Generally RINOs value public order and bipartisanship most. Note the problem isn’t that they value public order and bipartisanship, but that they value them more than freedom, which is pretty much the same problem we have with the socially conservative Republicans. They primarily value moral order more than anything else, including individual freedom. Likewise, the problem isn’t that Democrats value social justice, it’s that they value social justice more than freedom. Most Democrats value freedom to one extent or another, they just value social justice more.
    When all of these folks get together and decide our laws, what is the one bargaining chip they all have in common, the one thing they’re all willing to give up in order to achieve their differing primary political objectives? That would be freedom. That’s why we awake each morning to less and  less of it.
    And here we are.