Newt Gingrich Wins South Carolina, Republican Race In (Temporary) Chaos

Last night, South Carolina was Gingrich Country.

As I noted yesterday morning, it was apparently by the end of the week that Newt Gingrich was going to win the South Carolina primary. Two debate performances that played well with the Republican base, including one that included the kind of attack on the media that conservatives love, along with a week of rather surprising mis-steps by the Romney campaign, meant that the wind was at Gingrich’s back. There were some doubts during the day, though. The weather in many parts of the Palmetto State was more severe than had been originally forecast, including Tornado Watches and Warnings in several parts of the state, and it was unclear how that would impact turnout in the heavily evangelical parts of the state where Gingrich was believed to be strong. In the end, though, it wasn’t even a contest:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Surprising his rivals and scrambling the Republican race for the presidency, Newt Gingrich won the pivotal South Carolina primary Saturday, just 10 days after a distant finish in New Hampshire left the impression that his candidacy was all but dead.

It was a striking development in a months-long Republican nominating contest that has seen the restive base of conservative voters ping-pong among the alternatives to the party establishment’s favorite, Mitt Romney.

With late-night tallies showing Mr. Gingrich beating Mr. Romney by 12 percentage points, it was no small win. Exit polls showed Mr. Gingrich had done it with a formidable coalition of groups that have resisted Mr. Romney’s candidacy all election season long: evangelical Christians, Tea Party supporters and those who call themselves “very conservative.”

Mr. Gingrich now heads to Florida, where he faces a daunting test in seeking to capitalize on his new status as the candidate who poses a singular, insurgent threat to Mr. Romney. He used his victory speech to cast himself as the champion of the party’s anti-establishment wing, reprising his popular castigation of the news media and other “elites” while keeping his focus on the defeat of President Obama.

Standing beside his wife, Callista, as he addressed an exuberant crowd in Columbia, Mr. Gingrich attributed his victory to “something very fundamental that I wish the powers that be in the news media will take seriously: The American people feel that they have elites who have been trying for a half-century to force us to quit being American and become some kind of other system.”

Complimenting the other candidates, he repeated his criticism of Mr. Obama as the best “food stamp president” in history, saying he, by contrast, would be the “best paycheck president.”

The crowd greeted Mr. Gingrich with chants of “Newt can win,” their answer to the party establishment’s doubts about his ability to ultimately defeat Mr. Romney.

But for a night, at least, there was no arguing with the results.

Just 10 days before, Mr. Romney left New Hampshire as the presumed front-runner. He now moves on to the next fight claiming just one of the first three nominating contests, having been stripped last week of his incorrectly declared victory in the Iowa caucuses. That win was instead given to Rick Santorum, who placed third in South Carolina on Saturday.

“This race is getting to be even more interesting,” Mr. Romney, with circles under his eyes and an unfamiliar pallor after days of hard campaigning here, told his supporters in Columbia. “This is a hard fight because there is so much worth fighting for. We’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

But Mr. Romney still has a considerable advantage over Mr. Gingrich when it comes to money and organization, both of which will be vital in the expensive campaign state of Florida, which has its primary on Jan. 31. And Florida is different political terrain from South Carolina, where Mr. Gingrich had cultivated the Tea Party movement’s leaders since its start.

Mr. Romney and the “super PAC” supporting him have been advertising heavily in Florida for weeks, including on Spanish-language television. An analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG shows that Mr. Romney has spent at least $4 million on advertising there.

Mr. Romney’s team was expected to come into the state trumpeting major endorsements and reasserting his status as a favorite of the biggest names in Republican politics. But his hopes of landing the coveted endorsement of former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida were dashed when Mr. Bush said he would not make an endorsement. He told Bloomberg News that Mr. Romney, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum had all sought his support.

He called on the candidates to leave the “circular firing squad” of their rivalry and make sure that the tone of their debate did not alienate independent voters, especially on immigration. And Mr. Romney should release his tax returns while competing in Florida, Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Gingrich and his supportive super PAC — which pounded Mr. Romney here relentlessly — have not advertised in Florida yet, though Mr. Gingrich has visited the state often. On one visit last week, he told Floridians that his plan was to win in South Carolina and then compete strongly there. It seemed unlikely then.

Mr. Gingrich seized on his South Carolina victory less than an hour after the polls closed.

“Thank you South Carolina!  Help me deliver the knockout punch in Florida. Join our Moneybomb and donate now,” he wrote on his Twitter feed. His campaign placed a large ad on the Web site the Drudge Report, popular among conservatives, seeking donations as well.

Here’s how the numbers look with 100% of precincts reporting:

  • Newt Gingrich — 243,143 votes (40.4%)
  • Mitt Romney — 167,279 votes (27.8%)
  • Rick Santorum — 102,055 votes (17%)
  • Ron Paul — 77,993 (13%)
  • Others — 10,473 (1.8%)

This was a far more extensive victory for Gingrich than I was expecting, and Santorum’s leap into third place over Ron Paul was an unexpectedly good showing from a candidate who seemed to be fading during the same week he was finally told that he’d won the Iowa Caucuses. Indeed, if you look at the map at the above-link, you’ll see that Gingrich won every single county in the state except for those around Columbia and the coastal areas from Charleston down to Hilton Head Island. This means he picked up large swaths of the state won by John McCain in 2008 as well as those one by Mike Huckabee that year. It was a decisive and surprising win by a candidate who had limped into South Carolina down in the polls and with his December rise in the polls seemingly at an end.  Considering the amount of negative feedback that Gingrich had gotten from his initial efforts to make an issue of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital, one would not have been unwarranted in thinking that the race was almost over. Once you take a look at the exit polls, though, it’s clear what happened. People who made up their minds in the two days prior to the primary broke for Gingrich. Moreover, two-thirds of the exit poll respondents said that the debates were important in helping them make up their minds.

As Byron York notes, though, the debates weren’t the only reason that Gingrich not only won last night, but won handily:

In the next few days, there will be plenty of analysis attributing Gingrich’s victory to other factors: his commanding performances in debate, his next-door advantage in South Carolina, and Romney’s now-traditional difficulties in the state.  But after all the talk of ground game and debate war, there’s a simpler reason Gingrich won: On the stump, in town hall after town hall, across South Carolina, Gingrich has been a markedly better campaigner than Romney.

Romney stages perfect events.  For example, on the eve of the primary, Romney’s rally in North Charleston was perfect from a production point of view: stage just right, big flags, big Romney signs, smooth introductions from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, all topped off by a showy entrance by Romney, who arrived in his big campaign bus that drove right into the room.

It was perfect in every sense but engaging with the voters.  Romney’s stump speech was a clipped — some would say dumbed down — list of generalities, concluding with this: “I love this land, I love its Constitution, I revere its founders, I will restore those principles, I will get America back to work, and I’ll make sure that we remain the shining city on the hill.”  Romney offered his supporters very little to chew on.  In this primary race, voters are hungry for substance, and Romney didn’t give them much.

Gingrich’s last event before the voting, a couple of hours later, was a rally on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a floating museum across the bay from Charleston.  It was a most un-perfect affair.  To begin with, it just so happened that dozens of Cub Scouts were having an overnight on the Yorktown at the same time as Gingrich and the press showed up for the rally.  Their presence contributed to an air of happy chaos on board, and Gingrich was delighted to invite a few scouts on stage with him at the beginning of his speech.  When Gingrich got to the substance of his remarks, he was wandering, expansive, and detailed, where Romney had been brief and canned.  But Gingrich kept the crowd with him the whole way, and in the end had engaged his audience more than Romney could have hoped for.  Gingrich respected them enough to discuss issues with them seriously.

(…)

Gingrich’s success here in South Carolina shows more than just a skepticism toward establishment Republicanism.  It also shows a hunger for real substance in the campaign, for a candidate who will talk to voters and give them more than phrases like “I believe in America.”  Mitt Romney’s team of seasoned campaign professionals may not think Newt Gingrich has any business playing a deciding role in the race.  But they better believe it, and they better take seriously what the Gingrich challenge represents — before it’s too late.

For better or for worse, Gingrich succeeded in South Carolina because the voters sensed that he was providing the substance that Romney lacked, and because he did a better job connecting with them. That last part will be attributed by many to Romney’s wealth and his seemingly patrician lifestyle, and it’s not necessarily a fatal flaw. After all, both George H.W. Bush won the White House despite having very little in common with the average vote and candidates like Al Gore and John Kerry won their party’s nomination despite suffering from the same problem. The other problem, though, will require Romney to re-tool himself somehow. Having watched a few Romney stump speeches these past several months, I can say that he’s clearly capable of bringing substance, but it seems like he utterly failed to do so in South Carolina. Was it because the campaign got knocked off its game after the tax return became an issue? Well, to the extent that’s the reason, they just need to release the tax returns and get that issue behind them.

The big question, of course, is what this means for the race going forward. Right now, Romney holds a commanding lead in Florida and, with early voting well underway (some counties have had early voting open since last Monday) one can assume that he is benefiting from what everyone concedes is the superior ground operation in the state.  The problem for Romney is that the most recent public poll in the Sunshine State was taken five days ago, when his meltdown in South Carolina was just beginning. While one can assume that the campaigns are going their own internal polling, we’ve got indication right now of just how badly, if at all, events in the Palmetto State have effective Romney’s position in what will be the biggest contest to date. It’s entirely possible that the gap between Gingrich and Romney is far narrower now, and with Gingrich just starting to campaign in the state, we’re clearly in for an intense nine days.

Of course, Gingrich faces big hurdles in repeating his South Carolina success in Florida. From north to south, the state has some of the most expensive media markets in the country and, absent massive ad buys from the pro-Gingrich SuperPAC it’s not clear that Newt will be able to compete with Romney on the airwaves. Furthermore. it’s not going to be nearly as easy for his campaign to do the kind of barnstorming campaign in Florida that he did in South Carolina, both because Florida is such a larger state geographically and because there are so many more people. To put in perspective, it’s likely that by the time the counting is over in Florida more people will have voted via absentee or early voting alone than voted in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina combined. This is the first big test of the race, and despite all of his flaws it still looks like a state that is more suited to Mitt Romney than Newt Gingrich. Moreover, Romney is helped at least marginally by the fact that Rick Santorum is staying in the race and will likely continue to draw at least of the some evangelical/social conservative vote away from Gingrich.

At the very least, last night’s results means that this race will not end in Florida as the 2008 race effectively did. So far, we’ve had a different winner in each of the first three contests, something that’s never happened in a Republican race before and even if Romney wins decisively next Tuesday, Newt Gingrich at the very least is likely to stay in the race for the foreseeable future. Florida doesn’t have many big contests, but the three that will draw the most media attention are very favorable to Romney. Nevada’s caucus on the 4th of February is widely expected to be a win for Florida due at least in part to the heavy Mormon population in the state. At the end of the month we have primaries in Romney’s home state of Michigan, and in Arizona, which also has a significant Mormon population. Gingrich may be able to put up a fight in Arizona, but one would think that February 28th will be a good day for Romney as well. That takes us to Super Tuesday where both Romney and Gingrich have home state advantages in Massachusetts and Georgia respectively, but where the biggest prize will be Ohio (Romney, of course, will win Virginia where Gingrich isn’t even on the ballot).

How Super Tuesday pans out will depend on how much longer the race lasts, but I honestly cannot see Gingrich giving this race up easily, at least not as long as there’s money available for his campaign and the SuperPAC. My initial thought this morning, though, is that this race is likely to go deep into April unless Romney manages to put Gingrich down quickly and decisively by the Illinois Primary on March 20th. Whether Gingrich’s continued presence in the race will be good for the GOP or not is an open question.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Liberal Capitalist says:

    … there is not enough popcorn in the WORLD for these GOP primaries !!!

  2. Hey Norm says:

    It amuses me that a 99% white, largely racist (see confederate flag controversy) electorate just helped re-elect a black President that they hate.
    America rocks!!!

  3. James says:

    Whether Gingrich’s continued presence in the race will be good for the GOP or not is an open question

    Oh, I don’t think there will be much of a question.

  4. I don’t agree at all that Gingrich provided “more substance.” Unless that was a bad choice of words?

    A few days ago I said that “conservatives want to go down fighting in 2012. It isn’t at all that they think Newt will win. They expect him to lose angry, and they’re on board with that.”

    I see this morning that Eric Erickson makes a somewhat similar call:

    People are mad as hell they are about to be stuck with another boring, moderate, uninspiring choice that has at best a 50/50 shot at losing to the worst president since Carter. They are flocking to Newt not because they think he’s a great guy, but because right now, he’s the only one fighting for conservatism and GOP voters are looking for a vessel to channel their anger with Obama and their complete disappointment with the GOP establishment which is now embodied perfectly by Romney. They want a conservative fighter because most conservatives look back at Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and McCain and see only the ones taking a conservative path against the Democrats actually winning.

    The places where I don’t get Erickson are (1) the idea that spoiler Republicans in congress were not following their base’s wishes, and of course (2) that hard right course can win.

    I guess while he gets the anger part, he holds some desperate hope that the hard right can be a majority after all … something 2012 polls are not showing, with declining GOP registration and all.

  5. So in summary, I stand by my earlier assessment. These primary voters aren’t so dumb that they think Newt can win. They just want to lose angry.

    Erickson even says:

    Newt has taken the worst the media, Romney and the left can dish out, and he’s still standing and fighting with passion and eloquence. Sure, he’d probably be an erratic President, but right now Republican voters don’t care about his Presidency. They care about the fight with the left both Mitt Romney, and the Washington Republican leaders like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don’t seem inclined to engage in.

    They aren’t thinking about an actual Gingrich Presidency.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Whether Gingrich’s continued presence in the race will be good for the GOP or not is an open question.

    One Hell of a book tour…..

  7. (Intrade is valuing Gingrich’s ultimate odds at 10% right now. Obama 54.7% Romney 30.5%)

  8. I’m calling it. The Republicans will remain in a “not-Romney” turmoil right on through the election (regardless of whether they end up nominating him). They’ll hand Obama the election, and lose angry.

  9. John,

    It’s really a matter of what the voters perceive, not what you or I think about whether Gingrich is actually more substantive than Romney. I think Erickson has part of the answer, but then its best to remember as always that Erickson has an agenda in everything he writes.

  10. @Doug Mataconis:

    I didn’t make that up. I listened to interviews on why people were switching to Gingrich.

    What they said repeatedly was that they liked the way Gingrich could take it back at the press, or at his opponents. They said this, without at all endorsing his underlying behavior.

    Think about the wife thing. No one, not even usual suspects here, can say that they admire Gingrich in his personal behavior. That goes for wives and Freddie Mac lobbying, actually.

    They just like him angry. That’s what’s connecting.

  11. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    For Gingrich and especially for Romney yesterday’s primary was the perfect storm. A Saturday contest in a state with perhaps the worst demographic breakdown for a GOP primary anywhere in the country: a collection of Bible bots, bored housewives and extreme, frothing-at-the-mouth conservatives.

    Once the contest moves to the higher-population states with more temperate demographics, however, Gingrich’s candidacy will be over, but the damage already will be done. For every additional week during which the focus is on Gingrich there will be additional votes for Obama in the Nov. general election.

  12. I mean, think about the Freddie/Fannie thing for just a moment.

    For the last 10 years it has been a mainstay on the right, and here at OTB, that Freddie/Fannie must die(*), and that their ability to lobby government was the worst sort of institutionalized crony capitalism.

    So now a Freddie/Fannie lobbyist is a go-to guy for “real” conservatives?

    No way this is a rational thing. It is emotion, they are connecting to that stubborn (and crazy) part of Newt that doesn’t have to be right to be sure.

    * – I agree with the moderate line that they be phased out.

  13. @Tsar Nicholas II:

    I think the black swan is that it continues. Well, no longer a black swan because we just saw it.

    Your “South Carolina one-off” storyline was really written before last night. And it made sense … with a Gingrich squeaker. Not so much with a Gingrich rout.

  14. @Hey Norm:

    Nice way to smear an entire state there

  15. James says:

    @john personna:

    They’ll hand Obama the election, and lose angry.

    I don’t disagree. But, where conservatives ever going to lose managmiously in this cycle?

  16. sam says:

    Shorter Byron York:

    Candidate Uptight outmaneuvered by Candidate Not-Wrapped-Too-Tight

  17. @john personna:

    I don’t think that Erickson and York are really saying very different things, actually.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I think Erickson has part of the answer, but then its best to remember as always that Erickson has an agenda in everything he writes.

    (my emphasis)

    Isn’t that why he writes? Isn’t that why anyone writes? If I didn’t have an agenda, I wouldn’t bother. And neither would you Doug.

  19. @Doug Mataconis:

    Perhaps their thinking is incomplete. They talk about a hunger, but don’t really process what happens if “conservative substance” doesn’t show its face.

    You also talk about “(Temporary)” chaos.

    So .. where do you, Erickson and York think this substance is going to come from?

    Because if it doesn’t show, we’ll have what I called above … a continued and unsatisfied “not-Romeny turmoil.”

  20. (Or conversely, how long will you wait for everyone to settle down and love Romney?)

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @Hey Norm:

    President Obama was doing to be re-elected no matter what. The only question is whether the Democrats retain control of the Senate and regain control of the House.

    The Republicans are on the pathway to irrelevance. Those who are voting for idiots like Gingrich are just making it happen faster.

  22. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Nice way to smear an entire state there

    Perhaps but pretty accurate.

  23. NBH says:

    Nevada’s caucus on the 4th of February is widely expected to be a win for Florida due at least in part to the heavy Mormon population in the state.

    I assume that’s supposed to be “a win for Romney”, not “a win for Florida”.

    Now the interesting question seems to be, will the not-Romney money consolidate behind Gingrich? That a terrible, vanity candidate like Gingrich has become a contender is comical. I don’t know whether to think it’s an example of how uninspiring a candidate Romney is, or how divorced from reality the GOP base is. Maybe I should just assume both.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @NBH:

    I don’t know whether to think it’s an example of how uninspiring a candidate Romney is, or how divorced from reality the GOP base is. Maybe I should just assume both.

    Yeah, both.

  25. PJ says:

    Nate Silver tweet:

    Sign of the apocalypse: American Research Group had the most accurate poll of South Carolina.

    ARG’s last poll had Gingrich winning (40-26), and the result was (40.4-27.8).

  26. michael reynolds says:

    We’re watching a party suffer a nervous breakdown.

  27. NBH says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We’re watching a party suffer a nervous breakdown.

    Suffering a psychotic episode would seem to be a better description when embracing the pompous, angry rhetoric of Gingrich.

  28. Peacewood says:

    @michael reynolds: Not sure we’re there yet. A nervous Tic, perhaps.

    Breakdown if Gingrich takes Florida, tho, for sure.

  29. MBunge says:

    NEEEEWWWWWT!

    And would someone explain to me how Newt is more of a “vanity” candidate than Romney, who gives every indication he’s only running for President because he thinks it’ll look good in his obituary?

    Mike

  30. grumpy realist says:

    Maybe we’re just waiting to see whatever is on Callista’s head jump off and bite someone.

  31. Ron Beasley says:

    I suspect this is the high point for Gingrich. Probably more than any other state South Carolina is still fighting the Civil War and the Gingrich style of dog whistle politics was very effective.

  32. If the Republicans do end up picking Gingrich, they will at least finally reach their goal of recreating Reagan’s election. Only downside is that apparently they’re going to do it by backing the Republican version of Water Mondale.

  33. Eric Florack says:

    So, Norm… the only way one can be conservative is to be a white racist?
    Funny thing; Black conservatives… the fastest growing sub-group of conservatives, might take issue with you.

    @ Persona:

    What they said repeatedly was that they liked the way Gingrich could take it back at the press, or at his opponents. They said this, without at all endorsing his underlying behavior.

    The exit polls bear this out as well. And it’s what I’ve been saying for months, now.

    those cheers that you’re hearing both on the video in question…(the debates)… and from around the country right now are not because confrontation was avoided, but because Gingrich had the actual stones to go after bias when he found it. Not timidly, not in a tone of false friendship, but with both barrels.

    I was sitting in a rest area outside Ulster, New York during that debate, putting together some rough notes for the Ramble that night. I can tell you there was a lot of cheering going on… with many happily saying “It’s about time”.

    The path to victory is not being timid. The path to victory does not involve the canine courtesies as prescribed by the supposedly mainstream media, and the establishment GOP’s consultants. The path to victory is going after lies where they are found, with both barrels.

    I tell you now that the GOP establishment ignores this message to their peril.

  34. @Eric Florack:

    The path to victory is going after lies where they are found, with both barrels.

    So you mean Newt was really a “historian?”

  35. Eric Florack says:

    So you mean Newt was really a “historian?”

    What would be your list of qualifications for the title?

  36. James says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Not timidly, not in a tone of false friendship, but with both barrels.

    Who cares what anyone says, as long as they reconfirm my prejudices in the most strident manner possible.

  37. @Eric Florack:

    Don’t dodge. You know what’s going on here. Newt was a crony capitalist. He was a beneficiary of the revolving door. When he left congress, he started taking checks from complete foes to market capitalism. And now you let him ride on a lie, that he wasn’t doing the obvious at all.

    All this while you say Newt is about taking on lies.

    Well, obviously there are lies you want him to face, and lies of his own where you’ll give him a pass.

  38. Fiona says:

    Newt’s whole candidacy is based on anger and resentment, not substance. He got brownie points from angry older white folks for putting Juan Williams “in his place” and ripping John King a new one because they need a scapegoat and an easy explanation for why their vision of America is quickly fading. Although Newt presents himself as the next Reagan, he is far more of an anti-Reagan. Reagan ran on optimism and an overall positive vision of and for the country (whether one agreed with it or not). Newt is running as a culture warrior, intent on exploiting the divisions in the country for his own political gain. What, pray tell, is his vision? What does he offer other than a few grandiose ideas and a simmering cauldron of victimhood? I just don’t see it. He may win the nomination, but I can’t see him beating Obama.

  39. Rob in CT says:

    The GOP base’s ID just checked in and confirmed what John said above: this is not a rational thing. It’s emotion.

    And that emotion is anger.

    This is a primal scream.

  40. mike says:

    yet another reminder about why I am no longer a republican. I can’t wait for Newt’s next speech on family values.

  41. Rob in CT says:

    But please please please nominate Newt.

    Do it.

    Please go full wingnut.

  42. Eric Florack says:

    Don’t dodge. You know what’s going on here.

    Answer the question, John. What is a historian, in your view? Are there qualifications for the title? If you can’t answer this one, your attack is a weak one at the off.

  43. michael reynolds says:

    The path to victory is nominating a guy who has 1) 100% name recognition and 2) a gap between his positives and negatives of 30%. 60% dislike. Yep. Go with that.

  44. @Eric Florack:

    OK, a true historian is a guy who stays in a room with books. He reads books, he writes books.

    He sure as shit isn’t worth a million dollars to any quasi-government agency.

    If they want him, he’ll write for free, or attend a conference for a $500 stipend.

  45. steve says:

    I kind of hope Newt wins. I like the idea of having a First Lady who knows how to help Congressmen relieve stress. All those Congressmen who are working so hard because of the passion they hold for their country can have their stress relieved right in their offices. Callista could run a team of interns, training them and managing them for stress relief. Congress will become much more productive.

    Steve

  46. Eric Florack says:

    OK, a true historian is a guy who stays in a room with books. He reads books, he writes book

    Newt’s done that. An avid reader, (and reviewer, if memory serves) and he’s also written several.

    He sure as shit isn’t worth a million dollars to any quasi-government agency.

    I suppose that depends on what else he’s done. Or are you suggesting that a real historian can only do that one thing?

    If they want him, he’ll write for free, or attend a conference for a $500 stipend.

    I commend to you the name of David McCullough, for one.

    Do try again.

  47. @Eric Florack:

    Well, I guess this is your game plan. You’ll take a false position, and then just hunker down. You’ll think that a stubborn lie is somehow … good.

    And for you, yeah, I can see Gingrich as your guy.

  48. PogueMahone says:

    @Eric Florack: “… the only way one can be conservative is to be a white racist?”

    No, but if you are a white racist, then you are more likely a conservative Republican.

    The path to victory is going after lies where they are found, with both barrels.

    What lies, Bithead? John King was lying when he stated that Newt’s ex-wife was accusing him of wanting an open marriage???
    Well, I’ll be damned. My ears and eyes were lying to me – but Newt and Bithead are telling the truth. ;-/

  49. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “Newt was a crony capitalist.”

    Whoever lost their job because of business decision by Newt? Who pays a higher tax rate, Newt or Romney? And perhaps most importantly of all, who’s been fighting to defend conservativism most of his adult life and who decided he was a conservative at the exact same moment he decided to run for President?

    Mike

  50. Eric Florack says:

    Well, I guess this is your game plan. You’ll take a false position, and then just hunker down. You’ll think that a stubborn lie is somehow … good.

    So in other words, your argument was indeed weak… as is your thought process, since you failed to come up with anything better.

    You may take another shot at this at any time.

  51. @Eric Florack:

    Newt Gingrich, who has built his now resurgent presidential candidacy in part around virulent criticism of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, found himself Wednesday defending the at least $1.6 million he reportedly earned while under contract to Freddie.

    I mean there’s now way you can actually believe that is the going rate for historians.

  52. @Eric Florack:

    Dude, your argument is “yes, I am that stupid.”

    Roll in it.

  53. mattb says:

    Looking at the Exit-Polling via Fox News, there’s some interesting data buried towards the bottom — namely that as religiosity goes up, support for Romney quickly drops across all categories. Ditto on abortion — the more people supported making abortion illegal (and saw this as a key issue) the more that they would support Gingrich.

    The question remains if this has something to do with “Mormon-ness” or a general cross over with conservative voting.

    What seems a bit ironic, is that among voters who are primarily concerned about the moral character of their candidate , the numbers reverse with Romney seen as far more moral (though ranking far below both Santorum and Paul).

  54. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I’m not the guy you were responding to, but I should add that I – and I suspect most voters – find your argument regarding Newt and his history as a lobbyist to be rather unpersuasive. The idea that F/F shelled out over a million dollars to a ‘historian’ is ridiculous.

    Why would they do such a thing? What was their motivation for spending so much money? What results did they get from his work? I doubt you could provide any answer which made any sense at all.

    Apply Occam’s razor to the problem and you’ll quickly realize that the far more likely account is the one in which rich, well-connected Republican insiders are being paid for their access and persuasive abilities with other Republicans – not some nebulous ‘historical review’ that was done for them.

    As an above poster said though – as a committed Obama supporter, I don’t believe God could show his love for me in any greater fashion than to somehow ensure Newt gets the nomination. That will result in the Dems once again running the House, Senate and WH, as his campaign will be disastrous and Obama will fillet the man in any verbal confrontation they engage in. The current support for Newt seems to be based in an emotional response amongst a GOP base who is frustrated with their inability to destroy the man to date – and combined with an inability to face themselves and reveal the true sources of their antipathy for him.

  55. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…
    I didn’t smear an entire state. I smeared the Republican electorate.

  56. Eric Florack says:

    What lies, Bithead? John King was lying when he stated that Newt’s ex-wife was accusing him of wanting an open marriage???

    That would be a start.
    And are you really about allowing the same press that carry bill Clinton’s water for the better part of a decade to be your moral arbiter?

    As I said elsewhere, that was a bit of old news. It was brought up specifically for the purpose of trying to take Gingrich out. It didn’t find any traction the first time around, and it certainly didn’t find any this time, either.

    Who cares what anyone says, as long as they reconfirm my prejudices in the most strident manner possible.

    there’s nobody on the planet that should be surprised that a republican who is a proud competent and confident articulator of conservative principles is going to be at the top or near the top in the polling for the nomination.

    Perhaps your objection is that Gringrich is doing precisely that, an doing a better job than Romney?

  57. Eric Florack says:

    I’m not the guy you were responding to, but I should add that I – and I suspect most voters – find your argument regarding Newt and his history as a lobbyist to be rather unpersuasive. The idea that F/F shelled out over a million dollars to a ‘historian’ is ridiculous.

    “I offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do,” he replied. “My advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, ‘We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do.’ As I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.”

  58. mattb says:

    Also buried in the numbers, is SC newt supporters are all but split on (a) doing anything to increase jobs even if it means temporarily growing the budget deficit (37%) and (b) doing anything to decrease the budget deficit even if it means losing jobs (41%).

    Romney and Santorum voters both come down on the side of (a), though the size of the split is pretty similar.

    At least in SC, it seems like the Republican party is pretty divided over this issue far more than the talking heads might lead one to believe.

  59. Eric Florack says:

    @Hey Norm:

    I didn’t smear an entire state. I smeared the Republican electorate.

    So, only the vast majority of the state.,
    Ah, that’s much better.

    Race baiter.

  60. Eric Florack says:

    The question remains if this has something to do with “Mormon-ness” or a general cross over with conservative voting.

    No, it’s Romney’s record on these issues. I’ve posted that record in some detail here in the past.

  61. anjin-san says:

    a republican who is a proud competent and confident articulator of conservative principles

    How exactly did he champion those principles? By going around DC carrying a sign saying “Will be Fannies bitch for $$$”?

    By practicing “family values”? God does not mind you banging your secretary on the desk while your wife is in the hospital/there’s no wife like a trophy wife…

  62. MBunge says:

    @Cycloptichorn: “The idea that F/F shelled out over a million dollars to a ‘historian’ is ridiculous. Why would they do such a thing?”

    The answer is simple. Newt scammed them. They thought they were buying him as a de facto lobbyist but Newt never followed through.

    Mike

  63. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:
    The only Christian issue directly referenced in the exit survey was Abortion.

    Or… put differently, what other issues are key for the Christian Religious voting block? You don’t need to sum up Romney’s positions, I’m more curious what issues you are referring to.

  64. @MBunge:

    Whoever lost their job because of business decision by Newt? Who pays a higher tax rate, Newt or Romney? And perhaps most importantly of all, who’s been fighting to defend conservativism most of his adult life and who decided he was a conservative at the exact same moment he decided to run for President?

    I guess the time shilling for Freddie wasn’t in the “most” part of his adult life?

    Come on. If you are going to be true to YOUR principles, find a candidate who is for reals.

    We aren’t attacking Newt because he isn’t moderate or liberal enough. We’re pointing out that he is “liberal”, and in the worst way.

    You’ve got a shill for Freddie Mac, and you think he’s a free marketeer.

  65. @MBunge:

    That sir, is an argument from missing data. You don’t actually know what Newt did. You haven’t seen his emails, or heard what he said to then-serving congressmen.

    You just make crap up because Newt asks you to.

  66. (Not to mention, MBuinge, you just said Newt stole from a government backed institution. High morality there dude.)

  67. steve says:

    ” It didn’t find any traction the first time around, and it certainly didn’t find any this time, either.”

    Of course not, moral character is not an issue anymore for Gingrich supporters. He ducks the Vietnam war, unlike Paul, cheats on his wives (plural), works as a lobbyist for the GSEs and health care groups (strong advocate for Medicare Part D, the largest unfunded spending bill in our history), and is now running as the victimized, outsider. Morally bankrupt and running on anger. A president for, at best, half of the country.

    Steve

  68. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Funny thing; Black conservatives… the fastest growing sub-group of conservatives, might take issue with you.

    Given that, according to, exit polling at fox, 98% of polled SC primary voters were white, (a) any growth in the black community would represent “fast growth” as there’s not much room for white expansions and (b) black conservatives have a long way to go before they have any real influence in terms of the vote.

  69. Jib says:

    From a poly sci perspective, this is interesting experiment. From a historic perspective, Gingrich does not have the campaign staff to compete in a national campaign. Romney and Paul do. But maybe that does not matter in the age of the internet? We have been saying for years that you can mobilize quickly using the internet and we certainly saw how quickly both the TP and OWS got going. It will be interesting.

    The republican party is breaking up. Specifically the Reagan coalition is. Culturally, there are a bunch on aging boomers who grew up fighting those damn hippies and they can not go to the dems. Same for the religious conservatives, they are stuck on the right. So those 2 groups break it down from within. Everyone who does not so much invested in being a republican is leaving.

    Nate Silver showed this in the 2010 election. The demographics of republicans did not change between 2008 and 2010, it remained white, old, and religious. What changed is that the dems did not show up and the repubs showed up in spades.

    Gingrich is a mad man but because he will mobilize the base he actually has a better chance of winning than Romney. He also has a higher chance of getting routed than Romney.

    Romney is defense, keep the game close, see if you cant catch a break in the economy or somewhere and pull the win out in the end.

    Gingrich is all offense, no defense. Go, go, go. High reward but very high risk. If everything goes well, you win a shoot out. But if not…….oh boy, can you say Mondale? The popular vote will be close but the large Hispanic and black voting groups in traditionally red states mean if a relatively small number of whites shift over it will be an electoral college rout.

    Man this is so much fun. Brokered convention?

  70. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Um, that’s absolutely a ridiculous answer. You simply don’t pay someone a MILLION DOLLARS for something like that. How much time do you think that assessment took him to make?

    Totally unbelievable, you – and Newt – must think that people are fools, to even offer such an account as evidence.

    We’ll see the truth when Newt agrees to release his ‘report’ that he wrote for Fannie, and seeing as he’s a sunshine and open-government warrior now, he’ll be happy to do so immediately. Right? When he continues to refuse to do so – even though they have indicated that they’d be happy to let him release all details of their agreement – what will your response be?

    I get that it’s difficult to respond to logical arguments when your support for someone is based on emotion. But you gotta realize that it’s going to be a long, tough year trying to put this guy up against Obama, a man who is his superior in every single way.

  71. MBunge says:

    Here’s a lit@john personna: “I guess the time shilling for Freddie wasn’t in the “most” part of his adult life?”

    What a wretched little drone you must be to throw aside one of the most significant and successful conservative leaders of your lifetime because your lords and masters tell you to. Let’s put aside the fact that the whole Freddie thing comes from right wingers trying to argue that it was poor black folk who caused the housing crisis. Why does that one thing disqualify Newt, but none of the non-conservative words and deeds of Romney matter at all?

    Mike

  72. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “You don’t actually know what Newt did.”

    Neither do you, genius.

    Mike

  73. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:
    No offense, but all of the *published evidence* contradicts Newt’s claim that he told F/F there model was failed. As late as 2007 we know for a FACT that Newt was publicly praising F/F’s model. Which means he either was accepting money to make public statements that he KNEW WERE FALSE or he’s adjusted his account of the past:

    Newt: I think it is telling that there is strong bipartisan support for maintaining the GSE model in housing. […] The housing GSEs have made an important contribution to homeownership and the housing finance system. We have a much more liquid and stable housing finance system than we would have without the GSEs. And making homeownership more accessible and affordable is a policy goal I believe conservatives should embrace. Millions of people have entered the middle class through building wealth in their homes, and there is a lot of evidence that homeownership contributes to stable families and communities. These are results I think conservatives should embrace and want to extend as widely as possible.”

    Source April 24, 2007 interview with Gingrich
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204012004577072502921422584.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
    http://web.archive.org/web/20080909224217/http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/about/policy/policytalk_gingrich_42407.html
    [emphasis mine]

  74. @MBunge:

    So what about the Medicare Part D that Steve mentions above?

    Has that program been re-blessed, and is it conservative liturgy now?

    Seriously. Dude.

    (I am an independent, and would give any sane Republican a listen in the general election. I think Obama’s OK, but I’m not a guaranteed vote for his side.)

  75. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “you just said Newt stole from a government backed institution.”

    No, I said he scammed them. As the financial crisis showed, there’s plenty of scams that aren’t technically illegal.

    But again, whoever lost their job because of what Newt did with Freddie? How many people lost their jobs while Mitt Romney shoveled more millions into his pockets?

    Mike

  76. @MBunge:

    I know exactly what he did. He took $1,600,000 dollars from Freddie Mac to further their interests.

  77. @MBunge:

    No, I said he scammed them. As the financial crisis showed, there’s plenty of scams that aren’t technically illegal.

    If you aren’t 14 years old, hang your head in shame.

  78. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “So what about the Medicare Part D that Steve mentions above?”

    You mean George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D? Karl Rove’s Medicare Part D? That’s what Newt should be blamed for?

    Mike

  79. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “I know exactly what he did.”

    Liar.

    Mike

  80. An Interested Party says:

    Nice way to smear an entire state there

    The crowds at the two debates already did a nice job of that…

    I do wonder though…people like Eric are totally oblivious to so much of reality…if Gingrich were to actually be the GOP nominee and then were to lose in spectacular fashion to the President, what would the excuse be as to why that happened? The evil MSM or other conspiracy theories, perhaps? The irony is so delicious…when Palin was in the news, some thought that she could be a part of the 1964 Landslide Part II…now, maybe Gingrich will fill that role…

  81. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “If you aren’t 14 years old, hang your head in shame.”

    If you think Newt is the first or only person in politics who has ever gotten somebody to pay them big money for little to no work, you’re the one who should hang his head in shame.

    And let me be clear, Newt Gingrich is in many ways a contemptible figure. But he’s not nearly as uniquely contemptble as people are trying to make out.

    Mike

  82. MBunge says:

    @An Interested Party: “if Gingrich were to actually be the GOP nominee and then were to lose in spectacular fashion to the President, what would the excuse be as to why that happened?”

    That’s exactly why so many of the people blasting Newt should want him to be the nominee, but they can’t put their own emotions to the side.

    Mike

  83. An Interested Party says:

    @MBunge: Indeed…Republicans are certainly in a pickle…they have to choose between the GOP version of Mondale/Dukakis/Kerry or a complete and total slimeball…with the former, they may have a chance depending on the economy but with the latter, they have no chance at all…

  84. @MBunge:

    That’s exactly why so many of the people blasting Newt should want him to be the nominee, but they can’t put their own emotions to the side.

    Just like with McCain, when Gingrich loses it will be blamed on a combination of media conspiracy against the Republican candidate, that Gingrich was always a closet liberal that no one in the party ever really supported, and that a TRUE CONSERVATVE (TM) would have won in a landslide.

  85. PJ says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Funny thing; Black conservatives… the fastest growing sub-group of conservatives, might take issue with you.

    You know, that black conservatives is the fastest growing sub-group of conservatives, that is a great indicator of how few of them there are.

  86. mannning says:

    Perhaps some voters have been following Newt’s long-term efforts to creat a new version of his former “Contract With America”, and liked what they read. I seriously doubt that any liberals and not many independents would support the ideas he expressed in:

    http://www.newt.org/news/why-we-need-21st-century-contract-america/

    Most conservatives do support the man’s ideas, while struggling with his baggage. In the end, they will support him regardless of those transgressions. There are loads of precedents to say that Presidents, like other mortals in positions of power, including Newt, are susceptible to the blandishments of women, most notably Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton. At least Newt is doing it the legal way in the end, so far, as opposed to the known White House Follies of others.

    I will take his ideas over Obama’s any day.

  87. Eric Florack says:

    You know, that black conservatives is the fastest growing sub-group of conservatives, that is a great indicator of how few of them there are.

    Were.

    There, fixed it.

    No offense, but all of the *published evidence* contradicts Newt’s claim that he told F/F there model was failed.

    Published by whom?
    Oops, huh?

    By practicing “family values”? God does not mind you banging your secretary on the desk while your wife is in the hospital/there’s no wife like a trophy wife…

    Given the divorce rate is on the order of 50% your argument here seems a bit thin.. particularly in light of your historically overt support for Bill Clinton.

  88. Eric Florack says:

    Manning, it’s as I’ve said… There are no perfect candidates. There never has been. Even Reagan had his issues. And for the rest of your comments, yes, indeed… so will I.

  89. Scott O. says:

    Published by whom?

    Bloomberg

  90. anjin-san says:

    Given the divorce rate is on the order of 50% your argument here seems a bit thin.. particularly in light of your historically overt support for Bill Clinton.

    What party is the self-proclaimed champion of “family values”? Practice what you preach. if you can’t do that, shut up. The GOP has presents so called family values at the core of its message. They never tire of talking about “values voters”, with more than a touch of moral superiority when they say it. To reconcile that with supporting someone who practices serial adultery will require a bit more than simply saying “Clinton did it”.

    Or is your argument that Newt is the moral equivalent of Clinton? Keep in mind that the right has spent the last 15 years shouting from the rooftops that Clinton disgraced the Presidency and did serious damage to the moral fabric of our country. Feel free to run with that one…

  91. @Eric Florack:

    he’s also written several.

    He is an author, of that there can be no debate.

    However, none of his books are histories (novels don’t count) and certainly none of them are academic texts. He has co-authored a number of novels and has written a number of books about his views on contemporary politics. He has not produced work as a historian.

  92. Eric Florack says:

    @Scott O. Bloomberg?:
    I rest my case.

    However, none of his books are histories (novels don’t count) and certainly none of them are academic texts. He has co-authored a number of novels and has written a number of books about his views on contemporary politics. He has not produced work as a historian.

    OK, but that’s not the charge I was answering. Then again, you knew that.
    And as an aside, one can hardly be adept at writing political commentary without having an understanding of history. Which, come to think on it, is perhaps why so many centrists and liberals have such problems in the field.

  93. Eric Florack says:

    What party is the self-proclaimed champion of “family values”?

    And at what point has Gingrich claimed anything of that mantle?

  94. Hey Norm says:

    “…So, only the vast majority of the state.,
    Ah, that’s much better…”

    It’s not my fault they love themselves some Union Jack. And it’s not my fault that they just voted overwhelmingly for a guy that has been spewing racist nonsense.
    99% of the Republican electorate is white. That’s an inclusive tent wouldn’t you say?
    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

  95. @mannning:

    There are loads of precedents to say that Presidents, like other mortals in positions of power, including Newt, are susceptible to the blandishments of women, most notably Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton.

    Yes, but Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton weren’t simultaneously using their opponents’ affairs to impeach them. It’s not Gingrich’s affairs that bother so many people as it is his totally shameless hypocrisy about them.

  96. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Did you follow the F/F Gingrich links that I posted? Either the WSJ or the Internet Archive? Are you seriously suggesting that Freddie Mac’s published interview with Gingrich was some how faked? BTW, Gingrich’s spokeperson did not dispute the accuracy of that interview only the underlying message:
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2011/12/gingrich-freddie-mac/1

    Also, that “proof” of black conservatives was a blog post about a Glen Beck show where he packed the audience with Black Conservatives?! Not exactly a particularly scientific proof you got there.

    Like I said, # of white voters in SC primary according to Fox News exit polling was 98%, black voters were 1% of the others. Even one more black voter would be significant increase with those numbers.

  97. jukeboxgrad says:

    A key difference between Newt and Mitt right now is that the former is doing a better job of faking sincerity.

  98. anjin-san says:

    And at what point has Gingrich claimed anything of that mantle?

    Not the point, though I can see why you need to try and bob and weave here.

    The point is that the GOP proclaims family values to be a core principal. How can they then nominate a man who’s actions are utterly opposite their self-proclaimed values?

    They can’t, without admitting that all of the preaching Republicans been doing for decades about values is bullshit, and they are only interested in power – that they are exactly like the people who they put forth as their moral inferiors.

  99. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:

    And as an aside, one can hardly be adept at writing political commentary without having an understanding of history.

    I cannot even begin to address how incorrect this statement unless read in either the most naive or the most cynical and Orwellian of ways.

    What’s worse, is that I realize that based on the source, there’s not point in bothering to have this discussion (especially knowing that you consider Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh to be astute political commentators).

  100. Eric Florack says:

    Keep in mind that the right has spent the last 15 years shouting from the rooftops that Clinton disgraced the Presidency and did serious damage to the moral fabric of our country. Feel free to run with that one…

    After so long defending Clinton on the point, your complaint now seems to lack a certain weight.

  101. Ben Wolf says:

    I’ll stipulate to Gingrich acting as the Fannie/Freddie historian if someone will produce a monograph on the subject written by Gingrich. If he was their historian, then it shouldn’t be difficult to find. Right?

  102. anjin-san says:

    After so long defending Clinton on the point

    Please show where I have ever defended Clinton cheating on his wife and/or subsequently lying about it.

  103. Eric Florack says:

    I cannot even begin to address how incorrect this statement unless read in either the most naive or the most cynical and Orwellian of ways.

    “Those who do not learn from history…” applies particularly well and importantly, to Politics, Matt.

  104. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:
    BTW, a bit more on the “published by whom”, note that the WSJ did follow up and confirm that Freddie Mac interview with Gingrich’s campaign spokesperson. Ditto Bloomberg;

    Gingrich’s contract with Freddie Mac ended in 2008. [Gingrich] Campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond said it isn’t surprising that Gingrich’s views have changed since 2007.

    “As to whether Newt now advocates a more aggressive overhaul of Fannie and Freddie than he previously did – of course he does,” Hammond said in an e-mail. “The total collapse of the global financial system has a tendency to make one look at a situation with a fresh set of eyes.”
    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/02/MN721M7G8L.DTL#ixzz1kDtuLBLH

  105. Eric Florack says:

    Not the point, though I can see why you need to try and bob and weave here

    Ah, but it is in fact the point, unless of course you’;re simply trying to lay blame for a position Gingrich hasn’t taken in this race. You wouldn’t do THAT, would you?
    Nah….

  106. anjin-san says:

    Ah, but it is in fact the point, unless of course you’;re simply trying to lay blame for a position Gingrich hasn’t taken in this race

    Well, either you are not bright enough to follow what I am saying – I am talking about GOP support for Newt, not Newt himself – or you are unable to respond and are simply pulling nonsense out of your ass which is pretty much all you are good for.

    BTW still waiting for this:

    Please show where I have ever defended Clinton cheating on his wife and/or subsequently lying about it.

  107. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:
    As does “those who control the present control the past, those who control the past control the future.” (Orwell, 1984)

    History, as practiced by historians, is far different than “history” as practiced by political commentators. And typically, when the prior actually remind us of the difficult facts of our own history – verifiable through primary source texts (see things like the evidence that Europeans were not the first off content people to “discover” the Americas, that our founding fathers included what would today be called “secular humanists” and slave owners, the genocide of indigenous American peoples long after the formation of the US, the fact that slavery was at the heart of the civil war, the US government’s role in assisting the overthrow of democratic governments) — the people in the latter category tend to get a bit up in arms claiming that “they know the REAL history.” See, for example, the amount of angst about historically accurate (at least as practiced by historians) textbooks over the last half century.

  108. steve says:

    “including Newt, are susceptible to the blandishments of women,”

    It is more than women. It is a lifetime of behavior. The pro-war hawk who ducked out when he should have served. Impeaching someone for sex while doing the same. Leaving government to become a lobbyist. Becoming wealthy while promoting interests that lead to massive government spending. Can you make a compelling case that Newt believes in anything other than Newt?

    Steve

  109. anjin-san says:

    @ Steve

    Newt pisses liberals off. At the end of the day, that is the only thing bithead cares about.

  110. Does Newt really piss off liberals? This moderate is more amazed, in a fairly detached way. Democratic partisans (above) express amusement.

    Maybe Newt isn’t such a deal for the Erics and MBunges.

    They are reacting poorly to an authentic warning.

  111. grumpy realist says:

    @mattb: That’s one of the reasons why Newt isn’t a real historian nor a real intellectual (although he plays one on TV for the peasants). Newt has never, ever, ever, demonstrated that when presented with data that conflicts with a pet theory, he would throw out the theory and keep the evidence.

    A.J.P. Taylor wrote a marvelous history called “The Origins of the Second World War” where he laid out the exact scenario by which Hitler had managed to drag all of Europe into war. Taylor admitted that when he started his research, he thought that Hitler had had some grand master plan to carry out, but as he looked at the evidence and analyzed it, he had to come to the conclusion that Hitler was simply taking advantage of weaknesses in his opponents as they were presented to him. So Taylor changed his theory and wrote it up–which turned out to be highly controversial at that point of time and earned him many brickbats. Further evidence (and cooler heads) after the war affirmed Taylor’s conclusions.

    Taylor is a historian. Gingrich is not.

  112. mannning says:

    @steve:

    I see it this way: it takes a big ego to storm through to high public office, especially the Presidentcy, and that Newt has in spades. He just happens to be one who articulates in writing and speeches in great detail what he wants to accomplish in that role, far more than anyone else, as far as I know, and he hits most of my own ideas quite well. He wants to regain the transparency in government and participation by the citizens that we lost almost completely in 2008 to an arrogant group, including helping Republicans to retake the Senate and hold the House.

    From a personal point of view, I really do not like his past actions, but those sins pale, pale, pale in comparison to Obama’s vast array of sins, so if Newt gets the nomination I will support him. Google “Obama’s Lies” some time and sift through it all, not just one or two.
    I cannot vote here in VA for Newt to be the Republican candidate: he did not get on the ballot.

  113. mattb says:

    @grumpy realist:
    To put it a different way, from the time it was initially published to the end of WWII, in Germany “Mein Kamf” was, based on sales and readership, a highly regarded political commentary. It contained “historical” information about the Jews (among other aspects).

    Anyone want to defend Hitler’s qualifications as a historian? I’m sure he would have defended his historical accounts?

    He sure was, at least for a number of years, an astute political commentator.

    Lest I seem to be proof of Godwin’s Law, let me be clear, I’m not comparing anyone to Hitler. I’m just saying that if you want to reduce things to the point of saying that “one can hardly be adept at writing political commentary without having an understanding of history” you need to account for works such as Mien Kampf.

    Of course, one might say well Mien Kampf wasn’t astute political commentary. This might be true, but it begs the question of how one judges astute political commentary? The popularity of the work? It’s ability to influence change in the world? Or perhaps it’s inter-generational staying power?

  114. anjin-san says:

    regain the transparency in government and participation by the citizens that we lost almost completely in 2008

    Ah. Because the Bush admin was “transparent”. I see.

    Obama’s vast array of sins

    Hmm. Guess in conservative politics, being devoted to your family in reality, as Obama is, as opposed to on paper, is a sin.

  115. Scott O. says:

    @mannning:

    I cannot vote here in VA for Newt to be the Republican candidate: he did not get on the ballot.

    That’s a message from God.

  116. An Interested Party says:

    There are loads of precedents to say that Presidents, like other mortals in positions of power, including Newt, are susceptible to the blandishments of women, most notably Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton. At least Newt is doing it the legal way in the end, so far, as opposed to the known White House Follies of others.

    That’s a defense of Gingrich, that he’s slightly better in the morality department than Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton? Oh, good luck with that in the general election: “Vote for Newt, he’s slightly less sleazy than Clinton!”

  117. Racehorse says:

    $4 a gallon: Republicans win presidential election
    $2.50 a gallon: Obama is reelected
    (I am talking about the price of a gallon of milk)

  118. steve says:

    “He wants to regain the transparency in government and participation by the citizens that we lost almost completely in 2008”

    Then why did he work as a lobbyist? Those past actions include lobbying for Medicare Part D, the largest unfunded spending bill in our history? Is there any action Newt could have taken in the past that you think would make him an unacceptable candidate? Why do you judge solely by words and ignore actions? (You really think we had transparency in government before 2008? Look at the major policy decisions of the prior administration and tell us which of those were transparent.)

    Steve

  119. mannning says:

    It is a wonderful chorus against Gingrich! Too bad Newt can outshine Obama if he gets the chance. It is a shame for the nation that Obama is so much more of a sinner!

  120. anjin-san says:

    It is a shame for the nation that Obama is so much more of a sinner!

    Well, Newt appears to have the tin foil hat vote dialed in…

  121. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Obama seems to have the arrogant, self-centered, conceited, willing-to-lie, and accept-lies crowd on his side..

  122. James says:

    @mannning: You wrote something, but all I’m seeing is “I’m rubber, you’re glue…”

  123. WR says:

    @john personna: I PAID to go to my last Humanities conference and deliver a paper. Stipend? What the hell is that?

  124. Scott O. says:

    @mannning: Hey, I’m on Newt’s side all through the primaries. If he’s still in play a month from now I’ll reregister as a Republican so I can vote for him

  125. WR says:

    @MBunge: “And let me be clear, Newt Gingrich is in many ways a contemptible figure. But he’s not nearly as uniquely contemptble as people are trying to make out.”

    Well, there’s a campaign slogan. You going to put the bumper sticker on your car? “Sure, he’s a scumbag, but he’s not black!”

  126. WR says:

    @mannning: “. There are loads of precedents to say that Presidents, like other mortals in positions of power, including Newt, are susceptible to the blandishments of women,”

    Spoken like a true conservative — it’s always the sluts fault. That’s why fundamentialist Muslims, Jews and Christians all loathe women and want to see them completely covered — because men can’t possibly be responsible for their own actions. It’s got to the faults of those tramps.

    Good going, Manning.

  127. grumpy realist says:

    @mattb: I think we all agree that Gingrich is a verbal bomb-thrower; the question is whether he has enough intellectual integrity to be anything else. And as said, since I have never seen any example of where he has said “I was wrong in my theory, the data proved me wrong”, I have to conclude NO.

    Gingrich wants to call himself a historian because he wants the reputation of an intellectual without doing any of the hard work or adhering to any of the mental discipline.

  128. anjin-san says:

    @ Manning

    The “Obama lies” sites you have shared with us are about as credible as the Loch Ness monster.

  129. doubter4444 says:

    @anjin-san:
    What are these myriad lies that this guy keeps bringing up? Or the sins? (Which to me is a mral failing, I guess)

  130. mannning says:

    So here are your rules, liberals:

    Rule 1: Liberals are always right!

    Rule 2: Liberals must use any means whatsoever to attempt to ensure that Rule 1 is true. Any means!

    Witness the above set of comments!

    @anjin-san:

    Your saying so does not make the lies go away. In fact, since it is you saying that it lends great credibility to the set of defined lies (Rule 2). Let me see you refure the entire set, one at a time, before you declare them worthless without any proof whatsoever.

  131. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Dear san: This is 2012, and our President is Obama. We have an election coming up, if you have not pulled your head out of the Book of Bush to see. How about trying your level best to keep your focus on today and tomorrow? There is not much that can be done to change the past, if you haven’t noticed, but some of us are very interested in the future of this nation, and in excluding Rules 1 and 2 above insofar as possible legally.

  132. mannning says:

    @WR:

    Just in case you haven’t figured it out for yourself, it takes two to tango, “friend.” Do you always go so far overboard in your comments like that? I should take umbrige at the slur on Christians, but then, today, I will just consider the ignorance of the source. I rather imagine you wouldn’t know a fundamentalist Christian if you saw one, and you would not find them degrading women, now would you, any more than Episcopalians in my church would?

  133. mannning says:

    Ah! The word was to be spelled umbrage!

  134. mannning says:

    @doubter4444:

    FYI, I have used sin in the sense of an offense, which includes lying, among other transgressions.

  135. mannning says:

    “With Obama as the DEM nominee and he loses in spectacular fashion to Gingrich (or Romney), what would the excuse be as to why that happened?”

  136. Rob in CT says:

    The economy, in that scenario, would most likely get a good chunk of the blame. Followed by alleged timidity on the part of the Dems in campaigning (this is akin to the “true conservative” argument some Republicans make), and/or the GOP’s campaigning (nasty, etc.). That’s my guess as to the excuse/explanation that Dems would choose if Obama loses. Well, that’s if he loses to Mitt. If he lost to Gingrich? Hmm. Mass hysteria?

    Gingrich is a terrible candidate for rather obvious reasons. He’s a blowhard who is all do as I say not as I do, from “moral” matters to more mundane things like his lobbying work for the GSEs, support of big spending when the GOP is in power and railing against it later. Ego – something anyone who runs for POTUS must have – jacked up to 11. Yet another chickenhawk, as well, which fits the do as I say, not as I do pattern.

    But he massages YOUR egos, so you’ll follow him.

  137. mannning says:

    @Rob in CT:

    So just to be fair, do your stilleto massage on Obama too.

  138. Joel says:

    @mattb:
    It’s not true that the founding fathers were mostly proto-secular-humanists. That’s just as much a distortion as David Barton’s pseudo-history where they were 90% evangelicals. Like most of these debates, the truth is somewhere in between. John Fea’s book “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” is a balanced take on the subject.

  139. Joel says:

    After rereading your comment, I see that you wrote “they included what we would call secular humanists.” So you were in fact making a more nuanced claim than I thought. Sorry.

  140. mattb says:

    @Joel:
    No worries and thanks for noticing that.

    To be sure, we had many Christian founding fathers. I have no problems in fact with the idea that the majority of founding fathers self-identified as Christian.

    That said it must be noted that there were a wide range of expressions of Christianity then as now. I just object to the back projection of Modern Evangelical American Christianity onto the founding fathers. Or pretending that there were not secular humanists present within that group.

    Thanks for the book suggestion btw.