Jewish World Review Nov 16, 2011/ 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
In Debates, Newt Gingrich's Real Target Is Obama
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | He's baaack!
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is back in the saddle after falling off his horse at the starting line. At least according to one poll (Public Policy Polling), Gingrich is actually the
Many say it's simply Gingrich's turn to be the not-Mitt contender, now that
But that's not entirely fair. Gingrich has been relentlessly seducing
Moreover, he's been deftly using the debates to develop a sales pitch to
But the core of his strategy has been to plant a question in the minds of Republican voters. The question he wants them to ask is, "Whom would you most like to see debate
In each debate, he keeps mentioning how he wants to challenge the president to as many Lincoln-Douglas-style debates as possible. And if the presidential baloney won't march into the Gingrichian grinder? Well then, the grinder will come to the baloney. Gingrich vows to follow Obama on the stump, offering rapid response after every presidential utterance.
It's a brilliant tactic. Watching Gingrich walk onto the debate stage, it's like seeing a great beast returned to its natural habitat. They should play "Born Free" whenever he comes out from behind the curtain.
The tactic works because the unifying conviction among hard-core Republican voters is that Obama is both overrated and full of it, a man pretending to be presidential and intellectual rather than the real thing. (Ironically, Gingrich has long been the subject of similar criticisms, mostly from the left.) Gingrich's promise to goad Obama into a fair fight is beyond tantalizing.
Talk to rank-and-file conservatives about such a matchup and they grow giddy, like nerds asked if they'd like to see a battle between
The risk for Gingrich is that primary voters may eventually recognize what he's up to. After all, as a purely practical matter, the point of picking a Republican nominee isn't to find the candidate who can beat Obama in a debate but to pick the nominee who can beat Obama in an election (oh, and be a good president too, a worthy subject for another day). Winning debates is great and important -- as Perry has painfully learned -- but they are a means to an end, not an end unto themselves.
It's an open question whether Gingrich can defeat Obama in 2012. It's taken as a truism that he has "too much baggage." Well, some of the baggage is lighter than it appears. He was cleared by the Clinton-era
But, as with
On the other hand, this could be Gingrich's moment. Perry was undone by the debates because voters understand that the only way to beat Obama is to take the argument to him, particularly because -- from a Republican perspective at least -- the mainstream media has little interest in holding Obama accountable.
Maybe it is time to cue "Born Free."
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