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The Problem with Newt

I suppose Newt Gingrich might thank Rand Paul and Richard Blumenthal, who took up nearly all the political oxygen and the “politicians hang themselves with their own words” stories. Had those individuals not been dominating the headlines, more attention would have been paid to Gingrich’s own comments, comparing liberal Democrats to the Nazis:

“In the 20th Century, America fought and defeated Nazism, fascism, imperialism and communism — four existential threats to our survival,” he wrote. “In this century, America is facing two different kinds of threats, though no less grave.”

The first threat the Gingrich listed was “non-state terrorist networks to kill Americans.”

“But even more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists is a second threat that is right here at home,” he wrote. “It is an ideology so fundamentally at odds with historic American values that it threatens to undo the cultural ethics that have made our country great. I call it ‘secular-socialism.’”

Yikes. No, Obamaism isn’t worse than the ideology of jihadist murderers. And the Nazi analogy shouldn’t be bandied about.

It was, alas, a reminder that Gingrich, while creative, smart, and rock solid on many issues that conservatives and Israel’s supporters hold dear, has a penchant for saying wild things. As Steven Calabresi wrote, after praising Gingrich’s ability to unite “economic, social, and foreign policy conservatives”:

The Democrats are not Nazis and socialists, however, and to succeed Gingrich has to show more self control than he did in 1995 right after Republicans took control of the House.

In a very real sense, Rand Paul is a warning to Republicans as they begin to consider 2012 contenders. Freshness, dynamism, and creativity have to be balanced by other qualities. We will — of course — be talking about the presidency, and in order to dislodge a sitting president, the Republican nominee will need to be sober, not prone to gaffes, and project the sense that he or she is worthy of the public’s trust. Americans took a flyer on Obama and, I suspect, will not be in the mood to roll the dice on an unpredictable challenger.



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