Additional responses regarding Newt:
"...I agree that Obama hasn’t been perfect and even disappointing at times, but I will vote for him again unless there’s someone better. So far, the options seem worse to me. I really can’t imagine your ever voting for Charlie Sheen, except as an alternative to the Donald."
We really love your insight and comparative analysis. I really wish we had a stronger group this go around. It seems that most of the group is so set on destroying the others for the nomination that it looks like the party is unorganized. Ill-prepared and too fragmented. It will be interesting to see how things congeal as the herd thins out in the upcoming primaries.
That you received so many responses is, I think, telling. My guess is Newt would win in a landslide against Obama. Especially if he put Christie on the ticket.
I think Romney is better than Obama, mainly as a caretaker manager, but not as a man who can improve things. Obama is a thinker but has disappointed me. What we need is a forward thinker like me but no one's asked me yet. This is a different world than we grew up in and needs a lot of different things our government is not looking at. I believe that government's role is to influence the direction of it's people and to set up systems for private enterprise to accomplish the goals.
As a good example, health care for all is a desirable goal. This is a desirable goal for government because we the people should care about our neighbors and because health is not a choice we make. It is thrust upon us more from circumstances or events beyond our control. This goal can be carried out through national health insurance which spreads risk, and not by excluding people because they can't get insurance and, therefore, have to carry the entire burden; or by passing the burden to the local public hospital which is very inefficient. Health is a gift from G-d and we, as a society, should be willing to share our good health fortune with those who are less lucky. Isn't that a role for society (government of the people) to care about?
Without getting too deep into one topic, why couldn't a law have been passed that collected insurance premiums from everyone through a tax and then allows everyone who wants insurance to pick a private provider paid for from the premium fund. Those who thought they didn't want to have insurance can elect not to get it and their unused money could be kept aside to pay for the idiots among them who end up requesting medical care but didn't pick insurance. Just one of many ideas I would have accepted. Benefits: Central and efficient premium collection, larger insurance pool, everyone is covered, improves private industry.
Love, ME, too
PS. I'd be a libertarian if they believed they had a role beyond saying no.
Thanks for your reply. There are many ideas that are better than 'Obamascare' to resolve the health issue and yes, if our Constitution guarantees us the 'right to pursue happiness' then it is arguable one should not be happy unless they have access to some kind of affordable health care.
There is, however, something called preventative maintenance. We apply it to your vehicles but not to ourselves.
Keep thinking as you do and present your thoughts to powers that be.
In Oslo now.
While I agree with most of the comments and your responses. There are two dimensions that I would add:
1) as someone who served in numerous search committees - including those for university presidents and provosts (deans, faculty etc.) - I know full well the tendency of many to want someone who is God's boss. Nothing short than that is acceptable. Problem is that God is too busy for such jobs and his boss is nowhere to be found. To be sure this a metaphor only and no reference is implied to son and father but to our God as we perceive it. We want a president who is a scholar, publisher, mastered large grants, had administrative experience, has vision etc. Yet we tend to forget that being a university president (or a country's) is being a CEO where the past is only a necessary condition but not necessarily a sufficient one to indicate success. That is why many good teachers become bad principals. Or - those who can do, those who can't teach, and those who cannot teach become deans. Frankly the best I have heard in these searches is the need for a candidate to "get us to be able to give the best in us".
2) analogously, many forget that voting for a candidate does not mean this is the president you will get (rarely is it). The incumbent is a very good illustration of that principle at least for those who did not know better and now have buyers' remorse. I do not have any buyer's remorse as i never bought the product or the seller. Thus, all those who are desperately looking for the perfect candidate I have news for them: none is or ever will exist. No single human being is capable of being bright, ego-less, competent, good CEO, visionary, inclusive, expert in all fields including economics and foreign affairs and the list goes on. The mistake is anchored in looking for perfection instead of accepting realities.
I see two realities: one under the incumbent, the other under Martin Sheen (to use your example). To me the answer is obvious.
I am tired of Panetta and Clinton preaching to Israel and to the Jewish community and having a Jewish anti-Semite as our ambassador in Belgium. Leibler handled it well by suggesting the current party In Power harks back to the Buchanan days...
The above is from a dear friend, a nationally known,if not internationally known, professor of criminology and one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of knowing.
I agree leadership is not 'takeovership' and we can learn, or should, from our failures. Government takes over and generally fails and thus we become dependent and never have the opportunity of learning ourselves.
Government 'substitution failure' is neither logical nor the solution!
I have always maintained I tried to raise my kids with "healthy neglect." If politicians only understood.
Thanks. "In Oslo at a conference where just now the former president of Mexico (Ernesto Zedillo) argued the Tea Party doesn't understand market economy since they are anti-government. I may have missed it but always thought the Tea Party was in favor of limited government as opposed to no government. I am a bit surprised that an intelligent person like him - who is also a director on the board of CitiGroup - would say this."
My addendum response:
What he is saying is if you cannot have 'big' government then you are opposed to government. CitiGroup is in dire trouble.
I view Newt as I did Clinton. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about their personal lives. I want someone who is capable of generating great thoughts and leading. I question my own ability to judge after getting fooled by Obama, but Newt and Clinton worked well together to produce a pretty nice time for our nation…(though one could argue how nice was exaggerated by reckless monetary policy from Greenspan.) Anyhow….Newt’s past is ugly, but whose isn’t. For a nation living in glass houses it is amazing how accurate we are with our stones.
The problem with disregarding personal morals is how can you be the world leader and try to convince others to uphold certain ideals?
Nunn once responded to a question I once put to him about Carter and what positive he would be known for and Sam responded, without hesitation, 'introducing human rights into our foreign policy.'
The president of Israel is in jail for rape. The guy who allegedly attacked a maid in a New York hotel was supposedly going to become the next leader of France?
Once you quit looking up to your leadership or have the kind you cannot look up to I am not sure that is the route to take. When all else fails lower your standards.
I hear frustration more than rational thinking.
I’d rather have a sinner that knows what is going on than a saint that doesn’t.
I see your point, but our values filter, IMO, is far too narrow.
I am frustrated as many are. I’ll throw this question to you. If we were given a candidate that was guaranteed to reduce our deficits and debt, set the country on a long-term sustainable fiscal path, jump-start the economy and get unemployment under 6%, fix entitlement programs to make them sustainable as well…the candidate was guaranteed to do all these things…BUT the candidate is a flawed man. He abandoned a child he fathered, was a 3x divorcee and serial philanderer. Do you think he would win election? I doubt it.
And that, to me, is a problem.
My addendum response:
To be a successful leader you need to convince people to follow. If we continue electing controversial and questionable people we will never re-stitch the nation's torn fabric thereby, heal the wounds and thus, guarantees may turn into dust and empty promises. Perhaps we are so philosophically divided we will never get Humpty back on the wall.
If you succeed with a moral loser I believe you also lose in the long run.
Granted, the leader of any nation is a passing figurehead but more importantly, while in office, he is a father figure. Would you want a rapist for Pope?
Look at the athletes in the NBA etc. Role models? Their pay, their personal lives are a sad commentary on our society's ethic, and who we look up to so consequently, I no longer care to watch professional sports. Vick is not my kind of vapor rub!
I believe, as we worship athletes and entertainers, whose personal lives are tragic. it is symbolic of how low our own expectations, standards, self-esteem and morals have sunk. That is why, I believe, we opted for Obama. We no longer can discern a scam artist because we worship them.
2012 wish list from one irate friend and memo reader: Subject: My 2012 Wish
List:"HERE IS ALL I Want
Congress: Obey its own laws
Language: English only
Culture: Constitution, and the Bill of Rights!
Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare!
NO freebies to: Non-Citizens!"
I hope it gets filled.
Meanwhile, frustrated by Newt's rise, Romney is considering a rash strategy. (See 1 below.)
I have been reading the definitive biography of Spencer Tracy by James Curtis - one of my male movie heroes. I am about a third through this 1100 page treatise.
Spencer Tracy was a fabulous actor. A professional in every sense of the word. A champion of his craft.
He was also a very complex man who felt a deep personal guilt and believed his sins of infidelity were the cause of his son being born deaf.
Notwithstanding the fact that Tracy fought alcohol addiction during his entire Hollywood career he was loved and respected by his peer group - many of whom were far more addicted than even Spence.
The author leaves nothing out about Tracy and the many actresses he had intimate affairs but I am truly enjoying the book and recommend it to those who feel about Tracy as I do - a giant among other giants.
Stratfor on Iran and the covert intelligence war.
In one regard the Stratfor analyst already is proven incorrect, ie. the author's speculation about Iran not finding our missing drone.
If the Obama Administration rejected a covert action to retrieve the drone because it would be seen as an act of war then why does Obama not see rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas, Hezballah in a comparable vein? (See 2 and 2a below.)
Unsolicited e mail from a satisfied customer of Sweet Tammy's. (See 3 below.)
Is John Ellis right in his assumptions or an alarmist like I often tend to be? You decide. (See 4 below.)
1)Falling in Polls, Romney Considers Adultery
Huddles with Advisors About Possible Affair
The Borowitz Report
Troubled by fading poll numbers, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is considering a bold strategy to reboot his Presidential campaign: engaging in a high-profile extramarital affair.
At a press conference in Concord, New Hampshire today Mr. Romney confirmed he was consulting with senior advisors about the best way to proceed with an inappropriate relationship.
“Republican voters have sent the message that they want to vote for an adulterer and I have heard them loud and clear,” he said. “I promise that I will engage in a world-class extramarital affair that will make all of us proud again.”
According to one senior advisor, the Romney campaign was already holding focus groups and conducting special polling to determine the best person with whom Mr. Romney should conduct his extracurricular dalliance.
And in a sign that Mr. Romney is taking precipitous action to find an object for his adulterous intentions, today his campaign launched a new dating site, SexyTimeWithMitt.com.
But according to one female visitor to the site, Mr. Romney’s nascent career as a would-be lothario is still very much a work in progress: “When I first went on the site and he listed ‘tougher border control’ as one of his turn-offs, and five minutes later it was a turn-on.”
Still, an aide to Mr. Romney maintains that the former Massachusetts governor has “the right stuff” to be a world-class adulterer: “In the focus groups, the two words we kept hearing over and over again were ‘wooden’ and ‘stiff.’”
2)The Covert Intelligence War Against Iran
STRATFOR By Scott Stewart
There has been a lot of talk in the press lately about a "cold war" being waged by the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies against Iran. Such a struggle is certainly taking place, but in order to place recent developments in perspective, it is important to recognize that the covert intelligence war against Iran (and the Iranian response to this war) is clearly not a new phenomenon.
Indeed, STRATFOR has been chronicling this struggle since early 2007. Our coverage has included analyses of events such as the defection to the West of Iranian officials with knowledge of Tehran's nuclear program; the Iranian seizure of British servicemen in the Shatt al Arab Waterway; the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists; the use of the Stuxnet worm to cripple Iranian uranium enrichment efforts; and Iranian efforts to arm its proxies and use them as a threat to counteract Western pressure. These proxies are most visible in Iraq and Lebanon, but they also exist in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
While the covert intelligence war has been under way for many years, the tempo of events that can readily be identified as part of it has been increasing over the past few months. It is important to note that many of these events are the result of hidden processes begun months or even years previously, so while visible events may indeed be increasing, the efforts responsible for many of them began to increase much earlier. What the activities of recent months do tell us is that the covert war between Iran and its enemies will not be diminishing anytime soon. If anything, with the current withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Iranian nuclear efforts continuing,we likely will see the results of additional covert operations — and evidence of the clandestine activity required to support those operations.
All eyes were on this covert intelligence war after The New York Times published an article Jan. 15 reporting that the United States and Israel worked together to create and launch Stuxnet against the Iranian nuclear program. The visible events related to the intelligence war maintained a relatively steady pace until Oct. 11, when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that two men had been charged in New York with taking part in a plot by the Iranian Quds Force to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, on U.S. soil.
In early November, a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report was issued detailing Iranian efforts toward a nuclear weapons program. While this report did not contain any major revelations, it did contain new specifics and was more explicit than previous IAEA reports in its conclusion that Iran was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The IAEA report resulted in an Israeli-led diplomatic and public relations campaign urging more effective action against Iran, ranging from more stringent sanctions to military operations.
Then, in the early afternoon of Nov. 12, explosions occurred at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ballistic missile base near Tehran, killing 17 people, including a high-ranking IRGC commander who was a critical figure in Iran's ballistic missile program. Iran has insisted the blast was accidental, but speculation has since spread that the explosion could have been part of a sabotage operation carried out by Israeli intelligence. Israeli intelligence officials also have undertaken not-so-subtle efforts to ensure that outside observers believe they were responsible for the blasts.
Later on Nov. 12, the Bahraini government went public with the discovery of an alleged plot involving at least five Bahrainis traveling through Syria and Qatar to carry out attacks against government and diplomatic targets in Bahrain. Iran vehemently denied it was involved and portrayed the plot as a fabrication, just as it responded to the alleged plot against the Saudi ambassador.
The next day, the Iranian press reported that Ahmad Rezai, the son of Mohsen Rezai— who is the secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, a former IRGC commander and a presidential contender — was found dead at a hotel in Dubai. The deputy head of the Expediency Council told the Iranian press that the son's death was suspicious and caused by electric shocks, while other reports portrayed the death as a suicide.
On Nov. 20, the Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the CIA had suspended its operations in Lebanon following the arrest of several of its sources due to sloppy tradecraft on the part of CIA case officers assigned to Beirut. Following this report, the Iranian government announced that it had arrested 12 CIA sources due to tradecraft mistakes. We have been unable to determine if the reports regarding Lebanon are true, merely CIA disinformation or a little of both. Certainly, the CIA would like the Iranians to believe it is no longer active in Lebanon. Even if these reports are CIA spin, they are quite interesting in light of the Oct. 11 announcement of the thwarted assassination plot in the United States and the Nov. 12 announcement of the arrests in Bahrain.
On Nov. 21, the United States and the United Kingdom launched a new wave of sanctions against Iran based on the aforementioned IAEA report. The new sanctions were designed to impact Iran's banking and energy sector. In fact, the United Kingdom took the unprecedented step of totally cutting off Iran's Central Bank from the British financial sector. The Canadian government undertook similar action against the Central Bank of Iran.
On Nov. 28, there were unconfirmed press reports of an explosion in Esfahan, one of Iran's largest cities. These reports were later echoed by a STRATFOR source in Israel, and U.S. sources have advised that explosions did occur in Esfahan and that they caused a significant amount of damage. Esfahan is home to numerous military and research and development facilities, including some relevant to Iran's nuclear efforts. We are unsure which facilities at Esfahan were damaged by the blasts and are trying to identify them.
Elsewhere on Nov. 28, Iran's Guardians Council, a clerical organization that provides oversight of legislation passed by Iran's parliament, approved a bill to expel the British ambassador and downgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries. The next day, Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy in Tehran, along with the British Embassy's residential compound in the city. The angry — and well-orchestrated — mob was protesting the sanctions announced Nov. 21. Iranian authorities did not stop the mob from storming either facility.
On Dec. 1, the European Union approved new sanctions against some 180 Iranian individuals and companies over Iran's support of terrorism and its continued nuclear weapons program. The European Union did not approve a French proposal to impose a full embargo on Iranian oil.
In the early hours of Dec. 4, a small improvised explosive device detonated under a van parked near the British Embassy building in Manama, Bahrain. The device, which was not very powerful, caused little structural damage to the vehicle and none to the building itself.
The next day, an unnamed U.S. official confirmed Dec. 4 reports from several Iranian news outlets that Iran had recovered an RQ-170 "Sentinel" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Iranian territory. The Iranian reports claimed that Iranian forces were responsible for bringing down the Sentinel — some even said the Iranians were able to hack into the UAV's command link. U.S. officials have denied such reports, and it is highly unlikely that Iran was able to take control of a UAV and recover it intact.
The United States is currently in the process of completing the withdrawal of its combat forces from Iraq. With the destruction of the Iraqi military in 2003, the U.S. military became the only force able to counter Iranian conventional military strength in the Persian Gulf region. Because of this, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will create a power vacuum that the Iranians are eager to exploit. The potential for Iran to control a sphere of influence from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean is a prospect that not only frightens regional players such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey but also raises serious concerns in the United States.
As we have noted before, we don't believe that a military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities alone is the answer to the regional threat posed by Iran. Iran's power comes from its ability to employ its conventional forces and not nuclear weapons. Therefore, strikes against its nuclear weapons program would not impact Iran's conventional forces or its ability to interfere with the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz by using its conventional forces asymmetrically against U.S. naval power and commercial shipping. Indeed, any attack on Iran would have to be far broader than just a one-off attack like the June 1981 Israeli strike at Osirak, Iraq, that crippled Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program.
Because of this difficulty, we have seen the Israelis, Americans and their allies attacking Iran through other means. First of all, they are seeking to curb Iran's sphere of influence by working to overthrow the Syrian regime, limit Syria's influence in Iraq and control Hezbollah in Lebanon. They are also seeking to attack Iran's nuclear program by coercing officials to defect, assassinating scientists and deploying cyberwarfare weapons such as the Stuxnet worm.
It is also necessary to recognize that covert action does not occur in a vacuum. Each covert activity requires a tremendous amount of clandestine intelligence-gathering in order to plan and execute it. With so much covert action happening, the clandestine activity undertaken by all sides to support it is obviously tremendous. But as the frequency of this activity increases, so can sloppy tradecraft.
Finally, as we examine this campaign it is remarkable to note that not only are Iran's enemies using covert methods to stage attacks on Iran's nuclear program and military capabilities, they are also developing new and previously unknown methods to do so. And they have shown a willingness to allow these new covert attack capabilities to be unveiled by using them — which could render them useless for future attacks. This willingness to use, rather than safeguard, revolutionary new capabilities strongly underscores the importance of this covert campaign to Iran's adversaries. It also indicates that we will likely see other new forms of covert warfare emerge in the coming months, along with revolutionary new tactical applications of older forms.
2a)Iran exhibits US drone undamaged. US and Israeli intelligence shocked
Iran exhibited the top-secret US stealth drone RQ-170 Sentinel captured on Sunday, Dec. 4. Its almost perfect condition confirmed Tehran's claim that the UAV was downed by a cyber attack, meaning it was not shot down but brought in undamaged by an electronic warfare ambush.
This is a major debacle for the stealth technology the US uses in its warplanes and the drone technology developed by the US and Israel.
The state of the lost UAV refutes the US military contention that the Sentinel's systems malfunctioned. If this had happened, it would have crashed and either been wrecked or damaged. The condition of the RQ-170 intact obliges the US and Israel to make major changes in plans for a potential strike against Iran's nuclear program.
The Obama administration's decision after internal debate not to send US commando or air units into Iran to retrieve or destroy the secret RQ-170 stealth drone which fell into Iranian hands has strengthened the hands of the Israeli faction which argues the case for striking Iran's nuclear installations without waiting for the Americans to make their move.
Senior Israeli diplomatic and security officials who followed the discussion in Washington concluded that, by failing to act, the administration has left Iran not only with the secrets of the Sentinel's stealth coating, its sensors and cameras, but also with the data stored in its computer cells on targets marked out by the US and/or Israeli for attack.
Military sources say that this knowledge compels the US and Israel to revise their plans of attack for aborting the Iranian nuclear program.
Like every clandestine weapons system, the RQ-170 had a self-destruct mechanism to prevent its secrets spilling out to the enemy in the event of a crash or capture. This did not happen. Tehran was able to claim the spy drone was only slightly damaged when they downed it.
The NATO spokesman claimed control was lost of the US UAV and it went missing, a common occurrence for these unmanned aircraft.
The enigmas surrounding its capture continue to pile up. How did Iran know the drone had entered its airspace? How was it caused to land? Most of all, why did the craft's self-destruct mechanism which is programmed to activate automatically fail to work? And if it malfunctioned, why was it not activated by remote control?
Thursday, Dec. 8, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported that from Sunday, Dec. 4, when Tehran announced the stealth drone's capture, the Obama administration weighed sending special commando forces into Iran from bases in Afghanistan to bring the downed aircraft back to Afghanistan or blow it up to destroy the almost intact secret systems - either by a sneak operation or by an air strike.
Iranian officials said the drone was detected near the Iranian town of Kashmar, 200 kilometers from the Afghan border and presumably moved to a military or air base inside the country. The NYT disclosed that the special force would have used "allied agents inside Iran" to hunt down the missing aircraft, the first time Washington has admitted to support from "allied agents" operating covertly in Iran.
In the end, the paper quoted a US official as explaining that the attack option was ruled out "because of the potential it could become a larger incident." If an assault team entered the country, the US "could be accused of an act of war" by Tehran.
The Obama administration's internal discussion on how to handle the loss of the high-value reconnaissance drone was followed tensely in Jerusalem. The decision it took against mounting a mission to recover or destroy the top-secret Sentinel was perceived in Israel as symptomatic of a wider decision to call off the covert war America has been conducting for some months against Iran's drive for a nuclear bomb – at least until the damage caused by RQ-170 incident is fully assessed.
A senior Israeli security official had this to say: “Everything that’s happened around the RQ-170 shows that when it comes to Iran and its nuclear program, the Obama administration and Israel have different objectives. On this issue, each country needs to go its own way.”
3) "Email: Hi Tammy: My name is Steve. I wanted to send you this email to tell you that I think you're amazing! I had the fortunate luck to find your Traditional Challah bread at the Giant Eagle in Century Square. Although it was frightfully expensive (not your fault, it's GE's large mark-up) I bought it anyway because I love Challah bread and have essentially given up hope of ever finding the real thing here in Pittsburgh. Lo and behold, it was ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! The BEST I've ever had, and I've been to many famous and not so famous Jewish delis and bakeries across the USA; Miami, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Austin, Minneapolis, Toledo, Denver, Philadelphia, and lots of other places too. Your traditional Challah bread is perfection, the taste, texture, the way it looks and even smells is total bliss. It's the best bread in this city, without a doubt. I have not had the pleasure of visiting your shop (I didn't know about it) but I plan to very soon. I MUST have more of your sweet Challah bread! I was looking at pictures of your cake creations, all I can say is WOW!! You sure are an artist in your field. Everything you offer is so beautiful, I would feel bad cutting into it or eating it (yeah, right, not this sweet tooth!). I just can't believe how incredible your Challah bread is. I wanted to take some time here to tell you that. You deserve the kudos and congratulations. May I introduce myself to you when I make my first visit to your shop? It would be an honor to meet you in person. You're the BEST! Thanks Tammy for giving us our daily bread! Steve ......."
4)The Question of the Moment
By John Ellis
Actually, it's two questions. Question #1 is: Can Newt Gingrich win the GOP presidential nomination? Question #2 is: what does he need to do to close the sale?
The answer to the first question is yes, he can win.
These are terrifying times. The global financial system hangs in the balance of ever-expanding counter-party risk. An avalanche of debt is cascading down upon us, everywhere. The Middle East is off the rails. The Israelis expect war there in the next 45 days. Jihadists seek to detonate a nuclear device on Broadway. Iran may soon supply them with the means. The European Union could, next week, disintegrate before our eyes. Mexico may soon be a narco-state. That's just a few items on a very long agenda of distress.
Desperate times demand something different. In the 2012 GOP presidential campaign, that demand has created Gingrich, who unlike his rivals, recognizes the peril of our times as we see it.
It is this recognition that propels him forward, makes him credible, confounds his opponents and critics alike. They wonder: How can he stay aloft? Surely this undisciplined, vainglorious, narcissistic opportunist must come crashing back to earth. Everything we know tells us so.
Gingrich has been running circles around his opponents and critics for months now. He has won every debate. He has been the only consistently positive candidate in those debates. He has talked fluently about the enormity of the American challenge. He has dismissed the ridiculous press games of “gotcha” as unbecoming and beneath contempt. He has been resolute in his opposition to the appeasement of radical Islam, steadfast in his support for modern science, and wide open to any idea that might lead to the unshackling of America’s future from the broken and soon-to-be bankrupt social model that now serves as an emblem of national dysfunction.
The wonder is that he isn’t further ahead.
The others argue that past is prelude: Romney says he will turn it around, as he has other ventures. Perry will Texify and re-Christianize America, thus making it prosper. Huntsman insists that the Utah prosperity model works best.
Gingrich argues that it’s much, much bigger than that; it isn’t a “turn-around” that’s needed, it’s reinvention. The economy needs powerful new locomotives to pull the freight, foreign policy needs to be “completely rethought,” the Blue Social Model is doomed and must be replaced by something that invigorates and expands all the human potential that is wasting away in bad schools, horrible social “programs,” dead-end jobs and doomed industries. Government and government policy, Gingrich argues, needs to be completely re-imagined. Like GE, he positions himself as “imagination at work.”
Can he close the sale? He need only win Iowa and New Hampshire and he’s the nominee. If Romney loses New Hampshire, the Romney campaign collapses in a heap.
How does Gingrich close the sale? First, he must acknowledge what he and the voters know: we wouldn’t vote for him under ordinary circumstances. It’s the moment that makes him and it’s the moment that matters.
Second, he must remain positive, both about the possibilities of the future and about his rivals. There is really only one positive argument that anyone can make about the global economy. It is that a very big locomotive is coming that will pull the economy forward and gather pace. That locomotive is science and technology; the genomics revolution turbo-charged by almost infinite computing power.
Gingrich, second-rate futurist that he is, is well-positioned to popularize this argument and sell it through. What else, after all, is one to believe? That financial services can pull the train? That GM can pull the train? That Facebook can pull the train? No one believes that.
Third, he must address concerns about his ability to govern by embracing his opponents. These people are my cabinet, or part of it, he might say. Vote for me and you get them in the bargain. I will put them to work.
Fourth, he needs to remind people that he is the only 2012 GOP presidential candidate who has ever moved the needle rightward at the national level. Rick Perry hasn't. Mitt Romney hasn't. Ron Paul hasn't. Rick Santorum hasn't. Only Gingrich has moved the nation rightward. That matters.
Finally, he must answer the tactical question of the election generously. For Republican caucus attenders and primary voters that question is: which candidate has the best chance of ending President Obama’s political career?
Gingrich can answer this question by saying: “on paper, it’s Romney. No question. He’s got all the attributes that you look for in a winner.” But, he might continue, the fact is that victory or defeat will be arrived at the same way it has been arrived at in 2011: through debate. You can’t defeat President Obama in a general election, if you don’t defeat him first in open debate. “I’m ready,” Gingrich might say, “to debate him every every Sunday night, from now until election day. Just the two of us, no moderators, two hours on a different topic over the course of 6 months. I think we win that debate.”
The truth is that only thing that stands between Newt Gingrich and the 2012 GOP presidential nomination right now is Newt Gingrich.
John Ellis is a contributing columnist to RealClearPolitics who lives in New York.