Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gingrich Republicans?

Craig Shirley offers an interesting piece of analysis at Politico. He looks at the campaigns of Goldwater and Reagan, arguing that both ran as "insurgents" (the current hot term for the so-called outsiders of the GOP) against more moderate Republican opponents. Their victories in key primaries forced their anti-establishment agendas to the forefront, ultimately garnering both Presidential nominations and one the Oval Office, largely because of the effectiveness of their populist rhetoric.

Shirley notes that their legacies loom large, as even today people call themselves "Reagan Republicans" (or Reagan conservatives) and "Goldwater Republicans" (or Goldwater conservatives). He opines that maybe one day, there will be people proudly adopting the moniker of "Gingrich Republicans."

All of this is based on the results of the South Carolina Primary, in which Gingrich did do exceedingly well. But there's a major problem with Shirley's analysis: Reagan and Goldwater were the leaders of their respective movements, they were at the forefront from day one. Reagan, a true Washington outsider, came baggage-free to the party, a former governor that bucked a business-as-usual approach. Goldwater, as a Senator, held strong to his core principals and earned a reputation for never flinching in this regard.

Indeed, if there is a comparison to be made here, it would seem to be a Paul-Goldwater one, far moreso than a Gingrich-Goldwater one. Ron Paul, like Barry Goldwater, has refused to comprise on issues where he sees no compromise (obviously, the two are not alike with regard to many specific positions, however).

Shirley--with a vested interest in seeing Gingrich succeed (he's currently writing a biography of the former Speaker)--ignores these realities and supposes that Gingrich's attempt to garner the support of the Tea Party movement will somehow give Gingrich ownership of that movement. I can't see that happening. Shirley writes:
On primary day, I traveled with Gingrich as he met with hundreds of voters. None of these voters seemed to pay any mind to the Washington know-it-alls. If they did – it was to show them their backside.
And completely forgets that Gingrich is, himself, very much a "Washington know-it-all." For all the populist rhetoric coming out of his mouth now, Gingrich's history is that of a DC insider. His post-legislative career only strengthens the label. Like most policy-wonk types, Gingrich assumes there are government solutions to various problems. Currently, he is going to great lengths to disguise his nature in this regard, but it is what it is.

At best, Gingrich--compared to Romney--is a lesser of two evils kind of choice for many in the Tea Party movement. At worst, he's a political opportunist who really doesn't believe a word of what he's currently selling. Either way, the idea that--one day--people will proudly wear the moniker of "Gingrich Republican" strikes me as profoundly silly.

1 comment:

  1. I hope there will be a lot of Obama Republicans.