Free Markets, Free People

Newt Gingrich

Axlerod on Gingrich

What is it with these guys that they feel they have to come up with stuff like this?

"The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt."

Good thing no one has said something like this about our black president.  However, Axlerod should know that his man is waaaay up that pole and his posterior has been hanging out there for all to see for years.  And it is not a pretty sight, politically speaking.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Politics: Here’s something to chew on for the right

Charlie Cook is a greatly respected political analyst who works mostly for the Democrats.  But he knows the business and he has a great track record.  He said something in a recent column about the GOP field that just rings true to me.  I wanted to get it out there a) for discussion and b) for the record.  I’m interested to see if his prediction comes true for the reasons he advances:

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that, just as in a marathon, things like stamina, preparation, discipline, and focus matter. To win this marathon of a presidential nomination contest, one might add money, organization, depth, and layers of campaign expertise and skilled manpower to the list of what actually matters in this race. Even the grassroots efforts of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, and Howard Dean had some degree of infrastructure. Each of them also had a brain trust that existed beyond what resides under one head of hair and between two ears. That’s why I remain very skeptical that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will end up being the nominee, and will be pretty surprised if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney doesn’t. Exciting or not, Romney is the only one who has carefully put together the building blocks necessary to construct a winning nomination campaign.

Obviously there’s the possibility of a surprise here … personality and charisma (and no mistakes) overtaking good organization and money.  But there’s also a history that tells us that’s not often the case.   And we are talking about Newt Gingrich here, who can implode in a heartbeat as we’ve all observed over the decades he’s been in the public eye.

I’ve read a number of reports that the Gingrich campaign is not the model of organization and it lacks a significant grassroots base.  As the race nears the primaries of next year, those are going to be increasingly important to Gingrich’s chances.   Meanwhile, Romney, regardless of your thoughts about him as the candidate, has, as Cook points out “carefully put together the building blocks necessary to construct a winning nomination campaign”.

Note the specifics of his point: he’s constructed a “winning nomination campaign”.   This is a drive and an organization tailored to a specific goal – the nomination.  He’s been building it for years.  Gingrich, on the other hand, has been pretty much campaigning on a wing and a prayer.  Cook is of the opinion that will come to hurt him as this process goes on and I tend to agree with him.

Your thoughts?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Newt, Mitt and the incumbent Democrat

I’m not much of a Paul Begala fan, but in fact, like a blind pig will eventually find an acorn, he’s gotten this one right.  Why is Newt Gingrich in ascension?  Well because the ABR crowd’s latest candidate, Herman Cain, imploded.

ABR you ask?  Anybody But Romney.

Begala:

More likely the Gingrich surge is just the latest Republican tulip craze (count the pedantic historical references I use in Newt’s honor!)—with Newt simply serving as the latest vessel for the ABR movement: Anybody But Romney.

Mitt Romney has been running for president nonstop for about five years now. And he has gone from 25 percent in the 2007 Iowa caucuses to 18 percent in the latest Bloomberg poll of Iowa voters. He’s the Harold Stassen of 2012. Face it, Mitt: they’re just not that into you.

Republicans, apparently, will date anyone before they’ll marry Mitt. Remember their brief fling with Donald Trump? Then, after he decided not to throw his hair into the ring, they fell for Michele Bachmann, the Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya of the far right. Then it was Rick Perry—the guy who claims he jogs with a loaded gun (without a safety) tucked into his shorts. And now that they’ve tired of Herman Cain’s, umm, hands-on style of leadership, it’s Newt’s turn.

Begala’s point is fairly obvious but true.

However, there’s a very important point to be made despite that.   A recent poll found that Obama, Romney and Gingrich are statistically tied in the swing states.  Romney, as Begala and others point out, isn’t even the consensus GOP pick.  In fact, the GOP voters are willing to look at everyone else to see if any of them provide a suitable replacement for Romney.  And even the candidate they’d prefer to replace Romney with is tied with the incumbent Democrat.

That isn’t good news for Democrats if you think about it.  If the guy that is the last pick of the GOP faithful (or so it seems) is able to tie the incumbent president in swing states, how bad will it be when the GOP (and supporters) finally pick one candidate and get behind him (even Romney)?

Begala thinks Gingrich would be a “gift” to Democrats.  He’s right to an extent.  But the Republican’s gift is sitting in the White House right now. He actually has to run on a record this time, and it’s not an enviable record.  While it is true that Republicans are still trying to find their man (or woman), there are indicators such as that poll that say that regardless of who they choose, even if it is a baggage laden Gingrich, Obama has big trouble. 

So far those like Paul Begala choose to ignore that point.  Their intent now is to attack the GOP candidates personally as they’ve always done in the past (remember Begala comes from the Clinton campaign where the politics of personal destruction were raised to an art form) and hope they manage to demonize the Republican pick enough to let their guy slip by.  It’s about the only hope they have.

Gingrich will provide a target rich opportunity there.   But, given the incumbent, will it be enough?  I’m not so sure.  I’m certainly not convinced that Gingrich will prevail, but I do think that Democrats right now are either in denial or simply not aware of how deep the electoral trouble is that their candidate is in.  Whoever the GOP chooses, he will not play John McCain to this election year’s Barack Obama.

While everything is mostly focused on the GOP and their interminable debate cycle, at some point, Obama has to step out of the shadows and actually begin his run.  That’s when the real games will begin, and I’m not sure the Democrats yet understand that much of the fire the GOP candidates are now receiving will shift to Obama when that happens. 

It ain’t gonna be pretty when it does.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 13 Oct 11

In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss Obama’s “Americans are lazy” comment, the failing EU. and the presidential race.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Looking for Ronald Reagan

A poll out today shows that even with all the early debates and attention GOP presidential candidates have gotten to this point, most Republican voters remain uncommitted:

About eight in 10 Republican primary voters say it is still too early to tell whom they will support, and just four in 10 say they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Herman Cain, the former restaurant executive, is riding a wave of support among Republican primary voters that has placed him in a statistical dead heat with rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a race that has been characterized by momentum swings among the candidates.

The poll found Mr. Cain with the highest level of support, with 25 percent of Republican primary voters, and Mr. Romney with 21 percent. This difference is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

Adding to the fluidity of the contest, about one in 10 Republican primary voters say they would like to see someone else nominated.

As bad as President Obama might be, it is clear that there is no particular love to be found for the present Republican field.   Perry has all but imploded, Bachman continues to marginalize herself, Paul has a rabid but small contingent of supporters but can never seem to get beyond that, Gingrich has way too much baggage, Santorum is a marginal candidate at best and Mitt Romney is the nominee of last resort.

The reason, in my opinion, that Herman Cain has risen in the polls is because he comes from a background of business success.  He reflects a desire by many to have someone who can take the reins of the government and steer in such a way that it becomes a help to our economy, not a hindrance and drag.  His increased support speaks to a desire for someone in office with economic and business experience.  

But I think there’s also a great desire, so far unfulfilled, for someone who has a clear vision that can be articulated and that captures the imagination and revives the spirit.  And while Cain may fill the practical side of the equation, at least to an acceptable extent, he’s not been able to fulfill the “vision quest” part.   As gifted an orator as he might be and despite the fact he’s got practical and successful business he’s not been able to persuade enough Republican voters to come to his side to put him in the unassailable lead.

And of course neither have any of the others.

Republicans are still looking for Ronald Reagan.  A man or woman who can not only lift the malaise but lift the spirit as well.   Who can not only apply practical principled solutions to our problems but make America feel good about itself again. 

Right now, that person isn’t yet in the race, or if he or she is, they’ve not emerged as such.   This country is in desperate want of inspiration, reassurance and practical experience.   The current candidates just aren’t measuring up to that want or need.   Thus the poll results.

Is there a Ronald Regan out there?  Is there a candidate that will finally step forward and fulfill those voter wants as Reagan did when running against Jimmy Carter.

I often wonder what the outcome might have been had any of these candidates running for the GOP nomination today had been the choice against Carter.  I’m not so sure Carter would have lost.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Gingrich a bit delusional

Seriously -  and that’s one thing you can say about the Gingrich effort, you can’t take it seriously – what is it about the egos of some of these folks?

On conservative radio host Neil Boortz’ show this morning, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich concocted an almost endearingly farcical explanation for his campaign’s latest woes, saying the media targeted him because he was best-positioned to beat President Obama. The media desperately wants to reelect President Obama, Gingirich said, and thus he was their “worst nightmare.” “I didn’t think they would realize this early just how dangerous this campaign is and go after it so hard,” he said.

Here’s a guy who has more baggage than Delta Airlines, has now suffered the second staff walk out, consistently polls at the bottom of the field among his supposed base and he still has the temerity to claim that he’s in such sorry shape because the media is out to get him only because his candidacy would have Obama shaking in his boots?

Really?

On what freakin’ planet?

Gingrich’s campaign implosion has had absolutely nothing to do with the media.  It certainly has nothing to do with any effort by opponents.  It is all his.  He owns it … no one else. 

Perhaps it is comforting to him to look on the ruin of his effort and pretend that he’s Obama’s “worst nightmare”, but in fact, he’s his own “worst nightmare” and he’s proven it handily.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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McCain– Palin can beat Obama

Someone, somewhere has to understand that whatever John McCain says, one should bet their house on the opposite:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he thinks Sarah Palin could defeat President Obama in next year’s presidential election, but he’s far from certain that she will actually jump into the race.

The GOP’s standard-bearer in 2008 also shrugged off his former running mate’s poor standing in many polls, saying she would have the opportunity to turn that around if she did make a bid for the White House.

If Newt Gingrich has more baggage than Delta Airlines, Sarah Palin isn’t far behind.  Not necessarily because she earned all the baggage, although she’d done her fair share of contributing to the pile, but right or wrong, she’s loaded with it.   While she is and can remain a force in GOP politics, the presidency isn’t in her future.  And that’s especially so if John McCain, whose campaign was instrumental in helping the woman begin her baggage collection with the inept way she was handled, says so.

Frankly I’d love to see someone on the Republican side drive McCain to an early retirement (ok, not so early, certainly not early enough, how about just retirement).  He’s had his day and needs to be out of the scene.   A man more concerned with “campaign finance laws” than free speech has no business in government in a free country. 

As for Sarah Palin – rabble-rouse lady, make the left squirm, do all the things you do so well right now.  You do that well and  I love to see them prove almost daily that they embody what they claim is endemic to the right.   The irony is sweet.   But run for President?  That type of movie is still running in Washington DC as we speak and I don’t care to see a sequel. 

Somewhere out there in this great land there has to be someone better than the present GOP field, with or without Sarah Palin.  Adding her  to it doesn’t improve it one bit.  John McCain saying she could beat Obama is as ignorant as many of the other things he’s said in the past, to include saying he prefers clean government over free speech.

Why anyone would give it credence at all is beyond me.  All I can figure is Palin must have some pictures she’s holding that has McCain by the short and curlies. 

I don’t know of a single well constructed poll anywhere which gives Palin even a ghost of a chance against Obama.  So all one can figure is McCain pulled this out of the place his head usually occupies.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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One man’s opinion–Iowa Republican tells Gingrich to drop out of race

The fact that I agree with the Iowan is the basis of the post:

As he was getting ready to leave a speaking engagement Dubuque resident Russell Fuhrman approached him in the lobby of the Holiday Inn:

“Get out now before you make a bigger fool of yourself,” Fuhrman said directly to Gingrich.

Gingrich, visibly stunned, quickly moved forward to talk with other guests.

The reason Gingrich was visibly stunned, one assumes, is he doesn’t expect to hear such things from ordinary people, especially those he thinks should welcome his candidacy.  And, of course, few politicians do – they live in a bubble most of the time, expecting some flak from the other side, but essentially expecting relatively smooth sailing from their own side – a few bumps, but no bruises.  This was a big fat bruise.

Frankly, I like it.  It is high time some of these egos had a little air let out of them.  And Gingrich’s ego is quite inflated. 

As might be expected, he’s in full tilt denial mode about his former endorsement of the individual mandate:

On Monday, Mr. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, sought to explain away just that kind of Sunday-morning pontification, in which he blasted the budget by his Republican colleagues in Congress and endorsed an individual mandate for health insurance.

“I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals,” Mr. Gingrich said in a new video released Monday. “I fought it for two and half years at the Center for Health Transformation. You can see all the things we did to stop it at HealthTransformation.net. I am for the repeal of Obamacare and I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional.”

Nonsense.  And the man in Iowa makes it clear Gingrich is going to have a very rough time selling that.

Gingrich was trying to “walk back” this:

“I agree that all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. And I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy,” Mr. Gingrich told the host David Gregory. “I’ve said consistently, where there’s some requirement you either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you’re going to be held accountable.”

Well this is one libertarian that isn’t happy at all – Gingrich, despite his denials and in spite of his weasel wording, still supports a federal mandate of some sort as has been clear for years.  As I pointed out previously, this is nothing new:

At an Alegent Health event in Omaha in 2008, Gingrich said it was "fundamentally immoral" for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand free care.

During the keynote address to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council’s annual Health Trends Conference in April 2006, Gingrich said he would require Americans earning above a certain income level to buy health insurance or post a bond, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a June 2007 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Gingrich wrote, "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." An "individual mandate," he added, should be applied "when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed."

And in several of his many policy and politics-focused books, Gingrich offered much the same.

In 2008′s "Real Change," he wrote, "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."

In 2005′s "Winning the Future," he expanded on the idea in more detail: "You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system."

"People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance," he continued. "Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. Furthermore, it should be possible to buy your health insurance on-line to lower the cost as much as possible."

Gingrich is now trying to waive that off as just being a bit “wonky”.

Newt Gingrich has acknowledged that his tendency to spout off like a political analyst might get him into trouble on the campaign trail.

Unfortunately for Gingrich, most of us who’ve followed what he’s said don’t consider what he said Sunday as “being wonky”.   Instead, it is a position, as you can see, he’s held for years. 

In sum we have the usual happening – another politician engaged in a desperate attempt to waive off past words and pretend he didn’t mean them, while assuming you’ll swallow the latest politically necessary words and positions as the “real” him. 

Like the Iowan said, Mr. Gingrich, “Get out now before you make a bigger fool of yourself.”

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Gingrich–GOP plan for Medicare “Right-wing social engineering”, backs Obama’s insurance mandate

This is the major reason why Newt Gingrich shouldn’t get anywhere near the GOP nomination:

White House hopeful Newt Gingrich called the House Republican plan for Medicare "right-wing social engineering," injecting a discordant GOP voice into the party’s efforts to reshape both entitlements and the broader budget debate.

In the same interview Sunday, on NBC’s "Meet the Press," Mr. Gingrich backed a requirement that all Americans buy health insurance, complicating a Republican line of attack on President Barack Obama’s health law.

Yup, he’s a bomb-thrower with lefty leanings.  About as succinct as I can make it.  He’s one of those guys who believes in using government for “social engineering” even while denouncing something as social engineering.

Later Sunday, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he also acknowledged that many Republicans are uncomfortable with requiring insurance coverage but challenged them to offer an alternative solution. "Most Republican voters agree with the principle that people have some responsibility to pay for their costs," he said.

Here’s a thought – stay the hell out of my health care?

That’s the problem with politicians like Gingrich – despite all the rhetoric on the right about smaller less intrusive government, they keep coughing up candidates like Gingrich who always seem to find “solutions” in government.  My alternate solution?  Back off!  Change the law to allow insurance to be sold over state lines, get it out of the hands of employers, drop all the coverage mandates by government and let the market begin to work and shape the insurance product instead of government.

That’s my alternate solution.  And you’d think a so-called Republican would be out there pushing something like it – instead of jumping on the lefty bandwagon by calling a genuine effort to back government out of the medical care business “right-wing social engineering”.

Republicans – you have both Gingrich and Romney trying to make the unacceptable acceptable.  Is that what you want in the White House?

Bah.

Go make another commercial with Pelosi, Newt.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Why Romney and Gingrich can never be President

Or perhaps I should caveat that by saying “should” never be President, given the current occupant who also “should” never have been President.

Romney gave his major health care speech yesterday in which he sounded like he was running as Obama’s VP.  It was totally unconvincing.  As Avik Roy says at NRO:

Mitt Romney just gave a more articulate defense of Obamacare than President Obama ever has. He continues to believe that the individual mandate is a good idea, despite the fact that the “free-rider” problem is a myth. His effort to make a distinction between Romneycare and Obamacare was not persuasive: If anything, he convincingly made the opposite case, that Romneycare and Obamacare are based on the same fundamental concept.

For him to have any credibility with the right and GOP voters, he had a simple mission: tell them why he signed RomneyCare into law in MA, why it was a mistake and why he was going to fight to repeal ObamaCare.

He did none of those things and thus became, at least in my eyes, an unviable candidate.  He obviously has absolutely no problem with the level of government interference in the health care market and certainly isn’t going to be a champion of backing government out of it if elected.  In fact, of all sources, the New York Times nails the problem (albeit coming at it from a different direction than me):

Tearing it down [RomneyCare] might help him politically, he said, but “it wouldn’t be honest.” He said he did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, makes sense to prevent people from becoming free riders, getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.

Where he went off the rails, however, was in not acknowledging that that same logic applies to the nation. Mr. Romney tried desperately to pivot from praising his handiwork in Massachusetts to trashing the very same idea as adapted by Mr. Obama. His was an efficient and effective state policy; Mr. Obama’s was “a power grab by the federal government.”

He tried to justify this with a history lesson on federalism and state experimentation, but, in fact, he said nothing about what makes Massachusetts different from its neighbors or any other state. And why would he immediately repeal the Obama mandate if elected president? Because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while all he wanted was to insure the uninsured.

That distinction makes no sense, and the disconnect undermines the foundation of Mr. Romney’s candidacy.

I absolutely agree.  In fact, the problem isn’t federalism and state experimentation, it is a principle – government, at any level, doesn’t have the right to compel a person to buy something if they choose not too.  One of the nasty little problems with big government types is that freedom allows too many choices and Romney is no different than those on the left who’d like to pare those choices down for their convenience and to extend the power and control of government (and their central planning efforts).

Newt Gingrich, who recently joined the run for the presidency, is no different than Romney as his record tells us and don’t let him try to fool you into thinking otherwise.  Huffington Post gives a partial list of the times Gingrich has touted health insurance mandates or attempted to argue in their favor from a moral perspective:

At an Alegent Health event in Omaha in 2008, Gingrich said it was "fundamentally immoral" for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand free care.

During the keynote address to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council’s annual Health Trends Conference in April 2006, Gingrich said he would require Americans earning above a certain income level to buy health insurance or post a bond, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a June 2007 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Gingrich wrote, "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." An "individual mandate," he added, should be applied "when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed."

And in several of his many policy and politics-focused books, Gingrich offered much the same.

In 2008’s "Real Change," he wrote, "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."

In 2005’s "Winning the Future," he expanded on the idea in more detail: "You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system."

"People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance," he continued. "Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. Furthermore, it should be possible to buy your health insurance on-line to lower the cost as much as possible."

Show me the difference between Gingrich and Obama (or Romney) on their desire to use the power of government to mandate insurance coverage.  The fact that Gingrich draws a line at a particular level of income doesn’t change the fact that in principal he agrees that government should have that power.

Just as serious a problem, at least for me, is Gingrich’s stance on global warming.  Gingrich appeared in a commercial for the “We initiative” with Nancy Pelosi.  The We Initiative is sponsored by Al Gore’s “Alliance for Climate Protection”. 

This alone is reason enough, in my book, to totally dismiss a Gingrich run.

 

 

Add in his support for an individual mandate for health insurance and his candidacy is DOA as far as I’m concerned. And Romney? On life support with a poor prognosis for the future.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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