Sunday, January 22, 2012

- Newt For Vice President

There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve realized that my instinct was contrary to my interests. It’s no easier for me to cope with than it is for anyone else. But if you want broader success (and I do) then the only option is to set aside those instincts and do the smart thing instead of the thing that feels best at the time. We all must do it sometimes. We’re conservatives after all. We aren’t some childish liberals only worried about intentions and sentiment. We are interested in actually accomplishing things and the only way that happens is if we keep our eyes on the prize.

My personal instinct is almost always the full frontal attack. Charge in, guns blazing and do my level best to decimate the enemy. Yell, scream, insult, attack, offend… do whatever it takes to make the enemy skulk away from the field of battle feeling less than he was when the argument began. My family has always fought this way for better or worse. (I attribute it to some Woad sentiment as yet un-purged from our bloodlines.) And while it may be a highly effective way to win the battle at hand, much of the time it means a loss of the broader war.

That frontal attack very often makes us enemies who may back away from the field of battle, but do so only to skulk in the background and strike back with subtlety when it’s more effective. In my career I’ve had people wait ages to get their vengeance on me. Some (I’m quite sure) are still out there waiting to slip their knife in my ribs for past moments when I failed to follow my own advice. If I’m lucky they’ll never get their chance – but I hate the idea of depending on my luck. These days, I try much harder to ignore my instincts and do what’s in my interests instead.

Right now, Newt Gingrich is doing what feels best to conservatives. We’re oh so sick of the smug and condescending liberal media telling us about how they are the middle of the road, and that we (the majority of the country) are fanatics. We’ve craved for decades for a conservative who would refuse to allow them to define the conversation in their “are you still beating your wife” type style. Newt has the experience, the intelligence and to be frank, the ego to do that. And the voters of South Carolina have rewarded him with their votes.

But I continue to believe that this tactic is contrary to our broader interests. Don’t get me wrong, it feels as good to me as anyone to see those A-holes take a good hard verbal fist in the chops, and I’m enjoying seeing Newt do it. But my goal is not to feel good, my goal is to see Obama beaten in the 2012 presidential election. Newt, for all his strengths, is a wild card. I continue to believe that in his arrogance, he’s going to say or do something profoundly stupid that may very well cost Republicans the broader election. Newt Gingrich’s worst enemy, is Newt Gingrich. And I’ve seen that movie before.

The media gave us Barack Obama as president, and he in turn has set off a wave of regulation and governance that has been unprecedented in its anti-Americanism. Had the media even remotely done their job of vetting candidate Obama, then his hard left sentiments would have been apparent, and we would have probably elected Hillary Clinton president. Maybe that would have been worse – (lord knows she couldn’t have been ‘less competent’) but I don’t think it would have been as openly Anti-American.

My point is, at this moment in history, the desire to smack around the lame stream media is very strong in conservatives. But we should try to find away to set aside our instincts about those condescending jerks from CNN, the networks, and the New York Times. We should focus on what we intellectually believe is in our best interests, not what feels best to us in the moment. We may win the battle that way, but I don’t believe this is how you win the war.

No one will change the minds of the media. They won’t ever be honest about what they believe or be truly objective in their reporting. That sort of honest introspection is completely beyond them. And since that’s so, Newt’s trashing of them, as good as it feels to us, is not in our interests because it accomplishes nothing. We owe ourselves better than that.

The best assessment of Mitt Romney that I’ve heard to date came from Greg Guttfeld, host of Fox News’s Redeye (I’m an insomniac so what do you expect). He said that “Romney is an alpha male who belongs to a religion that rejects Alpha behavior”. Romney’s lack of ‘fist in the gob’ media management is only one example of mildness that primary voters are finding disconcerting. He seems wooden and passionless in the debates and unwilling to berate the media like Newt has. But in truth, I think (not feel… but think) that will make him a better President than Newt Gingrich, who sure as the sunrise, is going to self destruct.

Tell me you want Newt for Vice President (assuming you could squeeze his massive ego into the job) and I’d be thrilled. That would leave his ideas in the mix, would keep him engaged with the media, and give us the benefit of his intelligence without the burden of his poor judgment. But force me to vote for one of the two front runners, (Santorum has no money and won’t be able to keep up in Florida) and I’m voting for Mitt.

In truth I think the job of Vice President is almost custom tailored for Newt’s strength and weaknesses. I mean, the media will never give Newt the kind of carte blanche for verbal foibles that they give to Joe Biden, but they won’t roast the whole administration over the coals whenever he speaks either. Vice president is a job where you are not taken seriously in public, but you are very much taken seriously in private. Newt would be perfect for it.

Bring him out from time to time and let him smack Maria Bartiromo around (verbally of course) and defend broad principles of conservatism. Let him take the CNN team to the woodshed now and then, and offer up his ideas behind the scenes. He’d be perfect for the role, but for the fact that you probably couldn’t get him to accept it.

Then again, politics makes strange bedfellows. After the funding issues in Florida, a Romney - Gingrich ticket might not look so bad to him. It certainly wouldn’t look bad to us.


ikaika said...

I agree with your gut here.

Observation: it has been quite refreshing to here the left wing and ultra left wing factions of the media recoil in horror as Newt emerged victorious.

I was watching PBS over the weekend. It was the most wonderful theater watching Mark Shields nearly soil himself on TV as he expressed his horror that Newt was such a Bully to the press and everyone else...

I also caught Christie on meet the depressed. He knows how to deliver. He will run for president in 2016.

ikaika said...

FTo read the transcript of Mark Shields crapping his pants:

Tom said...

Christie is the most unapologetically anti-gun of all the leading Republicans, so I'm ambivalent about his future prospects outside NJ... at least until he publicly repents.

But a fair point about the horror of the media.

That's why I like him for Veep. He can go out and bash the daylights out of them fro time to time with little potential downside.