Newt: No Boring White Guys

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks, as he kicks off three days of policy workshops, at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)Newt Gingrich is counseling the GOP not to pick any more boring white guys:

With speculation mounting that John McCain may be close to choosing his running mate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Wednesday went public with his recommendations for the GOP vice presidential nominee.

First choice: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Runner-up: Alasaka Gov. Sarah Palin.

“What I’m afraid of is that if Sen. McCain picks one more relatively boring, normal, mainstream Republican white guy … he just makes the ticket seem boring compared to the level of energy and drive and excitement that (Democrat Barack) Obama has,” warned Gingrich, himself a silver-haired, middle-aged white politician out of central casting.

Well, Jindal has stated rather categorically that he’s not interested, which would leave Palin. Gingrich insists he’s not racist and that, indeed, some of his best friends are white:

“And this is not a comment on any of my many friends who are competent people,” said Gingrich, who helped the GOP capture Congressional majorities in the 1994 Republican Revolution. “It’s a comment on the objective reality that this fall, there is going to be a lot of energy surrounding the Obama campaign,” he said.

I never thought I’d see the day when being white and male would be considered a political liability in this country. When Esquire asked, “Can a White Man Still be Elected President?” I presumed they meant it tongue-in-cheek.

Jindal, ever the romantic, said this:

I think the most important thing in picking a vice president is not what state they come from, not what demographic they appeal to, but rather whether the senator thinks this person would be ready to be president if — God forbid — that situation arises. That’s probably the only thing that should matter.

That, plus being entertaining and, if possible, female and non-white.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    I’ve heard rumor that Palin may be under corruption investigation, anyone heard the details of this?

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I heard a rumor that Michael is under investigation for being a left wing tool. Anyone else hear this?

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Gingrinch’s point is more about the boring than the white. He’s advocating getting someone exciting onto the ticket to counter the excitement from the Obama campaign. How else will McCain get some press coverage?

    Being white isn’t a liability but being boring is.

  4. Alex Knapp says:


    There is a mini-scandal brewing in Alaska over whether Palin fired the State Police Commissioner. The Commissioner claims that Palin had pressured him to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper currently in a custody battle with Palin’s sister. Some legislators are calling for hearings, others for an independent investigator.

    I have no idea if there’s any there there.

  5. Michael says:

    I heard a rumor that Michael is under investigation for being a left wing tool. Anyone else hear this?

    Oh man, I’ve been outed! Yes, it’s true, I am both Howard Dean and Al Gore in disguise.

  6. Dantheman says:


    Never mind who you are a pseudonym for. What kind of tool are you? A circular saw? A ballpeen hammer? Inquiring minds want to know.

  7. Michael says:

    Thanks for the link, Alex, the allegations it does sound like they are light on substance.

  8. sam says:

    I never thought I’d see the day when being white and male would be considered a political liability in this country.

    Newt did say “boring” white guy.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Newt did say “boring” white guy.

    Sure. But why not just say, “another boring candidate”? Said as he did, especially when mentioning an Indian man and a white woman as the alternatives, certainly leads to that conclusion.

  10. Fence says:

    Clearly Newt is giving a plug for himself. Love him or hate him, he isn’t boring.

  11. Ron says:

    McCain can’t pick Romney,he has no courage and is not an independent thinker. Did I mention he is Mormon. Romney would cost him some parts of the South.Jindal says that he doesn’t want the job. That leaves Pawlenty versus Palin. Newt is trying to give him some advice. If you pick a boring white guy then you are toast. The Dems will cast McCain and the Republican party as racist and sexist. McCain has made some disparaging comments about women in the past. I think he picks Palin.

  12. O.F. Jay says:

    So, after all the chatter and heat that McCain gets for being a “me too” kind of guy who’s trying to out-Obama The Obama, Newt Gingrich advises the GOP to play the game according to Obama’s rules. Young, inexperienced, and non-white? So let’s get the same kind of guy to run as Vice instead of countering the first two points (since trying to counter “non-white” as a qualification—that of politically correct posh—is racist). Is Gingrich one of those defeatist Republicans now?

    I have yet to clearly hear from McCain what he stands FOR. Speaking your mind and expecting the voters to come has worked before. I don’t see why it won’t work now.

  13. Michael says:

    So, after all the chatter and heat that McCain gets for being a “me too” kind of guy who’s trying to out-Obama The Obama, Newt Gingrich advises the GOP to play the game according to Obama’s rules. Young, inexperienced, and non-white?

    Hmmm, sounds like McCain should pick Obama as his running mate. Now there’s a winning ticket!

  14. Floyd says:

    “He just makes the ticket seem boring compared to the level of energy and drive and excitement that (Democrat Barack) Obama has,”
    Energy,drive and excitement……
    Like a chicken with it’s head cut off,it’s a
    real circus,resulting only in a dead chicken with no head!
    It’s America that gets “plucked” in the end!

  15. Beldar says:

    As a Palin supporter, I had been following this story, and had occasion to look into it again in response to a comment someone left on my blog. To summarize what I wrote there (which includes links to articles from the state’s largest newspaper):

    In a 2005 internal investigation done by the Alaska state troopers, the trooper in question was confirmed to have used his Taser on his own 10-year-old stepson and to have illegally killed a moose. He got a ten-day suspension without pay, which was cut in half by the supervisor who Palin later fired. Palin makes no bones about her and her family’s dislike of the trooper, who she says has also made death threats against her and her father, driven drunk, and scammed the state with a phony worker’s comp claim. If ever there’s a state trooper who deserves to be fired, it’s surely this guy.

    But Palin denies that his non-firing was the reason behind her replacement of his boss, who’s a political appointee that serves at the pleasure of the governor. The fired guy says he felt pressured in some unspecified way, but can’t identify any specific threats or demands from Palin or anyone connected with her, and he’s given conflicting statements even about having felt pressured. Given that Palin swept into office on an anti-corruption platform that caught up several high GOP officials — including, at its margins, the incumbent governor she defeated — it’s awfully hard to fault her for wanting a new head of that state agency.

    This whole hoo-hah was ginned up by Andrew Halcro, the distant third-place independent candidate in the 2006 gubernatorial race that Palin won, who runs a rental car agency by day and uses his blog by night to try to get back at Palin. He’s cast his lot with a proven child abuser and misuser of deadly weapons, which frankly tells me all I need to know about him.

    The fact that she lacks a Y-chromosome isn’t one of my reasons for supporting Gov. Palin. Rather, she’s made it to the top of her state’s political heap on her own merits, without being anyone important’s wife or daughter. In a political career roughly as long as Obama’s, she’s actually accomplished things in office. And in particular on energy policy — which ought to be McCain’s signature domestic issue this fall, and which merges with the national security issues on which Obama is naturally weak — she would be a transformative candidate, the new face of the GOP for the 21st Century, and quite possibly the most effective vice presidential candidate in American history.

    I readily grant that she’s nowhere near as old and experienced as McCain, and that (like virtually all governors) she lacks any substantial foreign policy experience. But McCain has those bases already covered.

    McCain/Palin 2008: New Energy for America.

  16. Beldar says:

    Ack — re-reading that, I wince at the phrase “without being anyone important’s wife or daughter.” In fact, in her inauguration address, Gov. Palin said:

    I believe in public education. I’m proud of my family’s many, many years working in our schools. I hope my claim to fame, believe it or not, is never that I’m Alaska’s first female governor. I hope it continues to be, “You’re Mr. Heath’s daughter.” My dad for years has been teaching in the schools and even today he’s inspiring students across the state. So many students around this land came up to me not saying, “Oh, you’re Sarah Palin … you’re running for office … you’re the governor.” No, it’s been, “Sarah Palin, wow! Mr. Heath’s been my favorite teacher of all time.”

    My apologies to Mr. Heath! I ought to have said, “without being the wife or daughter of anyone who’s politically powerful.”

  17. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Well, first of all, regarding the initial subject of this thread: I’m inclined to think that this country has grown up enough that it simply doesn’t give a damn anymore whether or not McCain (or Obama) picks a female or nonwhite running mate or not — people are much more interested simply in whether said running mate appears to be competent. (I may turn out to be wrong, but hope springs eternal.)

    Now, regarding Beldar’s continuing rhapsodies about Gov. Palin, whose “transformative” energy policies consist of urging us to “drill, drill, drill” (hardly surprising — after all, she’s an Alaskan). First, let’s quote the San Francisco Chronicle two days ago on just how effective this would be in reality:

    “…[O]ffshore oil exploration is slow and costly.

    “If the federal government opened California’s coast to drilling tomorrow, the first exploratory wells probably wouldn’t be drilled for at least six years, [Ken] Medlock [‘an energy research fellow at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’] said. Bringing newly discovered oil fields into full production would take longer.

    “That means any new oil wouldn’t arrive on the market until midway through the next decade, at the earliest. The process is slow enough that the Energy Information Administration, the statistics branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimated last year that opening the coasts to offshore drilling would have no significant impact on oil prices before 2030.”

    See Kevin Drum for more details on that study:

    “A recent EIA study [he provides the link] took a look at the impact that drilling in ANWR would have, and they concluded that it would probably reduce oil prices by 75 cents a barrel in 2025. A change that small two decades in the future almost certainly wouldn’t have any effect on commodity traders today…

    “…[O]pening up new drilling both offshore and in ANWR would produce more oil and result in modestly lower oil prices once production ramped up a decade from now. You can decide for yourself whether you think the environmental costs are worth it, but the likelihood of this having any impact on oil prices today is tiny.

    “CORRECTION: Offshore oil reserves affected by the federal ban are estimated at 18 billion barrels, which is indeed larger than ANWR. However, EIA projects that offshore production rates would be about half of ANWR production rates, which means that lifting the ban on offshore drilling would probably have an even smaller effect on future oil prices than ANWR’s 75 cents a barrel in 2025. In other words, ‘tiny’ was probably the wrong word in my concluding sentence above. ‘Minuscule’ is more like it.”

    Might one suggest that a faster way of lowering energy (and particularly gasoline) costs to most Americans is to increase the efficiency with which we use it — including buying smaller cars, building more rail transit, and maybe even renting out big trucks and SUVs as multiple-passenger and cargo vehicles?

    Now, as to the POLITICAL effectiveness of the Beldar/Palin line, let’s look at today’s Quinnipiac poll of four swing states (which actually shows McCain making mild but significant gains in three of them) — specifically, Questions #16 through 25, on the public’s own energy-policy beliefs. They do indeed favor, by landslide margins, offshore and ANWR drilling — but this doesn’t help McCain a lick, because they favor developing renewable energy sources MUCH more (by margins about 50 points larger!), and therefore tend to regard Obama as being better on energy policy. (They also seriously underestimate the gains that could be made by energy conservation measures, high-mileage cars, and maybe nuclear power — but this current error of theirs doesn’t play to McCain’s political advantage.)

  18. Beldar says:

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics. You’ve put your faith in the least honorable one of the three, Bruce. Those who insist they can calculate, literally to the penny, what energy prices are going to be in 2025 are nutcases. They can’t predict what energy prices are going to be six months from now, or they’d all have retired already after making a killing in the markets.

    Americans collectively are smart enough to know that the current high energy prices can only be addressed effectively through a combination of solutions. You write, Bruce, as though McCain or the GOP opposes conservation. We don’t. We oppose government-mandated, government-specified conservation because government management of the economy distorts the markets and ends up making things worse. (See, e.g., Soviet Union and everything, 1918-1991; U.S. Congress and ethanol, mid-1990s-present.)

    Strip government restrictions out of the way and let the markets work, both on the supply side and the demand side.

    This is a classic conservative theme that dovetails with classic economics. You, Bruce, and your party are peddling a culture of victimization in which Americans can’t manage to figure out whether it makes sense to switch to better lightbulbs or support alternative energy sources that make economic sense. Indeed they can. And they likewise understand that someone like you who pooh-poohs drilling, always with some statistical “proof” to back you up, are peddling patent nonsense. Current market prices respond to changes in current expectations regarding both supply and demand. Right now the price of oil worldwide is heavily invested in the notion that the do-nothing, drill-nowhere, poor us American Congress will continue government interference to block supply increases, and cram purported demand fixes down consumers’ throats whether they make economic sense or not.

    I’ll put my hockey mom from Alaska up against your Ivy League PhDs any day.

  19. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Ah. So the pollution (including excessive CO2 production) caused by lack of energy conservation — and pollution, by its very nature, is one thing that the market cannot deal with — is unimportant? And the EIA’s estimate of the TOTAL amount of oil in ANWR and off our shores (which of course is the maximum that can be extracted by drilling) is totally without foundation, and therefore unimportant in concluding that even unrestricted drilling in those places will lower the price of oil only slightly?

    It’s useful, though, to learn that you think more of the knowledge of a “hockey mom” than of “Ivy League PhDs” (including those in Bush’s Energy Department, not noted for its sympathy toward socialism). It tells us a lot more about you.

  20. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Silly of me not to have mentioned the additional point that Palin, as the governor of the nation’s purest oil state, is hardly an unbiased intellectual witness as to the desirability of more drilling. Particularly, again, as compared to Bush’s Energy Department analysts. (Come to think of it, Mr. Joyner mentioned this point to you a couple of days ago and never did get a response.)

    Nor (if we’re going to talk about overconfident pronouncements) can I resist mentioning the fact that McCain yesterday confidently announced that the $13/barrel fluctuation-drop in oil prices this summer was definitely due to Bush’s lifting of the ban on offshore drilling — only to be contradicted by Dana Perino, who said that it might instead be due to “a drop in demand”.

  21. Bruce Moomaw says:

    A somewhat more optimistic earlier analysis of the effect of unrestricted offshore drilling on gas prices from Dean Baker, again based on that EIA estimate of the total amount of oil in our offshore deposits — which the EIA’s analysts said was uncertain in BOTH directions: it may actually be somewhat more, or it may be somewhat less. His conclusion (based on quite elementary economic mathematics): we could look forward to an 8 cent-per-gallon drop in gas prices.

    Summary: when McCain says that offshore drilling can lower gas prices in any major way, he’s lying through his teeth. We simply don’t have big enough oil reserves. And if Palin is joining him in this, she’s lying too.

  22. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Actually, “lying through his teeth” is too rough — he honestly may not know he’s mistaken. Let’s just say “peddling a total untruth that happens to be advantageous to his campaign”.

  23. Bruce Moomaw says:

    So, let me sum up: the several cents/gallon cut in gas prices that we’ll get from offshore and ANWR drilling may or may not be worth the environmental problems they produce. But when McCain says that they’ll allow a MASSIVE cut in gas prices, and are therefore DEFINITELY worthwhile, he’s peddling hooey. And, if she’s doing the same thing, so is Palin.

  24. Bruce Moomaw says:

    There’s also that other problem: any long-lived capital we build to extract this oil (drilling platforms, pipelines) will alleviate our problem for only a few decades — after which the oil will run out and we’ll have to leave all that now-useless equipment to rust. But any long-lived capital we build to solve the problem in other ways — such as railways or renewable-energy plants — will be permanently useful. Does the market deal adequately with this fact, given that it’s necessarily short-sighted?