Monday, December 12, 2011

There's a lot more to the presidency than debate performance

Ross Douhat nails it when he explains why GOP voters are falling for Gingrich now. It's not that different from how 2004 Democrats thought that nominating Kerry would help them show up Bush as a chickenhawk by having an actual Vietnam Vet report for service as their nominee.
But Newt Gingrich’s recent rise in the polls is being sustained, in part, by a right-wing version of exactly the impulse that led Democrats to nominate Kerry: a desperate desire to somehow beat Barack Obama at his own game, and to explode what conservatives consider the great fantasy of the 2008 campaign — the conceit that Obama possessed an unmatched brilliance and an unprecedented eloquence.
But nominating someone just so the debates would show up Obama is not what the GOP needs to be doing.
More important for the Republican Party’s purposes, it isn’t 2008 anymore, and conservatives don’t actually need to explode the fantasy of Obama’s eloquence and omnicompetence. The harsh reality of governing has already done that for them. Nobody awaits the president’s speeches with panting anticipation these days, or expects him to slay his opponents with the power of his intellect. Obamamania peaked with the inauguration, and it’s been ebbing ever since.

Newt Gingrich might debate circles around Obama. He might implode spectacularly, making a hot mess of himself while the president keeps his famous cool. But either way, setting up a grand rhetorical showdown seems unlikely to supply a disillusioned country with what it’s looking for from Republicans in 2012.

Conservatives may want catharsis, but the rest of the public seems to mainly want reassurance. They already know Barack Obama isn’t the messiah he was once cracked up to be. What they don’t know is whether they can trust anyone else to do better.
And Gingrich is not a figure whose history as a leader inspires reassurance and trust. If you want an insight to why so few of his House colleagues are supporting him this time around, read this look at his party leadership in 1998.


John Scotus said...

This is a good post which really hits the nail on the head. Many of the bloggers and commentators I know of who have jumped on the Gingrich bandwagon have done so because they think he can run circles around Obama in a debate. I'm not so sure. Frankly, apart from throwing rhetorical bombs which please conservatives, I have not seen much in Gingrich's debate performances to recommend him. Are conservatives really that certain that moderates and independents will fall in love with the man as they have? Meanwhile, Gingrich's past should set off alarm bells with conservatives. It is not just the adultery, it is the brazen destructiveness of his past behavior. Since when did conservatives support someone merely because he could speak well and always told them what they wanted to hear? Character is ultimately the most important of conservative values--and Gingrich doesn't seem to have any. This love affair with the man is disheartening.

mark said...

If Obama wins re-election, conservativies will have nobody to blame but themselves. They wasted months catering to frauds and nutjobs. Perhaps one of the intelligent conservatives they pine for might have jumped into the race had there not been the lunatic fringe to kiss up to.

tfhr said...


We know Obama cannot run on his record to win but do you still have to make each of your posts dependent on slurs? If Obama does win reelection we'll all be hurting as he has proven that he is not capable of leading, incapable of recognizing that his policies are failing, and unwilling to risk alienating his base when given an opportunity to actually help the country, as with Keystone.

Maybe the left should start looking for a third party candidate since it's pretty obvious that the Dems aren't going to do anything to help the nation.