Gingrich redux

I can't resist — sorry — but I am going to link here to the "Purple Nation" column I wrote for The Hill newspaper and on TheHill.com on June 16, 2011, which was headlined:

"Newt Gingrich — Don’t Count Him Out So Fast"

I know, I know. No need to brag about being prescient. You could say I got lucky. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

But remember what was going on the week I wrote that piece about Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich was in the headlines about his presidential campaign being deader than dead after most of his campaign staff resigned.

I disagree with the conservative Newt Gingrich on many issues — I am a liberal Democrat — but I have always respected his intellect and creativity. I also lost respect for his campaign staffers who not only jumped ship as a large public event, but then offered some anonymously leaked negative comments about the candidate whose horse a few months before they thought would ride them to the White House. And most of the negative comments were about his decision to go on a two-week vacation with his wife!

I also am a contrarian when the Gang-Up of the MPP (the "Mass Political Punditry") declare a political candidate dead — dead — deader than dead.

Well, I tend to presume that when the MPP is all piling on a politician, the opposite may well be the truth.

It is also unfortunate that my fellow liberals have immediately defaulted into a personal attack campaign on Gingrich as soon as he moved up in the polls, rather than challenging him and debating him on the issues.

These are the same liberal cable hosts who denounce (I believe justifiably) the right-wing haters who have attacked President Obama personally, rather than on the issues. But don't they see their own hypocrisy and double-standard when they do the same to Gingrich — or most of the other Republican candidates?

What is interesting is that since I wrote this column last June, the key reason for Gingrich's surge seems to be his focus on issues and his adult, decent style during debates, avoiding criticizing his fellow candidates and staying, almost always, on the high road and on the issues.

So the lesson may be that if Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination, President Obama and either Gingrich or Romney are likely to lead a dignified debate on the issues, overcoming the tendency of their partisan bases to get nasty and personal — just what they decry in the other side. And the American people may just get, in the campaign of 2012, one of the great and important debates and choices between liberal social democratic government, with a mix of free market and social safety net principles and an important role of government and progressive taxes to support it versus a classic conservative view to leave the free market alone to the maximum extent, reduce taxes and government, and rely mainly on unleashing the entrepreneurial instincts of individual Americans, and encourage the private sector and small business to be the engine of economic growth and enduring, sustainable job creation.  “A choice, not an echo” — with high-level debate, respectful listening to differing opinions, the candidates in 2012 may well end up giving the American people civil dialogue and informed choices they want and need when they vote for president in 2012 and beyond.
 
As my late mother would say, “From your mouth to God’s ears.”

So I re-present my June 16 column on Newt Gingrich just in case you missed it, but with one caveat — I unfairly singled out a quote that I found on the Internet from Republican strategist Alex Vogel in which he pronounced John McCain prematurely politically dead in 2007. Vogel is a highly skilled and savvy political expert. Just because Vogel's logical take on McCain's situation turned out, surprisingly, to be wrong was not intended to be an insult or disrespectful to Vogel. I apologized to Vogel over the phone after this column was published and do so again as I re-publish it here.