The Gingrich effect

The Gingrich effect, as spelled out by Dorothy Rabinowitz in today’s Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Why Gingrich Could Win,” shows how Newt Gingrich could win the Republican nomination. And that if he does, it will be for matters of substance over style.

Ms Rabinowitz reminds us, as though it were needed, that His Newtness is the smartest guy in the room. Always. Newt is a policy wonk, ’tis true. Unlike so many of the breed, however, Newt also has the gift of gab. As Ms R points out, in the Republican debates so far,

The former speaker has stood out at these forums, the debater whose audiences seem to hang on his words and on a flow of thought rich in substance, a world apart from the usual that the political season brings.

Fair enough. In the debates I’ve watched, it’s no contest: Newt wins on substance. Presidents, however, as should be evident, don’t get elected on substance, or on being the smartest guy in the room. The incumbent, a lightweight’s lightweight, is testimony to this harsh fact of American sound-bite politics.

However, Newt isn’t just a policy wonk. He did manage to get himself elected Speaker of the House. No mean feat.

As for the competition for the Republican nod, let’s see: Rick Perry is too Texan; Herman Cain (may be*) too grabby. Michele Who; Rick Santorum, stuck in reverse; Ron Paul is clearly the Dwarf named Cranky, had there been one so named. Then there are two or so others, whose names aren’t even worth recalling here.

What about Mr Inevitable, Mitt Romney? The man decreed to be the “most electable,” the man whose turn has come up? Remains to be seen how powerful the conservative wing of our Party is. If Cain is not a factor, as Perry and Bachmann seem now to have become, that leaves Newt as the Not-Romney candidate.

We’ve done worse.
Herman Cain now has three women who are claiming
some sort of bad behavior on his part. He has denied
all allegations, and is innocent until proven guilty.
That’s all true, but in politics, especially if you’re
a conservative, you don’t get a pass the way Ted
Kennedy and Bill Clinton did.


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