Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ranking the Republicans: 4) Newt Gingrich

This is the fourth article in a seven-part series ranking the Republican candidates for President. You can read the past articles in the series here:
5) Jon Huntsman, Jr.
6) Mitt Romney
7) Ron Paul

At last Saturday's debate, Michele Bachmann referred to Gingrich and Romney as "Newt-Romney." Although I believe that Gingrich and Romney do have enough differences of opinion to distinguish them from each other, Gingrich and Romney both fail in the area of consistency. Just like Romney, Gingrich is being forced to run from many of his past political statements.

Gingrich now calls cap-and-trade policy an "energy tax," but he supported it in the past as a means to curb man-made global warming. He now questions the existence of man-made global warming, despite his past affirmations of it. In 2008, he supported individual health insurance mandates; now he says they are unconstitutional. Even this year, he changed his opinion on Libya. First he stated that we should protect the citizens of Libya from Gaddafi and then, less than three weeks later, he stated that the US should not have been involved in the situation at all. As I mentioned when discussing Mitt Romney, there is a question about whether we will be electing the Gingrich that is currently campaigning or the Gingrich from the past decade.

However, Gingrich does have some very important strengths. His debate performances have shown that he is the most intelligent candidate, and he has shown an unmatched ability to think on his feet during the debates. Gingrich has shown that he is bright enough to solve complex problems and that he could definitely debate with Obama. However, Gingrich has another even more important characteristic.

Gingrich showed immense leadership during his years as Speaker of the House. He not only pushed many conservative policies through the House, but he also worked with President Clinton to see them enacted into law. Gingrich was able to see two large pieces of conservative legislation enacted: welfare reform and a balanced budget. This is two more pieces of legislation than President Bush enacted in six years with a Republican House and Senate. Although Gingrich has no executive experience, he does have experience negotiating with the Executive on behalf of the Congress.

Finally, I know many people are probably expecting to see a comment on Newt's "baggage," so here it is. While I do believe that cheating in one area of life makes it more likely that a person will cheat in other areas, I also understand the power of God to transform a person's life. The last (known) affair is over 12 years old, so unless a new allegation comes out, I see this as a non-issue, even if the only reason is that there are plenty of better reasons to argue against voting for Gingrich than his personal life.

Gingrich has the skills and the leadership necessary to be President, but like Mitt Romney, there are questions about what type of President he would be. His record in the House is certainly much more conservative than Mitt Romney's record as governor, but his statements since seem to indicate he has moved to the left. While I would gladly take Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney, I would much rather cast my vote for someone with a pure conservative record.

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