Steyn on Gingrich

Notwithstanding the harm Mark Steyn has done to conservatism with his “serious” writings, especially on the subject of Islam, he remains a brilliant humorist, and his article at National Review on the rise of “this most fundamentally adverbial of candidates,” Newt Gingrich, is one of his best.

It’s also almost 3,000 words long. So here are a few highlights:

  • On the eve of Iowa it seems the Republican base’s dream candidate is a Clinton-era retread who proclaims himself a third Roosevelt, with Taft’s waistline and twice as many ex-wives as the first 44 presidents combined….

  • I’m not sure I’m quite ready to acknowledge Newt as the “definer of civilization,” but he is certainly the teacher of the new rules of primary season. Consultants, money, endorsements are for schlubs. The daring candidate is out there running on portentous adverbs: In the land of Cain and Perry, the polysyllabic man is king.

  • As Gingrich laid it out to Newsweek, “‘You take brain science, you take personal and Social Security savings, you take offering the poor the opportunity to work and have a paycheck instead of food stamps, you take Lean Six Sigma’—a management-efficiency doctrine, his latest fascination—‘and suddenly you have a Gestalt that is in many ways conservative, but in many ways very moderate.’”

    “You have a Gestalt”? Would Rick Perry have a Gestalt? Or Herman Cain? Romney might, but the consultants would have advised against mentioning it after it tested badly with the focus group. Bush was never in danger of having a Gestalt, nor Dole. And, with Newt’s Gestalt, brain science and Social Security savings accounts are only the beginning! You take the repeal of Obamacare, you take a 12.5 percent corporate-tax rate, you take community illegal-immigrant-legalization boards, you take airborne lasers and fire them at North Korea, you take the oceans and pump nitrogen into them to end global warming, you take Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and apply it as a business model to the Congressional Budget Office, you take Deepak Chopra on deep-pan pizza, and suddenly you have a candidate who knows the difference between Gestalt and Gstaad in a way that is kind of conservative but also very…

  • Few politicians are more incisive at identifying the absurdities of America’s bloated, sclerotic leviathan…. But no other candidate on the right shares the boundless confidence that Leviathan will work just swell if only Knut the Great is there to command it. For Republicans, this is not someone who is both “very conservative” and “very moderate,” but someone who is potentially the worst of all worlds: a man who embraces big-government solutions to health care, climate change, and all the rest, but who gets damned as a mean-spirited vindictive right-wing hater

As suggested in that last paragraph, there is a serious—and valid—theme to Steyn’s article: if Gingrich wins Iowa, which he well may do, he, with his love of big government if only he is the one commanding it, could very likely win the GOP nomination. Here is Steyn’s conclusion:

So what does that leave? Tonally, his confident swagger is more appealing to the Republican base than Romney’s unctuous aw-shucks wholesomeness—just as John McCain’s maverickiness was more appealing than Romney last time around. And we know how that worked out for the GOP. The Dems are confident that this is a gift from the heavens: The Stupid Party is stupid enough to put up a scowly, jowly fat guy whose name is a byword for everything from the Nineties Mr. and Mrs. Moderate don’t want to revive.

But Newt wouldn’t be where he is right now if the conventional wisdom were all that wise. It’s easy to dismiss the futurological mumbo-jumbo of his accumulated brainstorms—“the Triangle of American Progress,” “the Four Great Truths,” “the Five Pillars of American Civilization,” “the Five Pillars of the 21st Century,” “the Nine Zones of Creativity,” “the Fourteen Steps to Renewing American Civilization”—except that right now he’s heading for the nomination and Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels aren’t. The Nine Zones and Fourteen Steps have been distilled to the One Singular Sensation: Newt lui-même. The SAS, the British special forces, have a motto: “Who dares wins.” Unlike Mitt, Newt dares—and he may yet win. As the old Dem bumper stickers used to say, “Newt Happens.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 19, 2011 11:29 AM | Send

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