I must confess: I don't like Newt Gingrich. He's an insufferable bore. He talks too much. He has an opinion about everything, none of it conciliatory. Most of it in fact is irrational. He is not what anyone might consider to be a deep thinker. While Barack Obama demonstrates leadership abroad, Gingrich is pursuing worn-out ideas that continue to harp on government spending, waste in Washington and the need for unregulated tax cuts for the rich, none of which are on the minds of shoppers at Costco or Walmart.
Consider the opinions of Gingrich on the Belgian Congo; on race relations in the U.S.; about immigration from across the border; or how to treat underprivileged, hungry people. The inference is fairly clear. Gingrich has never been challenged by his all-white panelists on the CNN election platform. None of the presidential candidates who cluttered cable television last week were ready to respond to tough questions. The panel overall was as meek as mice.
After an airing of the past revelations uttered by Gingrich, it is impossible to imagine how many African-American or Latino voters will cast a ballot for him as president. Gingrich is an uncontrollable motor mouth. Yet, despite such flaws, many of his supporters still believe him fit to be a president or world leader..
As Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist of the New York Times said of Gingrich recently "He is a glib speaker, even when he has no idea of what he is talking about." Krugman went on to say "My sense is that he's very good at double think -- that even when he knows what he's said isn't true while he's saying it.
To any reporter who has covered politics from the highest to the lowest level -- and I've covered many including the ill-fated Goldwater campaign in 1964 -- it's clear that Gingrich is tempted to say anything in public once he has access to a microphone or platform. Careless ideas simply roll off his tongue. So outrageous, often times he can shock anyone within hearing distance. Gingrich has disdain for many Americans; not only poor ones, but blacks, gays, Arabs, or welfare recipients for starters. His analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is so absurd and over-simplified you would have to worry if he were elected president.
But Gingrich is not the sole champion of negative thinking in Republican ranks. The tactic may easily come back to haunt him on Election Day, if he gets that far. Having covered enough national politics, instinct tells me that a persistent negative campaign could sink the GOP. On the other hand, I would not be surprised by an Obama victory next November, providing he makes a slight indent in the unemployment and inflation figures. My hunch then is the President could win re-election next year and even by a substantial margin.
The problem for the GOP is that it is devoid of real solutions to cope with the economic doldrums gripping the nation. Moreover, it is trapped in a campaign with such implicit racist implications, it's a miracle that so many of its political experts act as if it they didn't exist.
From election day on, the Republicans have focused on getting Obama out of the White House, no matter the cost. But the president has been savvy enough politically to avoid turning it into a food fight. While every Republican office-holder or candidate seems determined since Day One to defeat Obama; no matter what the president says or stands for; regardless of what positive social policy he proposes and no matter how dedicated he is to reducing the number of American soldiers in Iraq, the Republicans say no.
They act as if they are deaf or blind to the latest polls that show 77 percent of the American people support the president. John McCain, Lindsay Graham and other prominent Republican legislators truck out every absurd excuse for keeping American troops on the ground in a war that literally ended months ago. You could ask how many of their own sons have ever served in Iraq or Afghanistan? But the answer would be insignificant. Having covered wars all over the world and seen body bags ad nauseum, the notion of reporting the number of American families that have sacrificed their sons or loved ones for vague objectives is painful for me.
Aggravating the nightly political discourse, the artificial debates staged by the cable networks are a waste of time. They are tailored to provoke outrageous arguments, so much so that anyone skilled in broadcasting should be demanding that more producers be hired to exercise control over the nonsense. Viewers are never told how difficult it is to win passage of any legislation in a divided Congress. Consequently, the American people have a negative view of government.
While Barack Obama exercises leadership abroad, the Republicans are pursuing worn out ideas that continue to harp on government spending, waste in Washington and the need for unregulated tax cuts for the rich. That's not what everyday shoppers at Wal-mart or Costco are talking about.
As Krugman said of Gingrich, "He's very good at double think -- even when he knows that what he's said isn't true while he's saying it."
It's enough to encourage serious voters to move to Iceland.