Beyond his assessment of the presidential race, Newt Gingrich was what many of us have come to expect from him – inspired, rapid-fire, gleefully combative, with more obscure references to history books and political texts than a Dennis Miller monologue.
He said conservatives are facing “a crisis of performance.” The government has demonstrated, at multiple levels, that it just doesn’t work… “After many years of Republicans controlling Congress, and six years of a Republican presidency, having the government not work is a liability.” He said that having seen Republican management of government fail in recent years, the American people are turning to “the party of government… there is the largest appetite for big government out there since Jimmy Carter. It’s perverse, but having seen government not work, the American people are saying they want more of it.”
“If, by this time next year, we’re still in the Bush era, we lose,” Newt warned, meaning not merely that Bush was president but that he was seen as the dominant figure in Republican and conservative politics. He predicted that next year’s presidential race will tighten between the Republican convention and the election, as Americans would stop being angry about the past and focus on the choices in the future. He compared it to Gerald Ford closing the gap and nearly overtaking Jimmy Carter in 1976. Furthermore, Newt said that if the country is still in the “Bush era” – meaning that the GOP nominee does not represent a break from Bush’s policies – and somehow the Republicans win anyway, “we will be in a shambles.”
He said that the Democratic party’s policies, top to bottom, will “kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” He said he wanted the creators of the JibJab online cartoons to do something in the vein of “can the geese fly?” Meaning, in the global economy, the major question is, where will the jobs be? If the Congress is destructive, the geese will fly away. He urged conservatives to describe how Democratic proposals are “job killers” and ask their opponents, “Why are you pushing job-killing ideas?”
He said any society that does not protect those who report suspicious and potential terrorist activity from lawsuits, as the Democratic majority in Congress just voted, “has suicidal tendencies.”
He said 93 to 94 percent of the Muslim world wants “nothing to do with al-Qaeda or the Taliban or their ideology.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Gingrich said the wisest thing President Bush could do on the Iraq debate is “be quiet.” He recommended Bush let Gen. Petreus and Ambassador Crocker go to Capitol Hill and deal with the Democrats. “They’ll get a better deal than Bush would.”
He pointed to Obama’s comments the other day, that a potential genocide in Iraq is not sufficient reason to keep U.S. troops there, and said conservative should put the spotlight on a comment like that and ask, “What kind of a message does that send to the rest of the planet? Why risk your life to help the Americans? Why ally yourself with the Americans when you know they’re going to leave?”
“If you think it’s possible to build a moat around America, and close ourselves off from the rest of the world, then Howard Dean is a perfectly compelling crazy person.”
If Newt jumps into the presidential race, he’ll face a long, tough, uphill slog for the nomination. I think a lot of conservatives, however, would stand up and applaud any nominee who said Newt would be his chief Domestic Policy Advisor.