President Newton Leroy Gingrich. How does that sound? Roll the words around in your mouth for a bit. Could you get used to that? It’s a cheeky, full-bodied taste, to be sure.
With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the GOP’s latest deus, opting to remain in his machina, and Sarah Palin sparing us the shrillness and acrimony that would accompany her candidacy, Republicans have come to the bracing realization that their current crop of presidential contenders is as good as things will get.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the safe choice with a haircut you can set your watch by, has reached a plateau of 25 percent in the polls, which is right about his high point from 2008. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, coming off a monster fundraising quarter even as he massively underperforms on the policy front, may once again give credence to the adage that money isn’t everything.
And Herman Cain, everyone seems to agree, is just so doggone likeable. As this column has stated, Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan is the boldest proposal put forward by any GOP candidate, and would be gangbusters for the economy. But it is not sensible for Republicans to nominate someone who lacks even basic comprehension of foreign affairs, as Cain has demonstrated, notwithstanding the strength of his economic platform.
The rest of the field — Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Gary Johnson, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul — may soldier on for some months, and might add to the policy discussion, but none of them is going to win.
And then there’s Newt. We have described him as yesterday’s man in a hurry, and the former speaker of the House has shown remarkable energy and determination, even as folks count him out. Indeed, months after much of his staff defected to the Perry camp, Gingrich has offered stronger and more specific policy proposals in debate answers than the Texas governor has put forward in his entire campaign.
Recently, Newt unveiled his 21st Century Contract with America, a rhetorical and philosophical follow-on from the 1994 plan that led congressional Republicans to victory. This new compact includes fundamental tax reform, offering people a choice between a flat tax with few deductions and the current system, while eliminating taxes on capital gains and estates, and reducing corporate rates to 12.5%. It repeals Obamacare, reins in the judiciary, and offers clear steps to end economy-choking regulations and legislation such as Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.
There are weaknesses and omissions — for example, Gingrich does not call for the outright abolition of the police-state boondoggle that is the Department of Homeland Security — but all things considered, it is the sort of platform one expects from a serious, freedom-minded presidential candidate, and its enactment would be an appropriate denouement to a political cycle in which Americans awoke to the self-evident truth that their government belongs to them, not the other way around.
If Romney or Perry had the conservative instincts or policy understanding to advance such a plan, the Republican nomination, and probably the presidential election, would be in their pocket already. But they don’t, and that’s why we’re talking about Newt.