The Hidden Strength of Gingrich

The University of Minnesota has a piece suggesting that Mr. Gingrich the only candidate in the recent debates who has come under no attacks from his fellows.  Why?

Why?  One obvious reason might be that until lately, he hasn't been worth attacking; only recently has he begun to poll seriously.  The main reason that UMN comes up with is that Mr. Gingrich has played fair on the point -- just as game theory would suggest, not attacking people is a good road to not being attacked.  Only Rep. Paul has launched fewer critiques of fellow Republicans, and on top of that Mr. Gingrich has pointedly criticized moderators who tried to draw him into attacking fellow Republicans.  Thus, he has drawn a clear standard, and he has upheld it:  and this is the sort of conduct that game theory would suggest produces a peace between players.

I think there is one more reason, though, which is that Mr. Gingrich is far and away the smartest guy on the stage.  If debates are about intellectual strength, then Mr. Gingrich benefits from our old motto:  Peace Through Superior Firepower.  It is simply wisdom from the rest of the field to recognize the disparity, and not call down his fire upon themselves.

Intelligence and knowledge aren't the only factors in choosing a nominee, of course.  There are several reasons not to prefer Mr. Gingrich, the most significant for me being his treatment of the women in his life.  Still, I suspect that one reason that Newt will continue to escape sharp criticism in the debates is that he is more than capable of collecting the heads of anyone who tries.  Since he has also offered a clear road to avoiding that rather public humiliation, I think he'll tread safely unless he proves to have lasting electoral strength.

What is likely to happen instead of a direct conflict is an attempt to stab him from a place of safety, as in his back.  Rather than attacks in the debates, Mr. Gingrich is in danger of anonymously-sourced hit pieces of the type that has so damaged the Cain campaign.


E Hines said...

I think what has damaged Cain from the anonymously-sourced attacks is his own handling of them as much as the attacks themselves--which still lack substantiation of any sort. Cain's errors here are those of a political neophyte, not a perforce guilty man.

Gingrich, on the other hand, not only has the experience of a sharp-elbowed politician, he has direct, personal experience of such anonymous attacks. He'll likely handle the Obama attacks better than Cain is handling the current ones. Especially given Obama's changing level of credibility.

As to how he treats the women in his life, I offer two things about that: the only things I've seen substantiated are that he's divorced two wives, and I think he began affairs with subsequent wives while still married to the preceding ones. The first is unfortunate; the second is reprehensible.

However, he's been married to his current wife for a potful of years. I believe, and I think you believe, that people can change, can grow up, and more importantly, they can rehabilitate themselves or be rehabilitated. I lean toward the rehabilitation until I see something both concrete and credible to the contrary.

Besides, we're never going to have an angel for a governor, and Gingrich wouldn't be the first badly flawed President we've had that governed well in our hour of need.

Given the damage being done our country today, I'd give serious consideration to Satan over Obama.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

I quite like him; he's the biggest reason for my late-life conversion to Republicanism. What I don't like is his occasional foray into twaddle like AGW, which I attribute to a fatal desire to play with the Cool Intellectual Kids. His flaky marital behavior makes me wonder how firmly he stands on his convictions -- but he's been reliably conservative on most issues for a long time now.

But the choices this year don't look like they're stacking up to be great. If Gingrich got the nomination, I'd support him with enthusiasm.

Grim said...

It's true that we must choose from those who are placed in nomination. Gingrich by that standards is better than most; and I would like him, too, if it weren't evident that he has shown disloyalty to those closest to him. He is otherwise interesting, intelligent, and personable; I generally enjoy listening to him present ideas. Honor tells, however.

But perhaps Mr. Hines is right, and he has found redemption. I wonder how one could tell that from our position, though, even if it were true.

E Hines said...

I wonder how one could tell that from our position, though, even if it were true.

We can't. In fact, once there's been a breach of integrity, we can never be sure again. All we can do is note the past, observe behavior since that past, and, ultimately, make a leap of faith, if behavior since that past makes the leap at least plausible.

Eric Hines

Dad29 said...

...which still lack substantiation of any sort. Cain's errors here are those of a political neophyte,...

The more I see of Cain, the less he's a real candidate. Fuggedabout the 'harassment' stuff, and look at what IS documented. Even discounting the foreign-affairs gaffes, we still have someone who stepped into it hard over public-employee unionization AND whose campaign has some very serious problems with IRS/FEC financing issues.

I can no longer take him seriously. Likeable? Yup. But no clue on important matters.

rcl said...

An aide of Newt's when he was elected Speaker told a story about helping him move into his new offices. The biggest task was moving the multiple dozens of banker's boxes with "Newt's Ideas". They were organized for potential value from So-So to Great.

A couple of our So Cal conservatives who have spoken on the subject respect Newt's energy and brains but don't have much good to say of his leadership. He's a brilliant idea man who was a better Whip than he was a Speaker.

I still remember his Health Tour of the Northeast with Hillary. For all his skill and smarts he's actually the most inside The Beltway guy on that stage. He brags that he balanced the budget out of the House every year. Of course he knows that's only true because Social Security income is dishonestly scored as a general fund credit. He and the GOP had their chance to fix it. Why didn't he? I don't trust him to do what's necessary; reduce Federal power over domestic affairs.

Of the GOP only Perry, Cain, Bachman and Paul intend to do that. Dismantling DC power is the centerpiece of Perry's attempt at a rebound. Unless there's a draft Palin movement he's the strongest 10th Amendment candidate.