A superficial impression

I saw the last 45 minutes of the debate tonight, and if I left aside aside everything I know about Gingrich and Romney, and just looked at them stand there and speak, the impression I would have is that either of them would make a highly credible presidential nominee or president.

However, after the debate (or the “conversation,” as the pompous Brian Williams called it) was over, NBC replayed an exchange from earlier in the evening in which Romney said that Gingrich “resigned in disgrace” from the speakership. That is false. Gingrich did not resign in anything like disgrace. There had been unhappiness in the Republican caucus with his leadership, and when the House Republicans lost several seats in the 1998 elections, Gingrich did what traditional parliamentary leaders commonly do when their parties lose elections: he stepped aside.

Romney needs to be more aggressive, but not by telling lies about his opponents.

UPDATE: And here’s another superficial reaction on my part. Readers have wondered why I am so dismissive of Santorum, who is, after all, a social conservative, which Romney and Gingrich are not. The fact is, Santorum’s personality (either whiny and self-righteous, or rambling, tiresome, and lacking any gravitas, or all those together) so turns me off that I find myself unwilling to contemplate him, let alone contemplate supporting him.

- end of initial entry -

January 24

Andrew E. writes:

I would suggest that you to watch the first 20 or 30 minutes of the debate if you can. Brian Williams allowed Romney and Gingrich to have an extended sparring session to open the debate consisting mostly of Romney attacking Gingrich on his record as Speaker and his consulting work for Freddie Mac. I thought Gingrich withstood the onslaught very well. During the exchange I felt Romney looked almost desperate as well as decidedly un-presidential. Gingrich is clearly the better debater and has Romney singing to his tune now.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to Gingrich during the primary process but I happened to turn on the television Saturday night just as Gingrich began his victory speech in South Carolina. I thought it an excellent speech. The man I saw speaking was someone who seemed to grasp the existential danger in which Obama and the left have placed this country (but alas, not the damage that plain old liberalism has done) and has decided to run for president to try and stop it. What is Romney’s reason for running? It seems to me his reason is simply that he understands he is a superb manager of human resources and there’s only one big executive prize left for him to win, so he wants to be president. I wonder if that is an unfair speculation.

I take those who criticize Gingrich at their word when they describe him as erratic and unstable. I’ve never followed him closely and wasn’t interested in politics when he was Speaker. But I wonder if it’s possible that Obama’s radicalism has managed to focus Gingrich’s mind in a way it hasn’t been before. I don’t know if he can win the general election, but I will be paying much closer attention to him going forward. His softness on immigration doesn’t bother me because I don’t see him vetoing any strong immigration bill a conservative Congress is able to pass.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 23, 2012 11:01 PM | Send

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