Gingrich vs. Romney: the debate continues

Below are comments from readers responding to the two previous entries (here and here) on Gingrich and Romney.

Mark Jaws writes:

You wrote: “Gingrich, by the way, has never struck me as intelligent per se; he strikes me as a man who throws out stuff.”

I work in counterterrorism intelligence analysis. Some of the tools which intelligence analysts have at their disposal are exceptionally cognitively demanding and require viewing in three dimensions—hence the reason for the military’s screening of personnel before entering the intelligence field. Thus, we are not as diverse as other fields. One such very complex data manipulating tool is “Starlight,” by Batelle. Several years ago Newt Gingrich visited my work site at Fort Belvoir and was given the customary “gee-whiz-this-looks-like-cool-stuff” briefing offered to most VIPs. The gentleman who briefed Gingrich is a friend of mine with whom I currently carpool. He is the Intelligence Community’s premier user of Starlight and in certain endeavors (such as connecting particular dots of terrorist networks) my friend and his partner are recognized as truly “the ones.” Instead of nodding approvingly during the briefing and moving on as 90 percent of VIPs would, Newt asked pointed questions and began to engage my friend. Newt then sat down with my friend for an additional 45 minutes and not only discussed Starlight but how it fit into other developing technologies and how they could be used to move beyond the intelligence arena. Newt Gingrich is brilliant. He gets things. He may be off-beat, he may be lacking in discipline at times, but I feel he has come under greater scrutiny among conservatives than most. If he can tame his worst instincts, he will be a great candidate. And as far as Islam goes, we unfortunately dwell in a political environment where the bare, naked, unvarnished truth about the religion of peace cannot be spoken—yet.

LA replies:

To clarify, what I meant was that, when I encounter someone who I think is very smart, I say to myself, “That is a very smart person.” Over the years, whenever I’ve watched or read Gingrich, I have never said to myself, “He is very smart.” When I first saw Romney give speeches in 2007, I said to myself, “He is very smart.” I’m not denying that Gingrich is smart and has accomplished noteworthy things. The Contract with America was a well thought out electoral strategy, and he deserves lasting historical credit for the amazing 1994 victory. But I personally have never had the experience of thinking of Gingrich as being very smart per se. The main impression he always makes on me is not that he is smart, but that he is an overheated gasbag.

Taking the other side, it must always be repeated, being very smart means having a high ability to process information; it is not the same as having good understanding. Romney, for example, has emphatically stated that jihadism is an entirely different entity from Islam. So the man I call the most intelligent man in American politics surpasses even the usual idiocy of American politicians on the subject of Islam.

James P. writes:

You wrote: “That’s a very inapt comparison [of Romney to Dole and McCain]. Dole and McCain were brain dead. Romney is the smartest man in national politics in memory.”

I don’t agree that McCain and Dole were brain dead. Their problem was that their determination to pander to moderates, their unwillingness to attack their liberal enemy, and their barely concealed contempt for conservatives rendered them politically ineffectual. Romney has exactly the same problems and will lose for exactly the same reason, regardless of how smart he is on paper. Indeed, his apparent inability to profit from the examples of Dole and McCain indicates that he is not all that smart politically.

LA replies:

I was NOT saying that Romney is just smart on paper. Unlike some, I have never used credentials as a basis for saying how smart someone is. I base my evaluation of a person’s intelligence on what experience about a person, on what he says, his performance. And I repeat that Romney is the smartest man (especially in terms of reasoning ability) in national politics in memory.

Of course, what I said does not by itself refute James’s point that Romney is a typical Republican moderate unable to take the fight to the Democrats.

James P. writes:

Carol Iannone writes:

“You are so right about Gingrich not necessarily being that smart. He always has an answer for things, so people think he’s smart.”

He’s certainly smarter than the other candidates who have demonstrated themselves unable to answer predictable questions effectively.

Paul M. writes:

James N. writes,

Obama will win reelection UNLESS the white “independent” and white working class voters change their minds about who he is and what he’s trying to do.

My view is the exact opposite. Obama will lose reelection UNLESS the white “independent” and white working class voters are forced to choose between him and an erratic, obese, amoral, liberal, internationalist buffoon like Newt.

LA replies:

Clever. :-)

Steve R. (who sent the Don Feder article) writes:

You say,

“The real question is: who is more likely to win. Can Feder plausibly argue that Gingrich is more likely to win than Romney?”

I have two contradictory thoughts about that question.

If it’s the most important question then what’s important is the Lucianne quote you cited in your previous entry and Feder’s point that Romney, without napalm and flamethrower, will not sufficiently fire up the right to win the battle.

On the other hand, if Jay Cost is correct and if the Rasmussen poll is correct, the one that shows anti-Obama sentiment to be quite strong in the 12 swing states , then it’s not about who is more likely to beat Obama—either of them will.

If that is the case then it’s about their positions and their effectiveness as leaders. I completely agree with your assessments of Gingrich’s unreliability and instability. Nevertheless, he was relatively effective with his “Contract with America.”

Regarding their positions: Newt has risen from the ashes for one reason only. In the debates, he is giving the liberal media, Obama and liberalism a black eye. The right is aching to have each of them bluntly confronted with the truth. Up to now, Newt has been the only candidate effectively to perform that task and he has skyrocketed in the polls for doing so.

Of course, Bachmann has all the right positions but her latest performance, especially with her “Win Win Win” plan, was positively embarrassing. The audience didn’t even offer polite applause.

Tonight should be interesting. Newt will, no doubt, experience another pile-on. All the negative punditry is beginning to take it’s toll on his popularity. He will need a big win tonight to stem that tide.

LA replies:

I plan to watch the entire debate tonight. I also want to watch last Saturday night’s debate. I think it’s crazy to have a political debate on a Saturday night.

I did not see the Bachmann “Win Win Win” presentation. If that was in the previous debate I’ll see it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 15, 2011 03:59 PM | Send

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