I guess today is a bit of GOP potential candidate day. And the good news is:
Newt Gingrich raised a meager $53,000 into his political action committee in the first three months of the year, highlighting potential fundraising difficulties as the former House Speaker girds for a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
Not going to happen. And thankfully so. Not that I don’t think Gingrich is a good idea man – and that’s where his contribution should come from – but he’d be a sure loser presidential candidate. The man has more baggage than Delta Airlines. And within “family values” circles he’s a non-starter, or should be.
Most importantly, he simply hasn’t got what it takes to attract independent voters and he’d be a lightening rod in a presidential campaign taking much of the attention off of Obama, which, by the way, I think the Obama campaign would welcome for a change. Remember Obama has to run on an actual record this time – and it ain’t so hot.
Gingrich has a very powerful Political Action Committee, American Solutions, which is rolling in dough and gets huge contributions (back to that “ideas man” point I was making above). But that’s quite different than a presidential campaign fund:
But his presidential campaign would not be able to accept such large contributions and would instead be restricted to limited hard money donations of $2,500 per individual — half as much as the $5,000-per-individual maximum contributions that can be accepted each year by his leadership political action committee, American Solutions PAC.
The PAC brought in about $34,000 in March, according to a report filed Tuesday night with the FEC, bringing its total haul for the year to $53,000, and its total since being created in late 2009 to $790,000. That pales in comparison to the $13.7 million raised in 2010 alone by Gingrich’s 527, American Solutions for Winning the Future, which won’t have to report 2011 fundraising figures until July.
Perhaps the best poll of all may be the money poll. I know it is early and he hasn’t really formally put his hat in the ring (he’s doing “exploratory” work at the moment) but what he’s been able to take in thus far is not awe inspiring.
We may revisit this later, but at the moment, the money poll doesn’t look too promising for Newt Gingrich.
This “Ground Zero” mosque controversy has begun to rankle me. It is my understanding that those who want to build the "ground zero" mosque own the property there.
Secondly, it really isn’t adjacent to the old World Trade Center site, but a few blocks away.
Even if it is adjacent, however, if the first part is true, then it is theirs to build what they wish. I may or may not be happy about it, but they are the property owners and what is built there is their business.
The Anti-Defamation League seems to understand that as well, however, under the guise of "doing what is right" it acknowledges the mosque builder’s rights but then dismisses them in favor of the bigotry of those who oppose them. In a statement they said:
Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right. So the bigotry expressed in this is "unfair, and wrong", but to hell with rights, we’ll side with the arbitrary and subjective "what is right".
An amazing statement coming from a group which was founded to fight bigotry against Jews.
Thankfully not all Jews feel that way. They also understand how profoundly wrong headed the ADL’s statement is. From J-Street:
The principle at stake in the Cordoba House controversy goes to the heart of American democracy and the value we place on freedom of religion. Should one religious group in this country be treated differently than another? We believe the answer is no.
As Mayor Bloomberg has said, proposing a church or a synagogue for that site would raise no questions. The Muslim community has an equal right to build a community center wherever it is legal to do so. We would hope the American Jewish community would be at the forefront of standing up for the freedom and equality of a religious minority looking to exercise its legal rights in the United States, rather than casting aspersions on its funders and giving in to the fear-mongerers and pandering politicians urging it to relocate.
Exactly right. Another way of saying all of this is “grow up”. You either have religious freedom and ownership rights or you don’t. It isn’t a “right” if it can be selectively applied under the arbitrary rubric of “what is right” fueled by bigotry.
And, as inevitable as the rising sun, you can count on politicians gearing up for a run for office to grab the populist opportunity to chime in and side with the bigots because it is the popular thing to do. Newt Gingrich issued this statement:
Throughout its nearly 100 year history, the cause of religious tolerance has had no better friend than the Anti-Defamation League. The organization’s stand today in opposition to the proposed 13-story Islamic Center near Ground Zero is entirely in keeping with that tradition. They recognize the provocative nature of the proposal, that its construction will only result in more pain for the families of 9/11 victims and fan the flames of inter-religious strife. Abe Foxman and the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League deserve praise for taking such a careful look at this issue and arriving at the right conclusion.
And Gingrich’s spokesman had this to say:
Newt Ginrich’s spokesman told Salon in a phone interview today that building a mosque at Ground Zero "would be like putting a statue of Mussolini or Marx at Arlington National Cemetery."
That’s pure crap unless you want to make the same comparison to, oh I don’t know, a Catholic church in Spain following the Inquisition.
Look, this is manufactured “outrage” and pure and simple bigotry. We are either a nation of religious tolerance and property rights or we’re not. There’s no in-between. It’s like every other right – you may not like all of what it brings, but that’s just the price of freedom.
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.
Gloria Borger, hardly a right-winger (and certainly an Obama supporter), takes Obama to task about his performance so far in the foreign policy arena:
This is not a column about whether the president should take pictures with — or shake the hands of — unstable foreign leaders who mostly call him names and rant about America.
Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable. A grimace instead of a smile on the face would be better, sure. But it’s not the end of America’s standing in the world, as some are suggesting.
But there is a problem, and it’s not about photo ops. It’s about finding the appropriate tonal response to leaders who say outrageous things about us and about our allies.
What she’s talking about are two recent incidents – one in which Obama was in attendance and the other occurred in the UN when Iran’s Amadinejad called for the destruction of Israel.
In both cases, Obama’s response was essentially a non-response.
Case in point: When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the podium at the United Nations conference in Geneva on Monday to call Israel a “cruel and repressive racist regime,” we might have said something. The European delegates walked out of the conference (we declined to attend), but when asked about the brouhaha later, the State Department spokesman, sticking to the talking points, could only muster that “that type of rhetoric is not helpful and doesn’t help facilitate a constructive dialogue.”
A bit of a chuckle there for me. You know it’s gotten bad when even the Borgers of the world are criticizing the issuance of boilerplate rhetoric in response to what the rest of the West considers to be outrageous and inflammatory words. While not exactly a non-response, the administration comes as close to one as you can with its words.
But the second incident is even worse. Here Borger is talking about Newt Gingrich’s criticism of Obama and claiming he missed his real opportunity:
But the Summit of the Americas gave them an easy opportunity to decry the president’s weakness, not only after his handshake with Chavez but also when he sat quietly through Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s 50-minute anti-American rant.
He didn’t have to walk out, but he could have given a sharper critique of Ortega’s histrionics after the event. Instead, he decided to just give it the back of his hand, saying only that “it was 50 minutes long.”
Its funny, the administration will attack any domestic critic with the full power of its spin machine. And yet, the president sits through a 50 minute anti-American tirade (after one of his advisers declared anti-Americanism was no longer cool in the world) and has no reaction at all.
Tell me, who’s job is it to defend the US if not his? Of course that’s not an easy thing to do if a president engaged in apologizing for the country at every foreign affairs opportunity, is it?
Newt Gingrich lays out a succinct 3 step plan for conservatives in the future. It may seem funny that something like this has to be said, but with conservative Republicans wandering in the political wilderness, it’s obvious it must.
This isn’t rocket science, but it is good advice for just about any political movement.
The conservative movement has a simple and almost certainly successful future if it does three things:
1. Advocate first principles with courage, clarity, persistence and cheerfulness.
2. Insist on developing solutions based on those principles and insist on measuring other proposals against those principles.
3. Be prepared to oppose Republicans when they are wrong and side with Democrats when they are right, but always make the decision to support or oppose a matter of first principles and the application of those principles.
Note the last point. Gingrich isn’t talking about Republicans, although those in charge of the Republican brand could stand to heed the advice.
There’s a reason Gingrich doesn’t use the word “Republican”. It’s because he links this Democratic administration with the past spend-thrift Republican administration:
The Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system continues to grow and to place the country in greater and greater danger from inflation, bureaucratic control of the economy, political interference in every aspect of our lives and massive debt.
Remember, we’re on bailout 5 right now. Both Obama and Biden, when Senators, voted “yes” on the first three and are now in the middle of putting the next two together. So the linkage, in my estimation, is correct. This is as much Obama’s problem as it was Bush’s despite his protestations to the contrary. The last two years have seen the Congress under Democratic control, while the executive branch was Republican. The recession is 17 months old, folks and that split government was in charge before the recession developed.
Gingrich hits on another key point:
While telling the truth, we also have to bear the burden of providing solutions and not merely criticism.
That’s critical. Anyone can criticize. Putting plausible solutions together that adhere to the principles of a movement and also are attractive to the citizenry is no easy job. But that is what any movement that wants to be taken seriously must do.
Gingrich concludes with:
Finally, the conservative movement has to learn to reach out to every American who wants a better future through freedom, hard work and opportunity.
Yes, he’s talking about a “big tent” based on only three requirements: a belief in freedom, hard work and opportunity. Conspicuously absent are mentions of wedge issues that normally are identified with Republican politics.
Gingrich’s separation of “conservative” from “Republican” is a warning shot across the bow of the GOP. Shape up or prepare to hear from conservatives. And if Republicans don’t listen, they should prepare to lose conservative support. Conservatives may be finding a way out of the wilderness. It remains to be seen if Republicans will follow.