Monday, February 22, 2010

Politics: Gingrich the Answer?

TORONTO, ONTARIO - I write this piece today reluctantly, but the conclusion seems rather inevitable. If we accept the premise expressed last week that a thinking-world presidential candidate is mostly likely to restore balance to the United States, currently in an unhealthy emotional mode--and maybe such a premise should be rejected--the person who seems most likely to serve that role is Republican Newt Gingrich.

I really don't like Newt Gingrich very much. I've written here before about how he basically rejects my world view, like many in the right wing of the Republican Party. His constant references to Christian ideas and references to the United States as a Christian nation strike me as counter to the constitution. Furthermore, his personal life has been especially repugnant. I actually don't care much when politicians are not faithful to their spouses--the French seem to be doing just fine ignoring affairs--but Gingrich is especially hypocritical for enabling the investigations of Bill Clinton when he was being unfaithful at the time himself, and for the manner in which he reportedly divorced his first wife when she was recovering from cancer in 1981.

But, it's hard to deny that Gingrich clearly comes from the "thinking" world. He always focuses on the future, and can construct a vision of where the country should be going, whether one agrees with it or not. He did it once as a primary architect of the "Contract with America" in the 1994 election, and he is reportedly working on a similar kind of national platform for 2010, and certainly could come up with a visionary platform for his own presidential campaign in 2012. Furthermore, he eventually showed an ability to work with a Democratic president to pass legislation and budgets that created the only Federal surpluses of my lifetime. From a strictly political effectiveness standpoint, Gingrich stands pretty tall.

His negatives might also be a positive in some sense. If the country could elect someone as personally egregious as Gingrich, then "common" adultery could no longer be considered a major issue for future candidates. Furthermore, as an arch conservative, he might be the only kind of "thinking" world, professorial type that could be elected. The last serious candidate from the "thinking" world, Al Gore, was rejected as someone who was too nerdy to have a beer with. It's hard to imagine the same accusation sticking to Gingrich.

I'm not the only person to notice Gingrich's potential. Tom Schaller wrote a piece on just this weekend looking at Gingrich's electability. As much as I wouldn't like the outcome of a Ginrich presidency, at least it would hold the potential to break the country out of its emotional state with forward-looking, vision-filled ideas.

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