Jewish World Review Nov 23, 2011/ 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
Sizing up a Gingrich-Romney showdown
By Jonah Goldberg
Whether the matchup between
Still, let's assume for the moment that it's a Gingrich-Romney contest.
It's quite a matchup. Romney has been brutalized for having too little personality, Gingrich for having way, way too much. Romney looks like the picture that comes with the frame. Gingrich looks like he should be ensconced in royal velvet as he gestures at you with a half-eaten turkey leg in one hand and a sloshing goblet of wine in the other. Romney seems terrified of fully committing to any idea. Gingrich speaks as if he just text-messaged with God.
Gingrich would have everyone believe he is the winner of the anti-Romney mantle not merely by default but by hard-won effort and a well-deserved reputation for conservative steadfastness. Many in the media, meanwhile, think that since Gingrich is taking the slot once held by Palin, Bachmann, Cain and Perry, he is a conservative of similar stripe. And many liberals think that since they hate him so much, he must be really right-wing. (They made the same mistake with
The reality is more complicated. For starters, it's not altogether clear that Gingrich is that far to the right of Romney.
Gingrich's record -- political and rhetorical -- is so vast and diverse, there's plenty of evidence to build almost any narrative you want. He's said some of the most bombastic right-wing things of any mainstream Republican in our lifetimes, but he's also reached across the aisle more frequently than far-more-liberal Republicans would ever dare.
As House speaker, he cut a deal with
Gingrich has since retracted and modified his stance on the Ryan plan. And he's called his pairing with Pelosi one of the stupidest things he's ever done.
Still, those who dismiss Gingrich as hopelessly unelectable in the general election should at least keep in mind that Gingrich's apostasies will make it harder to tar him as a cookie-cutter "right-wing extremist."
The crucial question for most Republicans will be: Who would govern more conservatively? The candidate who answers that question to the satisfaction of the
If the Republicans take back the
Gingrich, meanwhile, is much more of a wild card. It's no secret he sees himself as a world historical figure, the last of the great statesmen. And part of that self-conception is his idea that statesmen cut grand bargains with the opposition when history calls for it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, if you know for sure when history calls for it. If the
Given the craziness of the season, I've been humbled enough to say I have no idea how this will play out. But I will admit, I'm looking forward to the next steel cage match.
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