Newt, the Not-So-Un-Romney

Of all the "Not-Romneys" to flash in the conservative-candidate pan, Newt Gingrich seems the most unlikely.  Not because Newt lacks a strong resume, political savvy, or admirable intellect, but because Gingrich is more like Romney than any other candidate in the race (save perhaps Jon Huntsman).

In some corners of the conservative media, there is a narrative emerging that Gingrich and Romney are polar opposites, locked in an epic battle between Big Ideas Man (Newt) vs. Great Manager Man (Mitt).  What is left out of that analysis is that both Mitt's management and Newt's ideas center on government.

During the recent liberal political ascendency, starting with George W. Bush's Social Security proposal and ending with the advent of the Tea Party, Gingrich was a fountain of interventionist ideas, each one tinged with some market aspect for good measure.  Examples include his proposal for "prizes [to] unleash the creative, entrepreneurial spirit that built this country."  The prize proposal was part of the former speaker's advocacy of "green conservatism" -- essentially Solyndra, but with slightly higher standards.  Gingrich was also a long-time advocate for an insurance mandate like the one Romney signed into law in 2006.

Should Romney and Gingrich run on the same ticket, they could use the campaign slogan "Making Big-Government (Sort Of) Work Since 1994."

Newt, like Mitt, doesn't seek so much to unravel the federal government as to re-weave it into a different pattern.  The fact that Romney and Gingrich are running #1 and #2 in the polls shows just how far America has traveled along the path to Europeanization.

Conservatives parties in Europe are to the left of the Democratic Party in America in terms of policy.  The main difference between Europe's conservatives and America's Democrats is that the American left is still crusading for the welfare state.  In Europe, the crusades have already been fought and won -- or lost, depending on one's perspective.  The elements for limited government and free markets in Europe have long since given way to a state limited only by its ability to print, borrow, and spend money.

Current U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and his Tory Party ran in 2010 on the platform "We'll cut the deficit, not the National Health Service."  Socialism is so deeply ingrained in the European political culture that the term "conservative" means almost nothing by American standards.

Even the great Margaret Thatcher was shackled in her fight to restore limited government in Great Britain because the welfare state was deeply ingrained into British society.  Rather than fight socialized medicine in the U.K., Lady Thatcher proclaimed the British National Health Service "safe" in conservative hands.

Europe's conservatives no longer run on the basis that limited government and free markets make for a superior governing philosophy.  As the New York Times reported amid conservative party victories in Germany, France, the U.K., and other European nations:

Europe's center-right parties have embraced many ideas of the left: generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union. But they have won votes by promising to deliver more efficiently than the left, while working to lower taxes, improve financial regulation, and grapple with aging populations.

Be it Gingrich's big ideas or Romney's managerial record, both are running on competency with only a rhetorical devotion to truly limited government.

Many excuse the former speaker for his legion of awful ideas because, as a commentator and author, his job is to create solutions.  Indeed, Gingrich has been called a "one-man think-tank."  Gingrich defenders discount the Think=Tank's big-government flirtations by pointing to his time as speaker as the superior evidence of his conservatism.  Truly, the 1990s' brief bend in the ever-upward spending curve was a positive accomplishment, as was welfare reform.

But RedState's Eric Erickson recently unearthed a telling account of the Gingrich speakership from Senator Tom Coburn's book Breach of Trust.

It became clear to [Coburn] that Speaker Gingrich, House Majority Leader Armey and the rest of the Republican leadership were not what they pretended to be. They were revolutionaries in name only, content to take possession from the Democrats of the machinery of government and then run it virtually unchanged.

If America is to be preserved, we need more than a spending-curve-bender, content to operate the machinery of government virtually unchanged.  We need a president who looks at government and understands its limitations, not a president who looks at government and imagines its possibilities.

Gingrich, for his many strengths, is no anti-Romney.  Both men are brilliant and successful in their own right, but both are all too willing to expand the power of the state, believing that their skill and intellect will finally make big government work.

Joseph Ashby is a contributor to Jonah Goldberg's latest book, Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation.  Joseph can be heard Thursday mornings at 7:35am CST on the KHUB Morning Show with Matt Price.

Of all the "Not-Romneys" to flash in the conservative-candidate pan, Newt Gingrich seems the most unlikely.  Not because Newt lacks a strong resume, political savvy, or admirable intellect, but because Gingrich is more like Romney than any other candidate in the race (save perhaps Jon Huntsman).

In some corners of the conservative media, there is a narrative emerging that Gingrich and Romney are polar opposites, locked in an epic battle between Big Ideas Man (Newt) vs. Great Manager Man (Mitt).  What is left out of that analysis is that both Mitt's management and Newt's ideas center on government.

During the recent liberal political ascendency, starting with George W. Bush's Social Security proposal and ending with the advent of the Tea Party, Gingrich was a fountain of interventionist ideas, each one tinged with some market aspect for good measure.  Examples include his proposal for "prizes [to] unleash the creative, entrepreneurial spirit that built this country."  The prize proposal was part of the former speaker's advocacy of "green conservatism" -- essentially Solyndra, but with slightly higher standards.  Gingrich was also a long-time advocate for an insurance mandate like the one Romney signed into law in 2006.

Should Romney and Gingrich run on the same ticket, they could use the campaign slogan "Making Big-Government (Sort Of) Work Since 1994."

Newt, like Mitt, doesn't seek so much to unravel the federal government as to re-weave it into a different pattern.  The fact that Romney and Gingrich are running #1 and #2 in the polls shows just how far America has traveled along the path to Europeanization.

Conservatives parties in Europe are to the left of the Democratic Party in America in terms of policy.  The main difference between Europe's conservatives and America's Democrats is that the American left is still crusading for the welfare state.  In Europe, the crusades have already been fought and won -- or lost, depending on one's perspective.  The elements for limited government and free markets in Europe have long since given way to a state limited only by its ability to print, borrow, and spend money.

Current U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and his Tory Party ran in 2010 on the platform "We'll cut the deficit, not the National Health Service."  Socialism is so deeply ingrained in the European political culture that the term "conservative" means almost nothing by American standards.

Even the great Margaret Thatcher was shackled in her fight to restore limited government in Great Britain because the welfare state was deeply ingrained into British society.  Rather than fight socialized medicine in the U.K., Lady Thatcher proclaimed the British National Health Service "safe" in conservative hands.

Europe's conservatives no longer run on the basis that limited government and free markets make for a superior governing philosophy.  As the New York Times reported amid conservative party victories in Germany, France, the U.K., and other European nations:

Europe's center-right parties have embraced many ideas of the left: generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union. But they have won votes by promising to deliver more efficiently than the left, while working to lower taxes, improve financial regulation, and grapple with aging populations.

Be it Gingrich's big ideas or Romney's managerial record, both are running on competency with only a rhetorical devotion to truly limited government.

Many excuse the former speaker for his legion of awful ideas because, as a commentator and author, his job is to create solutions.  Indeed, Gingrich has been called a "one-man think-tank."  Gingrich defenders discount the Think=Tank's big-government flirtations by pointing to his time as speaker as the superior evidence of his conservatism.  Truly, the 1990s' brief bend in the ever-upward spending curve was a positive accomplishment, as was welfare reform.

But RedState's Eric Erickson recently unearthed a telling account of the Gingrich speakership from Senator Tom Coburn's book Breach of Trust.

It became clear to [Coburn] that Speaker Gingrich, House Majority Leader Armey and the rest of the Republican leadership were not what they pretended to be. They were revolutionaries in name only, content to take possession from the Democrats of the machinery of government and then run it virtually unchanged.

If America is to be preserved, we need more than a spending-curve-bender, content to operate the machinery of government virtually unchanged.  We need a president who looks at government and understands its limitations, not a president who looks at government and imagines its possibilities.

Gingrich, for his many strengths, is no anti-Romney.  Both men are brilliant and successful in their own right, but both are all too willing to expand the power of the state, believing that their skill and intellect will finally make big government work.

Joseph Ashby is a contributor to Jonah Goldberg's latest book, Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation.  Joseph can be heard Thursday mornings at 7:35am CST on the KHUB Morning Show with Matt Price.