Never at a loss for a historical analogy or insight, Newt Gingrich has reportedly described his stunning debacle in being deprived of a spot on the Virginia Republican primary ballot as a rerun of the catastrophe of Pearl Harbor. Though he’s undoubtedly mad about falling victim to Virginia’s onerous ballot qualification requirements, the former speaker isn’t necessarily comparing the state’s petition inspectors to the Japanese who treacherously attacked the U.S. fleet. Rather, he sees it as a case of a terrible defeat from which he will learn and rebound in the coming campaign as America did during the war in the Pacific. But unless he’s got the political equivalent of the aircraft carriers the Japanese failed to sink on December 7, 1941, this sort of talk is just more empty boasts from a campaign whose wheels may be about to come off again.
Gingrich’s organizational failure in Virginia is rightly seen as indicative of a key character flaw that has long dogged his career. He’s great at speeches and debates and promoting ideas, some of which conservatives like very much. But his campaign management style appears highly reminiscent of his largely incompetent leadership of the House of Representatives.
The New York Times published a fascinating story yesterday that ought to give plenty of fodder to Mitt Romney’s admirers as well as his detractors. The front-page feature seeks to examine the lessons that can be learned by examining Romney’s time at Harvard University in the 1970s when he simultaneously earned business and law degrees. The result is a portrait of an incredibly able and intelligent man focused on achievement and with keen analytic powers that made him a wild success in the world of finance. This sets him up as an ideal president in an age of economic uncertainty where the ability to understand the economy and how business works should be at a premium.
But what also comes across is that Romney was, and perhaps still is, a person without strong ideological convictions outside the realms of faith and family. The Harvard business program prizes case-by-case analysis and data research and, at least according to this article, rewards pragmatism and problem solving, not ideology. According to his former classmates and friends interviewed in the piece, that approach perfectly suited Romney’s personality. And it is exactly that trait that scares conservative Republicans who see him as a shape-shifting, soulless technocrat who cares nothing for the principles that guide their party.
I continue to be amazed and dismayed by the short-sightedness of the Turkish political class when it comes to dealing with the Armenian genocide. Case in point is Ankara’s outraged reaction to the French National Assembly passing a bill to make it “a crime to deny the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.”
Why does Turkey insist on poisoning its relations with important countries over this historical issue concerning something that happened nearly 100 years ago?