Thomas Sowell’s Tortured Logic on the Primary

Last week, Thomas Sowell issued another plea for conservatives to rally around Newt Gingrich. It was…questionable.
Rick Santorum has possibilities, but can he survive the media’s constant attempts to paint him as some kind of religious nut who would use the government to impose his views on others? And, if he can, will he also be able to go toe-to-toe with Obama in debates?

I would not bet the rent money on it. And what is at stake is far bigger than the rent money.
I have similar reservations about Santorum enabling the media to erect a false narrative about him that he won’t be able to overcome, but I think the debates have also shown that his policy chops and passion are more than adequate to mop the stage with Obama.
Mitt Romney is the kind of candidate that the Republican establishment has always looked for, a moderate who can appeal to independents. It doesn’t matter how many such candidates have turned out to be disasters on election night, going all the way back to Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.

Nor does it matter that the Republicans’ most successful candidate of the 20th century — Ronald Reagan, with two consecutive landslide victories at the polls — was nobody’s idea of a mushy moderate.

He stood for something. And he could explain what he stood for. These may sound like modest achievements, but they are very rare, especially among Republicans.
Yes, Reagan stood for something. Yes, there are real doubts about what Romney stands for. But it’s simply not true that Romney’s running as a moderate. He’s taken firm conservative stances on everything from taxes and entitlement reform to abortion and gay marriage to the border and Iran. While he might not make good on those promises once in office, the fact remains that he’s presenting as bold and uncompromising a contrast to Obama as any of the others. (And shouldn’t the “establishment”-baiting be beneath you, Mr. Sowell?)
Newt Gingrich is the only candidate still in the field who can clearly take on Barack Obama in one-on-one debate and cut through the Obama rhetoric and mystique with hard facts and plain logic.
True, Gingrich is easily the best debater in the field, and when he’s on his game, he can deliver almost Reaganesque levels of inspiration in his speeches. But there’s more to campaigning – and leading – than being good with words. Sowell seems to be betting that the general-election debates will be far more decisive than they’re actually likely to be.
Nor is this just a matter of having a gift of gab. Gingrich has a far deeper grasp of both the policies and the politics than the other Republican candidates.
Would that be the deep understanding of conservative politics that led Newt to back federal individual health insurance mandates, bailouts, federal stem-cell research funding, ethanol subsidies, “green conservatism,” Dede Scozzafava, amnesty for illegal immigrants, the creation and expansion of the Department of Education, the Bush prescription drug expansion, and the 1987 Pro-Fairness Doctrine, or to oppose Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform plan, or to flirt with Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, John Kerry, Al Sharpton, and Arne Duncan?
Does Gingrich have political “baggage”? More than you could carry on a commercial airliner.

Charges of opportunism have been among the most serious raised against the former Speaker of the House. But being President of the United States is the opportunity of a lifetime. If that doesn’t sober a man up, it is hard to imagine what would.
This is the line that was so maddening I had to write this post. It’s not even that Sowell’s hope of Gingrich sobering up is speculative; it’s that we don’t have to speculate on this point. Gingrich has been running for that opportunity of a lifetime, and it hasn’t sobered him up at all. Despite virtually all of the conservative movement fiercely condemning Gingrich’s dishonest attacks on Bain Capital, the man still has so little discipline that he couldn’t resist peppering his speech last night with derisive references to Wall Street. It hasn’t given him enough self-control to resist smearing Romney as a heartless bastard who starves Holocaust survivors – all the while lamenting how much he wishes he could stay positive. But I guess we’re supposed to just have faith that actually becoming president would sober Newt up, even though neither running for president nor being Speaker of the House seemed to do the trick.

Thomas Sowell is an excellent economist, and I doubt he would have much patience if one of his students used such shaky, evidence-free analysis in an economic paper. So why is it good enough for politics?

New at Live Action – Newt Gingirch Reminds America That the Media Covered for Barack Obama’s Baby Killing Past

My latest Live Action post:

Each presidential candidate had his ups and downs in last night’s CNN Republican debate, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had the evening’s most memorable moment. Moderator John King posed the following question:

Since “birth control” is the latest hot topic, which candidates believe in birth control and if not, why?

The audience’s raucous booing made clear they weren’t interested in the press’s latest talking point, and neither was Gingrich. He turned the tables beautifully:

I want to make two quick points, John. The first is there is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes. That’s legitimate. But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. So let’s be clear here. If we’re going to have a debate about who is the extremist on these issues, it is President Obama, who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion.

Right on cue, Naureen Khan of National Journal sprang into action to defend the president and the press:

According to Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization that looked into similar claims made by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on the campaign trail, Obama voiced his opposition to the new legislation as a state senator because it would have given legal status to fetuses and would thus have been struck down by the courts, and because Illinois already had laws to ensure infants who survived abortions would be given medical attention.

Not true…

Read the rest at Live Action. (I’ve previously examined Obama’s abortion extremism here, here, and here.)

New at American Thinker – Health Care: The Straw That Should Break Newtmania’s Back

Of all the arguments against nominating Mitt Romney for president, perhaps the strongest is that his enactment of RomneyCare and his refusal to disavow it could neutralize the Republicans’ ability to run against Barack Obama’s own intensely unpopular health care plan.  If Romney is the GOP standard-bearer, expect Democrats to play up the similarities and common ancestry of the two plans, challenging Romney to explain why one is a bipartisan success story and the other is an intolerable threat to our way of life.  It’s certainly a concern Republican primary voters must take seriously.
But the idea that Newt Gingrich would be preferable on that score is about as unserious as it gets.  The former speaker may be talking tough now on how “you can’t make the difference” between RomneyCare and ObamaCare and boasting that “I can ask [Congress] to repeal ObamaCare because I haven’t passed something which resembles it,” but the truth is that Gingrich is every bit as compromised on health care as Romney is — perhaps even more so.
You wouldn’t know it from his bluster on the stump, but Gingrich endorsed RomneyCare in 2006.  Despite some criticism of the bill’s imperfections, he “agree[d] entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans” and, to that end, called RomneyCare “the most exciting development of the past few weeks,” with “tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system.”
Read the rest at American Thinker.

For the Sake of the Conservative Movement, Romney Deragement Syndrome Has to Stop

The phenomenon of Romney Derangement Syndrome hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention during this election cycle, but it’s real. 
RedState.com has engaged in a smear campaign against Romney supporters and National Review for not being sufficiently anti-Mitt. Dan Riehl rants and raves about how conservatives should let Barack Obama win a second term if Romney is the nominee. Marco Rubio gives an awesome pro-life speech, and half the commenters at Hot Air can’t do anything but whine about Rubio being a phony because he’s too nice to Romney. Ann Coulter defends RomneyCare (in an admittedly flawed column that deserves a separate post), and Mark Levin can barely keep the contempt out of his ever-rising voice. Newt Gingrich engages in the most despicable distortions imaginable, and yet he’s still the victim in too many observers’ eyes. Jennifer Rubin is too sympathetic to Mitt for some, so she’s caricatured as a fraud and a joke.
People are whipping themselves into such a frenzy over Mitt Romney that they’re declaring friends enemies and deluding themselves into staying home on Election Day. (And many of them, incredibly, are doing it for a candidate who more effectively styles himself as a conservative, but substantively is no more conservative or outsider than Romney.)
Look, I get that Romney’s past is worrisome and his electability is problematic. I’m a Santorum guy. I get that the Republican Party needs to be taught a lesson. But now is not the time for an experiment in winning by losing. The stakes are too high.
The hope that a GOP defeat will finally shock the party into reforming itself is much, much too big an if to seriously weigh it against the damage Barack Obama would do in a second term. And I’m not even talking about the daily spending of money we don’t have, the continual erosion of liberty by unelected bureaucrats, or the burdensome regulations and tax increases (though all that alone would be enough to warrant replacing Obama with Romney).

Consider that his judicial appointments will further shape the American court system and shred the Constitution for decades beyond his presidency. Consider ObamaCare, most of which doesn’t take effect until 2013—if a new federal healthcare apparatus takes root, with brand-new entitlements Americans will be dependent on, it will be virtually impossible to dismantle. Consider that if the Left is allowed to import & regularize a permanent underclass through amnesty, before long these experts of voter fraud will have a brand-new pool of voters to ensure statist government for the rest of our lifetimes. Consider that an Obama who doesn’t have to worry about re-election will be more willing to consider any number of UN erosions of American sovereignty. Consider that Eric Holder will continue corrupting the Justice Department and persecuting states that try to crack down on vote fraud while allowing the fraud itself to go unpunished.

You mean to tell me stopping all that isn’t important enough to warrant holding your nose and voting for Mitt Romney? Really?

Besides, it hasn’t been that long since it was Mitt Romney who was the “conservative alternative” to John McCain (who we still managed to rally around), according to many of today’s RDS sufferers like Erick Erickson and Mark Levin, who told us that Romney shared our values and would uphold them in office. And as Ramesh Ponnuru writes:
He has not moved left since that time. His positions on policy questions are almost all the same as they were then. On a few issues he has moved right: He now favors a market-oriented reform to Medicare, for example. 
If Romney was to McCain’s right then, he is still. He’s to George W. Bush’s right, too. Bush never came out for the Medicare reform Romney has endorsed. Bush never said that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, either. Romney has.
Romney’s platform is solidly conservative on fiscal, social, and defense issues. Serious conservatives like John Bolton, Maggie Gallagher, John Willke, Robert Bork, and Jay Sekulow vouch for him. Supporting him won’t require us to sell our souls, but merely to hold him accountable to his promises afterward we oust Obama. He’s no Reagan, but he’s a step up from everyone we’ve run since then – John McCain, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, and George H.W. Bush.

Granted, maybe he’ll lose the election. Maybe he’ll be a disaster as president. I don’t know. But y’know what? Neither do Mark Levin, Michael Reagan, Sarah Palin, Erick Erickson, Jeffrey Lord, Dan Riehl, William Jacobson, John Hawkins, Thomas Sowell, Jeff Emanuel, or anyone else. Maybe he’ll destroy Obama and save the country from the brink of Armageddon. (And maybe, just maybe, the vote will be close enough that the RDS pouters like Riehl will be enough to cause Obama’s victory.) We simply won’t know unless we try.

Beyond 2012, this spectacle has revealed a deeper sickness within the conservative family. For all we’ve mocked liberals for the cult of personality they developed around Obama, too many of us have done the same. Too many (in most cases Perry and Gingrich backers) have rashly proclaimed their guy the Reaganite, the outsider, the true conservative savior, and therefore anyone not onboard (in most cases Romney backers) is either a pretender or a sellout, no matter how reasoned their argument or how genuine their past contributions to conservatism.

We shouldn’t be enemies. There’s no reason for us to be at each other’s throats. We’re all working to save our country, and we’re all just trying to weigh the relative strengths and weaknesses of three fallible men. Coming to different conclusions than one another about that is no sin, and can’t be allowed to divide us during such a critical turning point in our nation’s history.

New at Live Action – Newt Gingrich Tries to Paint Mitt Romney as an Enemy of Catholic Hospitals

My latest Live Action post:

What many have decried as an unusually nasty campaign got even nastier earlier this week, as Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich accused rival Mitt Romney of being insensitive to religious liberty and conscience rights:

“You want a war on the Catholic Church by Obama? Guess what: Romney refused to allow Catholic hospitals to have conscience in their dealing with certain circumstances,” Gingrich said, apparently referring to the handling of emergency contraception in universal health care laws.

But HotAir.com provides more context, revealing that the truth is more complex. In 2005, Romney actually did just the opposite: he vetoed a bill that would have forced Massachusetts hospitals to offer abortive contraception:

[T]his particular bill does not require parental consent even for young teenagers. It disregards not only the seriousness of abortion but the importance of parental involvement and so would weaken a protection I am committed to uphold.

Read the rest at Live Action.

Sarah Palin’s Credibility Is the Latest Casualty of Gingrich’s Campaign

I was so disgusted by Sarah Palin’s Facebook note pushing the Big Lie that Newt Gingrich is a conservative outsider persecuted by a malevolent Republican “Establishment” that I’ve been considering taking the time to write a response. Fortunately, Jonathan Tobin at Commentary saved me the trouble by penning a concise explanation of just how badly Palin mangled the truth:
She claimed former Reagan administration officials who noted this week Gingrich was anything but a loyal soldier of the 40th president were engaged in a “Stalin-esque rewriting of history.” This is not merely nonsensical, it is illustrative of the defects in her own character and intellect that have led many of us who once cheered her rise to conclude that she has no business ever putting herself forward for high office again.
While Gingrich supported Reagan and Mitt Romney did not, those who pointed out the former speaker’s often petulant and negative comments about the leader of his movement were merely illuminating a little-known aspect of the truth, not “re-writing” it. For Palin to use that over-the-top rhetoric — in effect comparing someone like Elliott Abrams to a communist monster — is contemptible. For her to go on in the same piece to say Gingrich’s critics were employing “Alinsky tactics at their worst” shows again she understands little about either Saul Alinsky’s writings or history.
While Palin and Gingrich have little in common, the one characteristic they do share is hypocrisy. In her posting, Palin claims Mitt Romney needs to be “vetted” more thoroughly because Democrats will attack him in the fall. Yet she considers any attempt to give the same attention to Gingrich, a man with a freight train’s worth of damaging personal and political baggage that renders him unlikely to win a general election, to be above such concerns.
Go read the whole thing. If you’re still on the fence about Palin, consider three more salient points. First, Palin wasn’t troubled by Republicans using left-wing tactics when Gingrich and Rick Perry were leveling their class-warfare smears at Bain Capital: she dismissed those as the routine “rough and tumble” of politics and falsely claimed that Perry was merely questioning Mitt Romney’s job-creation claims. Second, David Swindle notes that Gingrich says he’d put Palin in his administration, which just might be relevant to her Newt endorsement-in-everything-but-name. Third, if she’s so concerned about Republicans using “Alinsky tactics at their worse,” then perhaps she should read Phillip Klein’s piece on Gingrich’s own cribbing from Saul’s playbook.
I’ve written a lot on Sarah Palin’s behalf over the years, most of which I still stand by, since she was the victim of many specific false charges that nobody should be subjected to. But in light of her latest attacks on whoever won’t fall in line behind Gingrich, it must be conceded that she is first and foremost a populist opportunist, not a principled leader of true grassroots conservatism. Her actions have confirmed the pattern that she began in endorsing Rand Paul in the 2010 Kentucky primary: making decisions based not an a careful reading of candidates’ merits, but on a completely superficial assessment of who insists “I’m an outsider!” the hardest. I can’t sum it up better than Tobin:
Palin, who seems far more interested in burnishing her image than actually helping her party, manages to keep her name in the news every now and then with statements such as this one. But her problem is the more she talks, the more she reminds us why she has doomed herself to the margins of political discourse.

In Which a Newt Gingrich Apologist Transcends Self-Parody

Ann Coulter had it exactly right yesterday when she took aim at the way Gingrich’s apologists have, almost overnight, emptied the word “Establishment” of nearly all meaning. The most preposterous example to date has to come from noted hack Erick Erickson in this Twitter exchange. In response to someone else’s (manifestly false) claim that “all the GOP insider[s] who bash Newt chose Crist over Rubio,” Erickson replied, “And supported Harriet Miers.”
You can probably see the punchline coming from a mile away. Guess who else supported Harriet Miers?
If your answer was “Newt Gingrich,” give yourself a hand.
So we now live in a world where “true conservatives” must circle the wagons around Newt Gingrich to stand up to undefined “elites” who are evil because they do things like agree with Newt Gingrich on Supreme Court nominees.

It’s insanity like this that makes me question why I ever bothered to get a degree in Politics.