Gingrich Goes Rogue

On Friday, May 13th, Newt Gingrich lit up the Georgia GOP at their state convention.

His best line of the night was when he said that with regards to American foreign policy, “We should have one.”

Yet something happened to him in the span of 48 hours. He was not feeling well during his Friday speech, coughing more than once. He said it was allergies, but maybe he had a cold. Maybe it was just exhaustion. Yet whatever the reason, he sat down for an interview with David Gregory on MSNBC. While it was already Sunday the 15th, the interview became a Friday the 13th nightmare.

Doing the interview was his first curious decision. MSNBC are practically enemy combatants. Their entire reason for existing is to feed the lunatic left-wing of the Democratic Party. The MSNBC staff should be tested for rabies. Yet unlike Democrats running in fear from Fox News, Gingrich made the mistake of trying to be open-minded and appearing on a television station nobody watches.

While David Gregory was there to inflict harm, Gingrich chose to take the bait. He criticized the Paul Ryan budget plan as “radical” and “right-wing social engineering.”

In the immortal words of Jay Leno to Hugh Grant, I ask Newt Gingrich…sir…”What in the heck were you thinking?”

Within a day Mr. Gingrich was apologizing to Mr. Ryan and backpedaling. Yet the damage had been done. Sir Charles of Krauthammer declared the Gingrich candidacy “finished.”

This is sad. A vibrant Gingrich campaign would be good for the country. Yet his comments reinforced his worst negatives and undercut his main positive.

His worst negative is that he is undisciplined. His worst wounds are self-inflicted. These were most likely off the cuff remarks, and they backfired.

His main positive is that he has long been seen as an intellectual policy heavyweight. He is an idea man. Others babble while he talks about solutions. Yet by siding with Barack Obama over Paul Ryan on the issue of health care mandates, Mr. Gingrich has come down on the side of terrible policy. Forget the politics of it. The policy is awful.

Why would Mr. Gingrich do this? Assuming this was not a case of exhaustion or a brief alien invasion into his skull, what did possess him to take this approach?

While I am certainly not Dr. Krauthammer, it is time to play amateur psychologist.

In 1995 Mr. Gingrich was seen as “mean.” He was demonized for trying to enact painful but necessary changes to Medicare. He was accused of trying to “cut” and “gut” the program. These accusations were outright lies, but “slowing the rate of growth” was seen in Washington as cutting. The problems the entitlement programs Mr. Gingrich wanted to save now face are exponentially worse. The Demagogic Party was willing to let the programs get destroyed in order to win the 1996 presidential election.

Despite the caricature of him, Mr. Gingrich is human. He does not want to be hated. No sane person would want that. Therefore, he decided to make himself out to beĀ  “likable” Republican.

The problem with this strategy is that it never works. John McCain was the darling of the press until he had to compete with Barack Obama. Arnold Schwarzenegger moved leftward, only to see the Democrats blame him for everything.

Right now Paul Ryan is public enemy number one for liberals, maybe even more so than his fellow Wisconsite Governor Scott Walker. Mr. Ryan seems to handle the role of villain much better than Mr. Gingrich did. This is partially because Mr. Ryan is prepared for the villification, and handles it with dignity and sober responses.

Paul Ryan is the adult and Barack Obama is the child. Mr. Gingrich used to be the adult, and he got burned for it. Yet rather than stick to his guns, he chose to throw Mr. Ryan under the bus.

Going rogue did not win Mr. Gingrich any new converts. The left still despises him. Now the right is upset with him as well, perhaps to the point of fatally ending his candidacy.

Newt Gingrich needs to get a mulligan. Romney needs one on Romneycare and Pawlenty needs one on cap and trade. Pawlenty helped himself by admitting that his prior support for that was wrong.

Gingrich can plead temporary insanity and perhaps right the ship.

Yet if he tries to run against Ryan the way McCain ran against Bush, the results will be equally disastrous. Why would the Democrats look at Obama lite when they have the real thing?

The Gingrich fiasco should be a warning shot to every Republican contender. Everybody on the right had better fall into line. Stand up for conservative principles. Liberals stand for nothing, but they win when conservatives running decide to act like liberals.

Paul Ryan is now the new darling of conservatives. He deserves this title and his reputation as the new policy heavyweight. Any candidate taking shots at Mr. Ryan should be disqualified from consideration. Candidates embracing the Ryan plan should vault to the top.

Paul Ryan is the leader of the GOP. Show him loyalty or be prepared for conservative wrath.

Because of everything Mr. Gingrich has done for the GOP over the course of his career, he should be given this last get out of jail free card.

Going forward, he needs to do what every GOP candidate must do.

Just stick to the d@mn script.


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