Photo: Pete Souza via Wikimedia
Last week, everyone and their right-wing brother was jumping ugly on Newt Gingrich for failing to support Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to “overhaul” Medicare. We went the other way, saying that this indicated sound political judgment on Mr. Gingrich’s part and political idiocy on the part of his critics. That was last week.This week, Mr. Gingrich announced that he intended to seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination by campaigning as an “outsider.” “I’m not a Washington figure,” said Mr. Gingrich, “despite the years I’ve been here. I’m essentially an American whose ties are across the country and is interested in how you change Washington, not how you make Washington happy.” You can read the rest here.
Gingrich’s pose is, in a word, ludicrous.
Here’s the only thing that commends Newt Gingrich to Republican primary voters and caucus attenders: He engineered the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994 and he produced a string of legislative victories in 1995-1996 that actually made the country somewhat more conservative, not less. These victorious efforts were culminated by the passage of Welfare Reform in 1996, which remains the single greatest conservative legislative victory on a domestic issue in the last 50 years.
What distinguishes Mr. Gingrich from his opponents in the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination is precisely his record as an effective “insider.” It’s what separates him from the pack. All the others can talk about moving the country in a more conservative direction. Gingrich has actually done it. It is, in advertising terms, his USP (unique selling principle).
Throwing that out the window so he can run as an “outsider” (a stance that will be believed by no one, since it isn’t true) is so inept politically as to defy belief. Almost. As one veteran GOP pol told us over the weekend, with Gingrich “it’s not whether he will blow up his own campaign, it’s when and how.”
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