Showdown in Sioux City
I’m really looking forward to the Fox News Iowa Debate on December 15 in Sioux City.
Really looking forward to it, because Romney has to go after Newt big time. He can’t leave it to Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann. It’s Tim Pawlenty time if he doesn’t do it, and do it successfully.
But I doubt he can. Because Newt is too good at rolling with the punches and turning a negative into a positive by turning not to name calling, but to history.
Newt did it to Glenn Beck the other day on the issue of whether Newt was a progressive in the Teddy Roosevelt tradition; Newt gave Beck a history lesson on Roosevelt.
And when Romney seeks to paint Newt as a career politician and someone who doesn’t understand the economy, Newt will respond by mocking the notion:
Newt looks like he’s having fun. Don’t underestimate the power of fun.
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If he’s gone to give “history lessons,” Newt had better bone up. TR did not morph into a “big government progressive” between his presidency and his 1912 third party run. TR was always a “progressive,” although that term meant something very different than it does today and TR would probably have thought of himself as a “reformer.” Indeed, he was a progressive reformer during his time as a civil service commissioner, New York police commissioner and Governor of New York. It was then that he formed tight bonds with such people as muckraker Jacob Riis and social welfare enthusiast Jane Adams.
GOP boss and big corporation booster Mark Hanna persuaded President William McKinley to tap TR as VP candidate in 1900 to get him out of the way. McKinley was shot, and TR spent the next nine and a half years splitting his time between building American global power and blasting trusts, Wall Street and rich industrialists.
William Howard Taft was a TR protege, and TR promoted him to the GOP as his successor, vouching to the GOP progressives that Taft was a reliable progressive, just like him. (While there were progressives of a sort in the Democratic Party, too, because that party was dominated by the Jim Crow South and corruot urban machines, the GOP was home for most of the reform minded.)
Taft’s presidency was a huge disappointment to TR. Taft failed to follow through on many of TR’s initiatives and was more likely to hang out with rich industrialists than rail against them. By 1910, TR was furious with Taft but still reluctant to take him on because he loathed Democrats (especially William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson). He gradually came around to the view that Taft had to go precisely because he had failed to keep faith with TR’s progressivism. His first public step — a warning salvo, if you will, was his New Nationalism speech in Kansas, which was packed with stuff even we would find a bit radical.
Thus was born the Progressive Party as a vehicle for TR to carry forward his vision for America. Early on, TR believed he could beat Taft and Wilson. He miscalculated about that but shed no tears for having ousted Taft.
There is no “which TR” about it. TR was the same guy with the same principles — and Mr. Historian ought to know that.
Glenn Beck was not about to lean hard on Newt over this and probably is no better informed.
But it is yet another example of how Newt jusy bloviates. He is not the smartest guy in the room. He just sounds that way. Inevitably, he will make some doozy of a mistake about something people care about.
Newt gave Beck a history lesson? Ha Ha. thanks for the laugh, I needed it today! He is a bloviating fool and all he did, IMHO, was blah blah blah.. not answer the question. Wow! With blind allegiance you know subscribe to the Bible of Newt, I listened to the interview and I did not feel that Newt, or Beck for that matter, did a very good job. I was left with many questions unanswered.
That is a great segment, fun to watch. And it really ends up showing the difference between a candidate like Mitt and Newt.
Gingrich gets what would otherwise be a tough question, and he doesn’t freak out one bit – he answers, honestly, with a causal feel that shows he is confident enough in reality to not worry about overly impressing us with mundane details in every single answer he gives.
Mitt, and better yet, Obama, would be stumbling all over themselves – first likely physically showing they were rattled by a tough question, then almost certainly giving some semi-meaningful stats (of unknown relevance or skewing) while simultaneously trying to skirt around the topic as much as possible with the answer. Newt just embraces the question, and knowing he has in fact actually grown the economy before, doesnt even bother getting into the boring details of the actual results but instead makes it fun and personal.
I see it kind of like this. Say you’re watching a baseball game and you have two guys in the booth. One is a big time stat guy, the other an ex big-league pitcher. They get posed a question of something like say “How would you get Alex Rodriguez out.” The stat guy will obviously start running through all the possibilities in his head and give a very technical remark something to the effect of “well, he struggles with low and outside and will chase sliders in the dirt after a setup fastball about a third of the time so I would probably go that direction and hope he doesn’t catch hold of one” while the actual pitcher will often give something like “man, I struck him out 3 times straight with my Fastball in the only game I faced him. Right down the pike; pure heat. Of course he took me yard with a walk-off moon-shot in the bottom of the ninth, but I so had his number those other times.”
Its just the air of “look, we are all aware of the fact I know what I am doing” against a “well let me try to prove to you that I know what I am doing” that makes all the difference in the world when it can be injected. One you want to listen to because he is going to make it fun or interesting at the same time, one you sometimes dread listening to because its quite likely going to be as much a chore as an answer.
Wait, this is the same Newt that hasn’t yet completed the process to get his name on the ballot in Ohio? and failed to do so in Missouri[*]?
Organization, Newt. To paraphrase Biden, it’s a big effin’ deal.
[*] not necessarily a big deal because the delegates will be selected via caucus this go-round.
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