Don’t forget what happened the last time Republicans nominated a smart, eloquent, combative egomaniac to take on Obama.
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Gingrich received attention in the first few Republican presidential debates by attacking debate moderators. He lambasted one for asking “gotcha questions” and called another’s request to sum up his position on healthcare reform in 30 seconds “absurd.”
Such combativeness has made Gingrich look tough against a media that so many conservatives loathe. But it may not play as well with moderate and independent voters in a general election.
Keyes and Gingrich both use unnecessarily inflammatory language and sometimes raise irrelevant issues just to make a point. Keyes labeled homosexuals “self-hedonists,” and insisted that adoptions by gay couples would result in incest. He accused Obama of embracing a “slave-holders” position on abortion and labeled Obama a “hardcore, academic Marxist.” Keyes even suggested that Obama was not really African American because he is not a descendant of slaves and declared that “Christ would not vote for Barack Obama.”
These are the types of things conservative activists tell their supporters in fundraising letters. They have no place in political debates before audiences of voters who are just getting to know the candidates.
Gingrich has been similarly divisive, suggesting that Obama is a “Saul Alinsky radical,” and that the Palestinians are an “invented” people. Off the debate stage, Gingrich has called Obama the “food stamp president” who may hold a “Kenyan anti-colonial” worldview and suggested that the liberal agenda is “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.” He even accused Obama’s first Supreme Court appointee, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Justice, of being a “racist.”
Such comments have helped Gingrich stay in the news and gain Twitter followers, but they don’t make him appear presidential.
Both Keyes and Gingrich have embraced off-the-wall positions and picked curious fights with Republicans. In the 2004 campaign, Keyes came out in support of reparations in the form of a suspension of the income tax for all blacks with slave ancestry.
Gingrich’s heterodoxies are too numerous to list, and include past support for legislative action to combat global warming and more recently referring to Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform plan as “right-wing social engineering.”
I don’t mean to suggest that Keyes and Gingrich are equally plausible as candidates. Keyes was a last-minute candidate who had never held elected office, never lived in Illinois and had virtually no chance of beating Obama.
Gingrich spent 20 years in the House of Representatives, rising to the speakership. He helped engineer the Contract with America and the first Republican takeover of the House in 40 years.
Perhaps most important, Keyes faced a rising State Senator Obama, while Gingrich would do battle against a diminished President Obama.
But at their core, Keyes and Gingrich are the same: both seem more interested in rhetorical point-scoring and intellectual exhibitionism than in winning elections or governing.
Keyes was quite effective in one respect. “[Keyes got] under my skin in a way that few people ever have,” Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope, adding that Keyes’ verbal attacks left him “frequently tongue-tied, irritable and uncharacteristically tense.”
Obama cruised to victory with 70 percent of the vote — winning by a 43-point margin, the largest in the state’s history of U.S. Senate elections.
Keyes didn’t lose despite his oratory, but rather in part because of it. As Obama put it, “Keyes proceeded during the course of a mere three months to offend just about everybody.” Or as one Illinois voter told USA Today about Keyes, “The man is always lecturing. I will not be lectured to.” It is reasonable to think Gingrich would provoke a similar response from many voters.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?