EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a political analysis on the election process that will impact the nation. Stay on topic. A digression of any kind that is considered by this ediotr to be personally offensive wil be expunged from the record and the IP address will lose the ability to log on =to this site again. The issue is the politics, not people. Stay on topic. We may all learn something in the process. Thank you for your understanding. Kindly, Hezi Aris
I want to replace Barack Obama.
A lovely guy, who is very smart, with a terrific family, but is over his head. He was elected with no management, business, or economic experience, whatsoever, in a time when the economy was in the worst shape since the great depression. In order to replace this president, Republicans must nominate someone who can garner 270 electoral votes and win in those traditional swing states that determine presidential elections; states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico.
Our choices have narrowed down to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Some Republican pundits are still hoping for Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, changing his mind and entering the race. It will be Daniels who has been designated to give the GOP response to the President’s State of the Union address. Like it or not, Daniels is not getting into the race at this late date,; and there is no such thing as the possibility of a “brokered” convention because the nomination will be decided by the primaries and caucuses that take place between now and the Convention. So what then are our choices.
Let’s start with Mitt Romney. He is the former governor of a blue state and perceived as a slightly to the right of center establishment Republican masquerading as an ultra conservative candidate. Romney has the money and the ground organization to go all the way to the convention. He is on the ballot in every single primary and caucus state. Romney’s strengths are that business is his business. His ownership of Bain Capital, a private equity firm whose business is to acquire companies for the purpose of turning them around in whatever way is most efficient. He has been roundly criticized even by fellow Republican candidates, who are supposedly free market advocates for what they say is stripping those companies and selling off those parts which are not profitable and in the process they say, destroying jobs.
Romney has become very wealthy in the process but rather than defending his work ethic and his business acumen he has been playing defense on the issue of his tax returns, which during the South Carolina debate, he failed to agree to immediately release. So it is fair to say that because of his business success, because of his stewardship of a very liberal state, and because of his abiding by the Morman religion, he has a problem connecting with the base of the party, which in large part are comprised of “Tea Party” Evangelical Christians; average working men and women who are suffering lost jobs, lost houses, and lost retirements.
Newt Gingrich, on the other hand presents himself as the former controversial Speaker of the House who thinks in terms of “big ideas.” He touts his experience as a job creator, while he was speaker and Bill Clinton was president, and touts himself as a true Reagan Conservative. He is extremely bright, a policy wonk of the highest order, and by far the better debater, as he demonstrated in the last South Carolina debate where he took on the “liberal media” which inquired about the charges his second wife had made in an ABC interview where she claimed that Gingrich had requested an open marriage. Gingrich makes the point over and over that in a debate with President Obama he would have the upper hand based on his debate performances to date, and his win in South Carolina after Romney had the lead going into the election as an attestation to his ability to marshall and rev up the Conservative base.
There is no question that Gingrich as the nominee would be the more energetic, red meat candidate. There is no question that he would be inspirational to those on the right who want to “fight” the influence of the federal government’s intrusion into our lives, and who want to vent their anger for the economic meltdown that we are all experiencing. But the real question is whether Newt Gingrich can be the leader of the free world in a credible and reliable way.
At question is whether he has the temperament and judgment to be the president. The issue is whether this nation can risk handing over the nuclear keys to someone with Gingrich’s track record.
To answer that question we have to look at the facts. Virtually everyone who worked with or for Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House has described him to be erratic, unreliable, and lacking the leadership skills to remain as speaker. They in fact acted in concert to remove him from that post. Well-known Conservatives like Senator Tom Coburn and Haley Barbour have stated publicly that Gingrich has no business being entrusted with the Oval office. He is viewed as a chaotic and mercurial; a character with an idea a minute, but with no idea how to stick to any one of them long enough to implement it.
What this nation clearly needs is a steady hand. We need to have someone who is able to work with both parties to accomplish what President Obama has not.
We are not voting for a debater in chief. We should not be nominating the person who can entertain us the most during the election, but the person who we have confidence in to lead us out of the morass we are in; one which has resulted from out of control spending, reckless risk taking by some financial institutions, and a housing bubble that popped four years ago, and is still on life support. We cannot afford to be surprised in September that Gingrich’s reprimand by the House was for unethical conduct, that we have never been told about in full because it remains a matter of private record, kept under wraps by the House of Representatives.
Republicans are going to have a difficult time removing an incumbent President who will spend a billion plus dollars on his campaign . If Gingrich is the candidate, you bank on women being appalled at the way he has treated his two former wives. Real Conservatives like Joe Scarborough will continue to point out that Gingrich is not and never has been “Conservative.” Even if you can make an argument that Romney has flip-flopped on the individual mandate, Gingrich supported it for 20 years; or cap and trade, which Newt also supported. It does not translate into Gingrich being regarded as a true conservative. What Gingrich presently represents is the Conservative Evangelical base revolting against what they perceive as an establishment moderate Romney candidacy. Gingrich is able to take their anger, their frustration, and their resentment, of what they perceive as a liberal media, and in histrionic fashion, make those points in every debate he appears. The base may love the performance but it will not play in the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes. However you slice it Gingrich is unelectable regardless of what the Conservatives of South Carolina believed when they voted Saturday, January 21, 2012. His national unfavorables are almost 60% His work for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for which he received $1.6 million will be impossible to defend, as will the fact that he was the only Speaker in history to be formally reprimanded by the House of Representatives.
Florida will be the crucial state because Romney must finally go on the offensive. He has to make sure voters understand that Bain Capital was a positive for the average person creating thousands of jobs at businesses like Sports Authority and Staples, and that being a success in America is nothing to be ashamed of. If he does that successfully he wins the Florida Primary and gains back the momentum he lost once again. He has agreed, as of this writing, to release his tax returns, something he should have done months ago. Defending the fact that he paid 15% compared with what the rest of us paid, should not be a problem. That’s the way the tax laws are written and calling for tax reform including abolishing the distinction between the rate on capital gains and ordinary income should be the rationale to lead us toward taxation reform.
If Romney cannot make these basic arguments on his own behalf, then he will not connect with the base making the prospect of a Gingrich candidacy more likely. If that should happen, the fear that will overtake Republican leaders across this nation, those who understand how a Gingrich candidacy would cost them the House of Representatives, as well as the Unites States Senate, will be palpable.
We already see William Kristol, a Fox News pundit and editor of the Weekly Standard attempting to convince anyone who will listen to draft Mitch Daniels; something that is highly unlikely. The discomfort that will pervade party leaders of all stripes with the prospect of a Gingrich candidacy will force an assault on his credibility, viability, and electability should he win Florida. So where are we? I will let you know after Florida on the 31st.
Mike Edelman is a political commentator and consultant based in Westchester County. He is a partner in the Worby Groner Edelman (www.wgelaw.com/) personal injury law firm.