Newt and the Governing Class
I just returned from the belly of the beast, Washington, D.C. There is not a more parochial or insular city in the country. While there, I had a conversation with two members of what can be described only as the Republican establishment, one in the print media and the other a K Street lobbyist. In short order, the conversation turned to Newt Gingrich and his surge to the top of the ladder.
There is no one more reviled in Washington than Newt. If anyone believes he is part of the establishment, he or she is mistaken. In fact, it would not be a terribly great stretch to say some in the Republican wing of the governing class would prefer to see Obama re-elected than Newt in the Oval Office. However, the vast majority of this class are now in a panic as the preordained choice, Mitt Romney, is truly threatened by the rabble in flyover country constantly looking for anyone but Romney. These people have settled, so it seems, on Gingrich. The increasing volume of commentary of the Beltway insiders and attendant vitriol toward Newt has become a near-hysterical tidal wave rehashing and embellishing Newt's supposed failings and personal "baggage."
Much of this stems from his days as House minority leader and later speaker, when he ruffled many feathers as his, at times, abrasive and assertive personality was on full display. Newt was relentless, with a near-imperious and dictatorial demeanor, in getting many of his and other conservative ideas into law, and he never failed to expound on whatever came to the forefront of his mind. One must realize that there are no more tender egos than those in Congress, in the Washington media, or in the upper reaches of the entrenched bureaucracy. They are all always the smartest in any room (regardless of party affiliation) and do not take kindly to being told otherwise or denigrated by someone who refused to become absorbed by and subservient to the dominant Washington culture.
Thus, many cannot fathom why Newt, of all people, would be in first place in the polls. Since last November, once the midterm elections were over, it was assumed by all sides that Romney would be the one standing at the end, once those fools in the Tea Party movement and other conservative groups, either fiscal or social, had their favorite choices dashed upon the rocks of incompetence, sleaze, ignorance, and innuendo. For the most part, that scenario has indeed come to pass -- except that those same fools are now turning to someone the establishment never thought possible: Newt Gingrich.
This election is no longer about Republicans vs. Democrats, but about the Governing Class vs. the rest of the country. The Republican base has been sold down the river every election cycle since 1988. They have, nontheless, supported whoever was nominated for president. The Bushes turned out to be simply enablers of Democratic economic and spending policies, at best slowing down but never reversing the course that has put the country today on the precipice of failure. The last GOP nominee was unwilling to take on his opponent in a no-holds-barred manner, while the Democrats continuously and successfully demeaned and slandered him. In either case, there was never any passion or commitment to conservative principles these nominees claimed to have during the primary process.
The Republican failures of the past 23 years culminated in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and a dramatic acceleration toward national insolvency and societal upheaval.
The people who care about America are no longer willing to just settle for a candidate who is a mirror-image of all those who have been chosen since 1988. They want someone who is unafraid, willing to take the blows and deliver them with equal force, with a record of actual accomplishments and the tenacity so vital to reversing the course the nation is presently on. Barack Obama will have the better part of a billion dollars at his disposal to wage a scorched-earth campaign and to do or say anything to win re-election; the rank and file of the conservative movement know this and understand the need for a brawler to take on Obama's glass jaw.
Is Newt the ideal candidate? No. But of all those now on stage, he alone has exhibited those essential traits. That is why, despite the best efforts of the media and the Democratic and Republican establishment, Newt is surging in the polls. I believe that Newt, or any other non-Romney candidate chosen, can win against Obama, who will be forced to defend his record by someone who will be unafraid to highlight it as well as make an issue of his character flaws and radical ideological make-up. It is not in Romney's or the Republican establishment's mindset to take off the gloves in the general election.
Perhaps the Republican establishment will win in the end and Mitt Romney will be the nominee -- but it will not be without a fight, and the Republican sector of the governing class will be shaken to its core. If Romney secures the nomination and loses or wins the presidency and the nation does not experience a 180-degree course-reversal, then 2016 will mark the end of the Republican Party.
These words were not greeted warmly by my two acquaintances, but as it has been often said: the times are a-changin. Those now safely ensconced within the Beltway are being sent a warning. It is not the deep emotional desire to choose Newt Gingrich that has changed the landscape of the nominating process in 2012, but what he represents -- a threat to the establishment.