By Cheri Jacobus - 11/18/11 07:32 PM EST
That Newt Gingrich’s detractors and the media are doing their level best to find fault and scandal in his advisory role with Freddie Mac is good news. That after soaring to top-tier status in the polls in his quest for the GOP presidential nomination this paper tiger is all they can muster in the expected and routine takedown tradition of bare-knuckle politics is a sign the former Speaker of the House may be in pretty good shape. That former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the former Speaker are the two giants in the race at this point is an indication the Republican primary voters are executing due diligence in a process that is working. Both men have earned their spots against some very talented other candidates in the field, with voters putting each man and woman under the microscope and making them jump through hoops without apology.
The greatest fear Democrats have in Newt Gingrich is that as a well-known quantity, his negatives have long been documented, and yet he’s gained traction in spite of them. Like Romney, Gingrich is enjoying success due to debate performances, credibility and experience — all of which seem to be incrementally gaining the trust of not just Republican primary voters, but the general-election-voting population as well, according to polls.
After a rock-star, teleprompter, cool, put-my-face-on-a-T-shirt President Obama who has disappointed his base (including the media) and has us white-knuckled with his frightening level of incompetence as we cringe at his foreign-policy ineptness, his monthly release of sky-high unemployment numbers and reckless wasteful spending, it would appear the country is hungry for some sober leadership. We are waiting to exhale. The GOP is serving up candidates who can facilitate that blessed relief.
Just as Mitt Romney seems reluctant to gratuitously slam his fellow candidates, treating them more as colleagues and comrades in arms (one gets the impression that being tough while remaining a gentleman is in his DNA), Newt Gingrich, too, shows respect and even support for the others on the debate stage. The media is perplexed, viewing it as some sort of inexplicable strategy, or perhaps a trick. They’re forgetting who Newt is. He doesn’t need to ingratiate or indemnify himself to the others. One would be hard-pressed to find him offering gratuitous praise for … well, anyone. Perhaps ever.
Newt Gingrich has spent the better part of his political career recruiting, training and supporting GOP candidates he believes in, building the historic GOP House majority in 1994 with more than 70 new members, and is credited with losing not a single GOP incumbent to a Democrat that year. He is responsible for training countless political operatives (in the interest of full disclosure, I am a 1988 graduate of his now-defunct American Campaign Academy, an intense 10-week campaign-management program dubbed “the West Point of politics” by Newsweek). While he will respectfully disagree on policy issues, it would seem anathema to who Gingrich is to criticize another Republican without good cause. He just isn’t wired that way. He’ll put his best foot forward, garnering superior results with superior intelligence, rather than tear apart a primary opponent, preferring to hold his fire for Obama — whether he is the GOP nominee or not.
Whether the eventual nominee is Romney or Gingrich, each makes the other a better candidate. The GOP has a number of individuals who meet the standard of excellence the nation deserves in terms of experience, intellectual depth, mature common sense and credibility, to varying degrees. Romney and Gingrich are on that list. Condoleezza Rice, Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie are on the list. While Democrats have a bench with potential in terms of the same intellect, experience, etc. (even if I disagree on most policy issues), which includes Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold and perhaps a few others, Barack Obama is not, in my view, in that league. Most Democrats know this, yet are stuck with him. After next November, the rest of us don’t have to be.