Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Question for Conservatives

Newt? Really? Y'all know that he's not, you know, a reliable conservative, right?

(I don't mean that he's not a Burkean conservative, which he obviously isn't, but that's not relevant here; I mean he's not a reliable conservative by current movement conservative standards).

11 comments:

  1. Keep in mind this is South Carolina, who I'd say love resentment. Remember the Secession Ball? Newt probably does resentment better than the other remaining candidates, thus the win.

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  2. I've thought you've under-estimated Newt for awhile now with your absolutist position that he can't possibly be the nominee. (See Nate Silver @ http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/did-gingrichs-win-break-the-rules/)

    After S.C., in light of Silver's article, and after Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Joe Miller in '10 (not to mention the dozens of other questionable Republicans who were nominated and elected), surely you've got to concede at this point that Gingrich has a legitimate shot at the nomination however distasteful that may be.

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    1. A legitimate shot, perhaps, but a very long one. Florida is a much greater challenge for Newt. It is larger and the media markets are expensive, placing a great strain on Newt's resources and increasing the advantage of Romney's deep pockets. Newt will have to rely to an even greater extent than heretofore on free exposure in debates and the media, a dangerous proposition since it means he can make no big errors, or even no medium ones. And after Florida what? Newt has no real chance of defeating Romney in Michigan, and Super Tuesday will be all the problems of Florida written across miles and miles. All told, shorting Newt looks like an extremely good investment.

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    2. At this time, Newt has as much money as Sheldon Adelson gives him. A big check from Adelson and Newt will have the cash to compete in FL.

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  3. Gingrich isn't really a Christine O'Donnell though, for precisely the reason Jonathan says. Sharron Angle was weird in a distinctly conservative way. Newt Gingrich's weirdness, on the other hand, manifests itself with a genuine willingness to break with conservativism when he feels like it.

    What I'd take away from Silver's article is that Republican voters are being uncharacteristically willing to try out new candidates. But with Presidential primaries they have ample opportunity to change their mind. (As they have repeatedly done over the course of this primary season.)

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  4. What's really interesting about this primary season is that for the first time in the past several years, it isn't being fueled as much by a desperate attempt to appeal to some far out fringe element. Everyone knows Gingrich's past and his work with Democrats, and they're willing to support him anyway. Everyone knows about Romney's flip flops on what many consider "key" social issues, and they're willing to support him anyway. For the first time in recent memory, it actually seems like people are voting with a very pragmatic "Who can get things done?" mindset instead of expecting some perfect candidate to rise up and win them over. I actually think that this is a good thing for politics in the sense some of the arguably irrelevant criteria about a candidate (with respect to the problems the country faces right now) are being largely ignored while people pay attention to what their plans are to start getting the overall economy, etc. back on track. South Carolina had a startling (possibly historic) high number of people claim that the debates were important in deciding who to vote for, and lazy voters generally don't watch debates so I'm encouraged that people are actually trying to become informed about their options for 2012 instead of base their votes off vague feelings of likability and empty taglines. That's my hope, anyway.

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  5. I think Newt has held conventional conservative views. He has always been for lower taxes, pro gun and anti abortion. He has not been for smaller government but neither has anyone in the GOP except Ron Paul.

    I don't think Newt was a reliable leader. He is too scatterbrained with dubious programs and can't control his mouth. I think being a pundit suits his personality better then holding high office. If he did not have a huge ego he would recognize that someone who ditched two wives, was fined by the House, was fired by his fellow congressmen and took 1.5 million from Freddie Mac is not the GOP strongest candidate.

    I disagree with Matt M comment when says the voters are basing their decisions on economic plans. Newt owes his victory from attacking the press not because of his economic platform.

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  6. No one is a reliable conservative, by current movement conservative standards.

    For decades, movement conservatives supported the individual health insurance mandate, cap and trade, the EITC, housing vouchers, Keynesian stimulus in a down economy, etc.

    So it's not about policies, it's about projecting resentment (especially in SC). Romney is faking it pretty hard, but Newt lives and breathes it.

    Romney will still win, of course, because most of the party kinda hates Newt. The Romney machine will turn back on the attacks, like they did with great success in Iowa, as we head to Florida, Ohio, and the rest. But when it comes to the emotional gratification that determines Republican allegiance, Newt is the best choice. It's foolish to bring up policies; Republicans don't have policy preferences.

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  7. Newt is now 9 points ahead in Florida and tied or in the lead nationally in most major polls. This is not a boomlet since Romney has shot his wad and the populist yahoos who have been exploited by corporatists and neo cons for thirty years will never accept such a transparent Wall Streeter and crony capitalist as their standard bear since it exposes, for all the world to see, that they have simply been duped for 30 years. And the one thing about right wing rank and file, they never admit they're wrong about anything, ever. Never, ever. You guys will have Gingrich as your candidate and now the question turns to electability. The ex Confederate states will all stay red in 2012, assuring Gingrich of 200 electoral votes. He will win Indiana and maybe New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado since he has craftily taking on the party over immigration and thus will appeal to hispanic voters. He will win Indiana, Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, The Dakotas. The election will come down to Ohio, as it always does, plus Virginia and the rust belt states. He will, in other words, do about as well as Romney, though Romney would have a better shot at New Hampshire. Thus, the odds are about 40-60 we will have a Gingrich presidency in 2012. Pack your suitcases, friends, the end is nigh!

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    1. That's a little alarmist. 40-60 for Newt is really generous to Newt. While rank and file Republicans might like him over Romney because Romney has the personality of cardboard, you're forgetting that independents likely won't support Newt.

      Newt has a lot of baggage in a general and Republicans are really trying to frame this election as "Obama vs Not Obama". That strategy only works if your "Not Obama" doesn't have any majorly offensive flaws to mainstream voters.

      All that said, I think this primary election will turn into Base vs Party Elites and we'll see if the Money is stronger than the Base. My bet is that it is.

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  8. It's not alarmist if you understand that the GOP has had an 180-200 electoral lock in Southern states and these will vote red whether it's Mitt or Newt. If it's Newt, show me the solid states for Obama aside from New England and the Pacific Coast (and Ilinois). This election will be frighteningly close. Further, we are seeing in the nomination process a repeat of what we saw in the 2010 Congressional races like the ones where Sharon Angle, Christine O'Donnell, etc defeated the party favorite. EVen Hatch of Utah came close to being Tea Partied out of a job. In a battle between the party and the Tea Party insurgency (with Gingrich in the O'Donnell/Angle role) only a fool would bet on the party apparatus to deliver the goods. Which is why you saw Jeb Bush pull back from an endorsement of Romney in Florida. These guys know the insurgency is far stronger than they are and they don't dare make enemies of those guys. So, a challenge: which states does Obama carry and which Gingrich? I say it's close -- closer than Obama McCain...

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