Why Newt?

Since pundits are wildly speculating about why Newt Gingrich is soaring in the Republican primary opinion polls, I’ll add my “two cents.” The disturbing question to many focuses on the fact that Newt has a history, both personal and political. Some Republican insiders who have dealt with Newt from the time when he was Speaker of the House just plain don’t like him. It’s a personality thing. Others are concerned that he “thinks out loud”, that many of his copious ideas would be better left unsaid. He was ousted from the House speakership because of an ethics charge. He was unfaithful to his wife. Why, with all this “baggage” dragging behind him, has Newt’s popularity as a potential candidate risen so far so quickly?

Mitt Romney by contrast has no such baggage as far as anyone knows. He’s articulate, clean, upright, intelligent, knowledgeable. He has administrative experience both in business and as Governor of Massachusetts. He saved the Olympics! Yet his poll numbers seem anchored in place.

In the General Election, as a Conservative Republican I’ll vote for or anyone but Obama. I even know of one Conservative who said he would “vote for Putin before he’d vote for Obama.” I wouldn’t go that far, but I get the point. I’m certainly not part of the “anyone but Romney” faction. That, however, is in the General Election. In the Primary, we still have to make a choice, and here’s Newt Gingrich (Liberals, insert here “of all people”) surging in the polls while long-time putative front runner Mitt Romney lags behind.

We know that this campaign is going to be rough and tumble beyond the usual. It’s going to be vile and dirty. Whoever is going to win over the likes of SEIU, and ACORN will have to be willing to “throw an elbow” or two. (Recall that former SEIU leader, Andy Stern, said that if they can’t win with the “power of persuasion” they’ll have to resort to the “persuasion of power”)

Romney’s problem is that he is a consummate gentleman. He seems to prefer giving others the benefit of the doubt. It’s uncharacteristic of him to raise his voice. He demonstrates that it’s possible to carry moderation to extremes.

Enter Newt. While Gingrich has steadfastly refused to attack his fellow primary candidates, he has no such reservations about liberals whom he has fought for years. To put it bluntly, Gingrich is pissed off with liberalism, in particular as practiced by the present administration. His anger shows in his facial expression. You can hear it in his voice. You can see it in his gestures. It’s in his gut and it’s real. He knows that team Obama is trying to fundamentally transform the country into a bureaucratic, centrally-planned welfare state, and he doesn’t like it. (I won’t use the word Socialist. I know the President is sensitive about that.)

Why, then, is Gingrich drawing ahead in the polls? Republicans are beginning to see that he gets it and that he has ideas to undo the harm that this administration has done in a mere three and a half years. He asks questions like, “Can you stand four more years of this?” The answer is “No”, and while other candidates like Bachmann and Santorum may be thinking this, Newt is increasingly viewed as the one who has taken off the gloves. It’s about time.

At least that’s how it looks from here.

Dwight Boud

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