The Left by Y.I. Wearblack
The Center by Jerry Morgan
The Right by Dwight Cameron
The precipitous decline of Newt Gingrich and meteoric rise of Rick Santorum were two unforeseen events. Though not entirely unrelated they speak to the tenuous nature of our present political landscape. But this account of the Iowa Caucuses shall begin at the front entrance of good journalism, the doorstep of accountability. I picked Ron Paul to win thereby missing the primary political dynamic which determined the outcome. But let us sort out the results, their significance and what it portends for the future.
First let us start off with Ron Paul. He fell about four points in the last week. Those voters most probably went to Romney and were voters who believed that Romney’s prospects of victory outweighed Paul’s radical agenda. But Paul picked up points since 2008 and his support was strong. They came mainly from younger voters who do not want to pay taxes, support entitlements or go to war. That is logic I can understand, and that political dynamic can and will play a strong role in the general election. Paul cannot be President for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his age. It is simply too stressful a job for a man 78 years old and I believe too stressful for a man who is ten years younger, Newt Gingrich. Also, counting up the constituencies of those who could never vote for Paul similarly disqualifies him. But he is a viable third party candidate who would draw significantly from any Republican ensuring a Republican loss, and he may be inclined to do so because his support will continue at this level.
Next let’s examine Rick Perry’s showing. Ten percent was very disappointing considering the amount of time and money he spent in the state. He performed so poorly in the debates; in both form and substance he virtually eliminated himself for consideration. He didn’t put forth a vision for the country; he depended on platitudes which he could barely express or remember. However, this poor showing does not eliminate him. If he can get Newt Gingrich to drop out and support him, he might beat Santorum in South Carolina and reanimate his candidacy. Although this seems unlikely, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility because Newt realizes he has little chance of winning the Presidency and this move could stop Romney who he now despises for breaking Reagan’s eleventh commandment.
And how about Newt? Newt’s performance in the debates catapulted him into the lead, so much so that he declared himself the ultimate nominee. But the instant that happened, every conceivable Republican of any significance came out against him. But it was Romney’s ten million dollars in ads, and the 3.6 million by his super pac that did in Newt; the most powerful ad of which was based on my posting of “Would Newt’s baggage fly for free on JetBlue?” Check out the archives. I don’t mind being ripped off, but helping Mitt Romney in any way gives me a queasy feeling, to say the least, and it took a good bath and two full days before I could forgive myself. National politics has told many stories of redemption, but Newt was already riding the wave of repentance because of his multiple marriages. So his revival isn’t likely. He has only two reasons to stay in the race, the first being to get Mitt Romney for depriving him of the nomination, and the second is keeping himself in the picture so he can sell his books and memorabilia. The smart political move would be to go after Romney in this week’s debates, weaken him for South Carolina, then throw his support to either Rick Perry or Rick Santorum. But for all of his supposed intellect, which in my opinion is highly over-rated, his behavior will be governed by his self-interest.
That brings us to Rick Santorum. Forget it! The country is not interested in going back to war any time soon. That sentiment is not only coming from the young, it is coming from the old. A major event could change that sentiment but I am not betting on it. Rick has no money and isn’t likely to get any. The big contributors don’t like him. He won’t be able to travel to all the counties in New Hampshire or South Carolina as he did in Iowa, and his social conservative agenda won’t sell anywhere else like it sold in Iowa. Also, Rick Santorum carries a ton of baggage. He was “senator earmark” and admitted it. His family value mantra only applies to Democrats. He was eager to urge Anthony Wiener to resign, but was quite reticent when it came Senator John Ensign, his friend, whose situation Santorum was well aware of before it became public knowledge (as per Rachel Maddow show January 4, 2012). Furthermore, Santorum does not come across well on television; he lacks the aplomb of Romney, Perry and especially Obama. I don’t think there is enough steam in his campaign to sustain it and I am writing him off.
And then there is Romney, the 8 vote winner in a state in which only 5% of the citizens turned out to vote. His staffers bragged that they could not imagine a scenario, given the current group of candidates, in which Romney would not win the nomination. I am inclined to agree. Once Perry eliminated himself, Gingrich was the only real threat, and simply highlighting his past was enough to neutralize it. Romney’s problem is that seventy-five per cent of his party strongly dislikes him. That lack of enthusiasm might hurt him in the general election and could conspire to beat him out of the nomination, I just don’t see how.
One more postscript: I won’t miss Michele Bachmann. I hope she has faded from the political scene permanently. I find her “annoying!”
The Center by Jerry Morgan
The results of Iowa are somewhat of a disappointment for a moderate, someone who aims for the center of the road, who believes in change, but slow thoughtful change, governed by sanity and compromise. I want to keep the American Dream alive; I believe in free market capitalism; I do not think America should be the policemen of the world; I believe that medical research should not be hampered by religious fanatics. Yes, it is difficult to walk down the middle of the road without teetering to one side or the other and at times, I find myself walking down the left side of the road while at other times I veer off inexplicably to the right. I have an opinion on most every issue, so the question in mind, after Iowa, is which candidate comes closest to satisfying my set of beliefs among the remaining 5 viable candidates: Romney, Santorum, Paul, Gingrich or Huntsman? Huntsman was not a player in Iowa so he will be eliminated from my analysis, Bachmann is out and Perry is all but out.
That leaves the top 4 vote getters from the Hawkeye State: Romney, Santorum, Paul and Gingrich.
First, I will eliminate the candidate who I feel would be most detrimental to the health and welfare of this country if elected president and that is Ron Paul. While I agree in principle with many of his fiscal and libertarian views, the reality of putting real policy into practice would be destructive to the fabric of our society in its current form. Further, while his non-interventionist foreign policy platform is progressive in the sense that it allows for open and free trade with all nations, it is dangerous when it comes to hiding our heads in the sand with respect to dealing with potentially explosive situations in parts of the world like Korea, Iran and the rest of the Middle East, India and Pakistan. We cannot merely implement the libertarian perspective of maintaining armies to protect our shores and not worry about potential threats abroad.
Second, I will eliminate Mitt Romney, partly because he rubs me the wrong way. Yes, I resent anyone being able to buy an election, to throw money at a problem in order to make it go away, to bet ten thousand dollars like it is penny. But that is not why I am rejecting him. If he was consistent in his views; if he, like Newt Gingrich suggests, were to admit that he is a Massachusetts moderate, then I could, perhaps, support him. I liked the Mitt Romney who was Governor of Massachusetts, but I don’t like the flip-flopper who is now vying inanely to compete with Santorum and others for the support of the right-wing base of the Republican Party. This man, the man seeking the candidacy of the GOP for president of the United States of America, I can no longer trust because I am convinced that he is not the Mitt Romney of 1994 when he was trying to move to the left of Senator Ted Kennedy on issues such as gay rights, nor is he the Mitt Romney of 2002 when he ran for Governor of the state of Massachusetts and I doubt that he is the Mitt Romney of 2012 who is vowing to expel 11 million illegal immigrants and defines personhood as beginning at the cellular level so that a test tube zygote would have legal protection as a person. The bottom line is that I don’t trust Mitt Romney; I don’t think he knows who he is or what he stands for anymore.
Third, I will eliminate Santorum mainly because I view him as a war-monger and that makes him a dangerous choice in my mind. In addition, he is too much a social conservative for my liking. Levels of sanctimony to which he ascribes rarely if ever meet expectations, resulting in a very demoralizing valley of hypocrisy. His economic plan is limited to bringing back manufacturing to our shores which sounds nice but is very difficult to accomplish, at least not enough to make a significant impact.
That leaves Newt. I cannot believe that I am writing in support of Newt Gingrich, a man who I did not particularly like when he was Speaker of the House and a man who has often rubbed me the wrong way with his abrasiveness, arrogance, and his spewing out whatever gibberish may enter his mind. However, I find myself agreeing more and more with my colleague on the right, Dwight Cameron who endorsed Newt on this blog, shortly after the Manchester Union Leader’s endorsement. I think many of the same reasons for endorsing him back then make sense today. In addition, he has acquitted himself well in the debates, showing the illogic of his opponents’ positions on illegal immigration as well as other issues. He won each of the debates hands down and is clearly the brightest of the candidates. He also has a history of being able to compromise, having worked well with President Clinton to pass critical legislation on welfare reform while adhering to the principles of his contract with America. His foreign policy is principled but a little rough around the edges as is his general personality. Nevertheless, he has proven himself to be the most middle of the road candidate left standing and worthy of my support.
The Right by Dwight Cameron
I do not trust Romney. He seems to have big government instincts--not my cup of tea. The last thing we need is another W. 'Electability' is what carried him to a three way photo finish victory in Iowa. To me that is irrelevant. I want a candidate who has the qualities of leadership and the ability to right the course that Obama has steered us down. Mitt is simply not that man.
Newt knows how Washington works and knows how to compromise; he and Bill Clinton had a plan to save Social Security until Bubba scuttled it. He later worked with Clinton on pushing through important legislation on welfare reform. He is also an excellent debater and would do much better than Mitt facing off with Obama one on one. He has good ideas, expresses them well and can think on his feet. Four years ago he wrote Real Change, a book where he outlined his ideas which, he claimed, may garner support among the majority of Americans. I agree. For instance, we obviously have a great many energy resources which could be developed to make us less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. The Republican slogan of "drill, baby, drill" was one of Newt's ideas that he outlined in his book. Other than Rick Santorum who I do not find overtly objectionable, and Ron Paul who also has some redeeming qualities that I like (see my post on Paul), the other Republicans have either flamed out or could not get the support of the main-stream of the Party. I believe Newt is a small government conservative at heart and like the Manchester Union Leader, he has my endorsement. Click for the endorsement of the paper.
Sure, Newt has heavy baggage but not sooo heavy. Go Newt!