The case for Newt is that he’s nothing like that guy who used to be governor of Massachusetts. The case for Romney is very similar.
After having been written off last summer when most of his aides quit, Newt Gingrich is rising in the polls and has won the Manchester Union Leader’s endorsement. If he goes on to win the nomination, the parallel to John McCain’s 2008 campaign will be uncanny. The Union Leader argued that Republicans should look not just for a candidate who can beat Obama but for one who has innovative ideas. Primary voters may place more weight on electability. But it’s certainly true that Gingrich does not need to prove that he is a creative thinker. What he needs to prove is that he is capable of a maturity and steadiness that he did not show either in his time as Speaker or in the early days of this campaign. Admirers of his intellect and energy must certainly hope so.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, among others, has assailed Gingrich for saying that the only “humane” policy toward illegal immigrants is to give legal status to those with deep roots in their communities — those who have been here “25 years,” he said illustratively. But none of the candidates has categorically excluded offering a limited amnesty after we are sure that the inflow of illegal immigrants has largely stopped. Bachmann herself has been open to the idea. The real flaws of Gingrich’s policy lie elsewhere. His proposal for a program to import “temporary workers” assumes, implausibly, that we will not grant U.S. citizenship to their children and that we will maintain a large legal labor force with no right to vote. His amnesty would be administered, he says, by local community boards deciding which of 11 million illegal immigrants should stay. We await the day when Gingrich’s thoughts turn as serious as his instincts are humane.
When Bachmann walked onstage to greet Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s Late Night, the house band played a 26-year-old pop song whose title suggested that she was a spiteful or lewd woman, dishonest to her fundament. Memo to conservatives: They hate you, and this will happen forever — not every time, maybe, but every so often. We have four options: Avoiding their shows is self-ghettoization; appearing and saying nothing is self-dhimmitude; fighting snark with snark is the high-wire act, perfected by WFB but open to few of us. Option four is to do what Bachmann did: protest, which prompted apologies from Fallon and an NBC veep. N.B.: Kudos to Bachmann colleague Rep. Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.), who called the musical ambush “insulting and inappropriate.”
Barney Frank will be remembered as the first House member to reveal voluntarily that he was gay, as the man who demanded that we “roll the dice” on the housing-market shenanigans of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and as one half of the defective duo behind the Dodd-Frank financial-reform legislation. If they were seeking a symbol of normality, gay Americans could have done better: Representative Frank was reprimanded by the House after it was discovered that a male prostitute he patronized was running a prostitution ring from congressman’s home. But Representative Frank’s sexual shenanigans cost the nation little; his role in protecting the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the restraint and oversight they so obviously needed contributed to a financial meltdown and recession that have cost us trillions. (The fact that he was dating a Fannie Mae executive while enabling the agency does not look good, either.) His last hurrah in the House was the Dodd-Frank bill, which meddles with the pettiest of issues but does little or nothing to address the underlying causes of the mortgage bubble, meaning that the same congressman who played a role in creating the last financial crisis may end up playing a role in the next one. His retirement is welcome.
Occupy Wall Street was cleaned out of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, not with a bang, but with a whiff. “I pick up garbage” for a living, one sanitation man told the New York Post, “and these were some of the worst smells I’ve ever experienced.” But the aroma followed the encampment into memory. The Occupiers were becoming a drag on their own movement, hence their tacit willingness to be moved along. The gropes, the disease, and the disorder will linger in the minds of the impressionable as rites of passage, like the brown acid at Woodstock. The hard Left enjoyed a national two-minute drill (remember the shutdown of the Port of Oakland, and the sit-in at the Israeli consulate in Boston). After two years of casting about, liberals finally have a tea party of their own: unsatisfactory in many respects, but capable of being revived as the unions or the 2012 election require. And underlying all is America’s economic malaise, which Obama doesn’t understand, congressional Republicans alone can’t fix, and drumming or ending the Fed won’t solve.
The day after a Republican debate, CNN reporter Dan Lothian had a question for President Obama: Are the Republicans “uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible?” Funny, that’s our question about the mainstream media.