Saturday, November 12, 2011

David Warren: The Republican dark horse

In his latest column for the Ottawa Citizen, David Warren bases his commentary on the paradox that the proof Sarah Palin was the cream of the Tea Party crop lies in her decision not to run for president:
She is a grown woman, very far from a narcissist. She understood that her candidacy would be counter-productive, and she put party and country ahead of her ambitions. I will continue watching her over the long run, because I think she is among those rare politicians who, even through the daily persiflage, fake scandal, and genuine controversy, continues to learn and grow.

This is just what politicians fail to do, and why our dying cult of youth has in turn so failed them. We need politicians from outside the goldfish bowl. Those who have spent most of their lives inside, cannot do much growing. Their attention is kept focused on the sound-bite battles, and the markets for political pork. Often they weren't such impressive young people to begin with; but whether or not, their intellectual and spiritual development is arrested by political careerism.
Warren examines the the announced GOP presidential candidates and finds than lacking:
Except Newt Gingrich.

Here is another politician who has grown. He has done so since he held the speakership of the House of Representatives, when he advanced all the policies that made the Clinton presidency appear outwardly successful - the welfare reform, the balanced budget, deregulations, and other administrative reforms - all achieved by dexterity and persistence over Clinton's vetowielding opposition, then finally appropriated by Clinton when it appeared they were winners.


With remarkable, and admirable candour, he claims to have matured. His Catholic conversion is not irrelevant to this; he has risen out of himself, as a political operator, and sees the landscape in a more elevated way. He does not quit, but will not play posturing games to win.

I think he has been steadily rising thanks to the perception that he is the one full adult on the debating platform. He doesn't take cheap shots, is consistently civil, and is prepared to go into knowledgeable detail well beyond the 30-second time allocations.

He sounds like the smartest candidate, because he is. His knowledge is both historically deepest, and geographically broadest: he has by far the best grasp of foreign policy issues, which are vital to the whole western world.

On balance, I think he is the anti-Obama, and would do the best job of exposing Obama's weaknesses and failures in campaign. And from what I can see, his party is beginning to understand that.
Sarah Palin always said that if she decided to run for president, hers would be an unconventional campaign which relied more on grassroots organizers than hired political guns. Interestingly, this is exactly the sort of campaign Gingrich has run since a number of staffers deserted him en masse to return to work for Rick Perry (they had worked on his 2010 gubernatorial campaign).

It is also telling that the same old usual Republican suspects who attacked Gov. Palin relentlessly for three years have recently turned their poison pens on Gingrich as his rises in the polls. David Frum, Kathleen Parker, Jennifer Rubin and Ann Coulter have each attacked the former Speaker recently.

Gingrich and Palin are quite different political figures for two different generations. But they have one key compelling characteristic in common. Both are Reagan conservatives. Which helps explain why your Palin-supporting has expanded his horizons to also back Newt Gingrich.

- JP

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