Mike Kueber's Blog

January 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich as Nixon-esque

Filed under: People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:20 pm
Tags: ,

While listening to Savage Nation on the radio yesterday, I heard Savage’s guest host provide a cursory summary of good things about three Republican presidential candidates – Rick Santorum (social conservative), Ron Paul (constitutionally sound), and Mitt Romney (knows how to fix the economy).  But when he turned to Newt Gingrich, he provided a long list of significant flaws, the most damning being that he was unelectable and the least conservative of the bunch.

Concerning Gingrich’s unelectability, the evidence is clear that a majority of the voters have an unfavorable opinion of him.  According to a recent article in the Washington Examiner, Gingrich badly trails Mitt Romney and President Obama in favorability ratings:      

  • Not every poll releases their full results, so here are the most recent favorability results I could find for Obama, Romney, and Newt.

Fox News, 1/12-1/14:

Obama, fav/unfav, 51%/46%, +5

Romney, fav/unfav, 45%/38%, +7

Gingrich, fav/unfav, 27%/56%, -29

 CBS/NYT, 1/12-1/17:

 Obama, fav/unfav, 38%/45%, -7

 Romney, fav/unfav, 21%/35%, -14

 Gingrich, fav/unfav, 17%/49%, -32

 PPP, 1/13-1/17:

 Obama, app/dis, 47%/50%, -3

 Romney, fav/unfav, 35%/53%, -18

 Gingrich, fav/unfav, 26%/60%, -34

Concerning the Savage host’s “least conservative” insight, that struck me as odd because Gingrich has strenuously argued that he was one of the original Reagan conservatives while attacking Romney as a Massachusetts moderate.  But upon further reflection, it occurred to me Gingrich’s politics are more reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s than Ronald Reagan’s.  Gingrich’s dalliances with cap-and-trade and health-insurance mandates reveal a pragmatic politician like Nixon, who formed the EPA and endorsed affirmative action and the ERA.  Like Nixon, Gingrich talks conservative to his base, but then governs pragmatically. 

Since few ideas are original, I wondered if anyone else had written about the Gingrich-Nixon similarity.  Sure enough, just a couple of days ago, Jon Meacham had written, “Why Newt is like Nixon.”  Meacham’s article focuses on their similarities in personality and psychology, while I’m thinking that their politics are similar.  Their objective of their politics is not conservative vs. liberal, but rather doing whatever is necessary to gain and retain power. 

During the first Florida debate, Mitt Romney accused Gingrich of resigning in disgrace as House speaker.  That sounds eerily similar to words often used in connection with Richard Nixon – i.e., the only president who resigned in disgrace.  I have always been a big fan of Richard Nixon, and so I don’t think Gingrich’s similarities to Nixon’s politics is a bad thing.  But the fatal flaw with Gingrich’s candidacy is his unpopularity.  Nixon may have been depicted by the media as unpopular, but he had the support of the “silent majority,” and shortly before the Watergate mess occurred, he was reelected in 1972 by one of the greatest landslides in American history.

Newt Gingrich is no Richard Nixon.


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