Could Republicans please take a deep breath, and entertain a reality check?
Our country is in deep trouble, and we need to elect a new leader in 2012. First, as a party, we need to find a candidate that can send President Obama packing. That person must be able to convince the majority of Americans that he can generate consensus. After three years of bitter partisanship and confrontation we need someone who can fulfill Obama’s abandoned pledge to “reach across the aisle.”
Next, our new president must find common-sense ways to build up our economy – add jobs, encourage investment and inspire business owners. That is goal No. 1. Without healthy growth, we will be unable to tackle any of the secondary challenges – crumbling infrastructure, poor schools or environmental degradation – that loom large.
Newt Gingrich is emphatically not this person. Here are the top six reasons why:
6. The Name
Sorry, but no one wants to be governed by a salamander.
5. People Don’t Like Him
At the height of his political career, he had the lowest poll ratings of anyone in national office. A candidate’s staff is supposed to worship him, not bail on him as Newt’s did at the very start of his current campaign. He is variously described as abrasive, smug, sarcastic and erratic. His monumental disorganization is a form of arrogance – he’s above needing to roll up his sleeves. He is, in short, a spoiled brat.
4. He Is About as Trustworthy as Dennis the Menace
Newt has already been hit by a House ethics violation, a rare honor in our cocooned Congress. He also famously led the investigation into President Bill Clinton’s infidelity even while indulging in his own. This “glass house” behavior was also the downfall of Eliot Spitzer (the former New York governor might have been excused his engagement with the Emperor’s Club, but not while launching a crusade against prostitution). The two men share monumental hypocrisy, as well as a casual attitude towards marriage. Does Newt also keep his socks on? Not clear.
3. He’s a Professor for Heaven’s Sake
Haven’t we spent the past three years solemnly vowing never, ever to elect another professor? Here’s why: they stuff their cabinets full of other professors. They actually think having PhD after your name means you know something. Sorry, not true. Think Paul Krugman.
2. Newt Has More Baggage Than Lady Gaga on Tour
Okay, we all know this, but those flocking to his camp seem to have forgotten his past. The shutting down of the government, his multiple marriages, his embrace of cap and trade, his ties to Freddie Mac – all fodder for Democrats. Barney Frank got it right: “I did not think I lived a good enough life to see Newt Gingrich as the nominee of the Republican Party.” (Frank is correct – he hasn’t.)
1. He’s a Visionary With Poor Foresight
Gingrich suffers an affliction common to many very bright people: an inability to distinguish between interesting concepts and sensible ideas. When he champions a “permanent lunar colony to exploit the moon’s resources” or geoengineering to cool the planet, he may just be having some intellectual fun. As president you are not allowed to do that. You are expected to provide calm dispassionate leadership and intelligent guidance. Unhappily, Newt’s judgment – on Iran, which he expected to veer towards democracy, or Putin, whom he once said would be a great reformer – has been wrong more often than right. When you’re in the Oval Office, being quixotic is not a virtue.
Before nominating Newt – opening the gates wide for Obama’s reelection in 2012 – let us remember that as Speaker of the House, Gingrich snatched GOP defeat from the jaws of victory. Please do not let him do it again.