01.27.2012 0

Waiting for an Anti-Newt

Newt Gingrich in Florida

Photo Credit: Paul Thurman

By David Bozeman — As a political junkie, my biggest wish was always for someone to put elite-media commentators and debate moderators in their place.  Now that Juan Williams and John King have both been savaged by the agile tongue of the great anti-Romney, I solemnly ask — is it too late to take that wish back?

A bold, even audacious conservative statesman is certainly long overdue.  Speaker Newt Gingrich’s outbursts, refreshing at first, now bear the mark of grandstanding, not unlike the proverbial snake oil salesman who has perfected his pitch and finally captured the crowd (and their pocketbooks).  Discourse that was meant to be Reagan-esque now sounds calculated and predictable.

As long as Romney held front-runner status, he constantly wrestled with such charges as “conservative-lite” and, most notably, “flip-flopper.”  Now that the momentum has shifted back to Newt, he should have to, and just as often, defend his tenure at Freddie Mac, his support of President Bush’s prescription drug bill, his own calls for individual health insurance mandates, his frequent claims of man-made global warming and his support of the ultra-liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava in a New York US congressional race over Tea Party favorite Douglas Hoffman.  As a loyal debate viewer, watching Mitt flounder on stage, defending Romney-care, has grown tedious.  We know the deal by now.  It’s your turn in the hot seat, Newt.

Sometime in the late 1990’s, I bought the Speaker’s To Renew America from a local bookstore’s discount bin.  Published in 1995, just after he assumed the House speakership in a Republican landslide, Renew is a good, though generic, conservative blueprint for America in the 20th Century.  It was recently headed for my local charity store for a donation when I decided a quick perusal might be in order, given that Newt may be the only man standing between Obama and a second term.  On Page 36, discussing American military resolve, Gingrich refers to FDR as “probably the greatest president of the 20th Century.”

You read that correctly.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  This is big.  This is not some difference in taste or temperament, this is about worldview and a philosophy of leadership and the role of government.  Wouldn’t most conservatives have given Reagan that honor?  Heck, why not Eisenhower? But FDR, one of the leading architects of statism, whose very policies and stranglehold on America’s political psyche Reagan fought much of his life to undo?

FDR?  And then there’s Newt’s notorious affection for another Roosevelt, one of the progressive movement’s leading luminaries, Teddy.

An explanation of his preferences would be far more illuminating than another full-frontal attack on Bain Capital.  Every Republican assumes the Reagan legacy when necessary, but the Gipper proved that leadership entails focus, consistency and a steady hand.  If the former Speaker can wage a general election campaign as successfully as he has recently debated, then the conservative movement may well have found its new statesman.

But now is the time to choose between deed and rhetoric that, though rousing, amounts to little more than the calculated ire of Washington’s most prevalent beast, the walking ego.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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