Words, Mere Words: Newt Gingrich Speaks Well. But Is He Smart?
November 15, 2011
If Newt Gingrich's career in public service proves anything, it is that he will never be caught saying “Oops.” Gingrich is currently rising to frontrunner status in the Republican presidential primary largely because he's willing to talk about any subject at any time, is ready to do so with some measure of linguistic facility, and has sufficient self-regard to exploit every opportunity to demonstrate his rhetorical command.
Let’s Get Real, No One’s Eliminating Any Cabinet Departments
November 11, 2011
Rick Perry’s “Oops” on Wednesday joined the small canon of legendary phrases from presidential debates, right up there with “You’re no Jack Kennedy.” His inability to remember one of the three government agencies he would promise to eliminate as president, together with his smirking indifference to whether it even mattered, was probably the final moment of a candidacy that was already doomed by his lack of preparation for the national stage. But does it matter?
Wait, the Republican Debates Have Actually Been Really Informative
November 11, 2011
The clichéd phrase “debate season” is inescapable. There was a Republican debate on CNBC Wednesday night. Tomorrow will see another shootout, this one down in South Carolina. But these events seem to have won few fans. They are being mocked and denounced by everyone from Bill O’Reilly to MSNBC contributors.
A Modest Proposal: Why We Have Nowhere Near Enough Republican Debates
November 10, 2011
After last night’s spectacle, the American public—or at the least, American pundits—would be forgiven for demanding (or whimpering for) an end to the litany of Republican debates. After all, they’re unedifying, agonizing, somewhat grotesque, and offer little of substance aside from a terrifying glimpse into the dark, pitiless recesses of the Republican soul. All of that is clear enough. But allow for a modest proposal: Rather than fewer debates, what we need is more. Many more.
November 10, 2011
Every politician needs a base. Mitt Romney has the business establishment. Ron Paul has libertarians. Rick Santorum has social conservatives. Michele Bachmann had Tea Partiers for a while, before Herman Cain won them over. But who’s behind Newt Gingrich? ’90s nostalgics? People with a penchant for shoddily researched history? His rise in the polls—from about 6 percent to 12 percent—has only made the question more intriguing.
October 26, 2011
During a Republican presidential forum in South Carolina on September 5, the conservative Princeton political philosopher Robert George asked the candidates a provocative question. George, the intellectual architect of the campaign against gay marriage and abortion rights, has long argued that Congress should declare war on the Supreme Court by passing a federal ban on abortion that clearly violates Roe v. Wade. Would the candidates be willing to sign such a ban—intentionally provoking a constitutional crisis?
The Heritage Heresy
October 20, 2011
Overshadowed by the immigration rumble between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in the Las Vegas debate was a string of statements that sounded awfully heretical -- a sign, perhaps, that economic anxiety and even the Occupy Wall Street protests are poking ever the tiniest holes in the bubble of GOP orthodoxy. First, there was Rick Santorum noting for the second straight debate that western Europe now has higher rates of upward mobility than the land of Horatio Alger -- and this time he didn't even blame this on Barack Obama.
Pre-Debate Post-Debate Analysis
September 22, 2011
To: Editor From: TN Re: Republican debate I've got a social engagement tonight and I know the copy desk doesn't like to work late. So here's my post-debate analysis. The debate will air on Fox News from 9 to 11 p.m., so please do not post before 11 p.m. Repeat: do not post before 11 p.m. We don't want to give readers the idea that the press knows what to say even before the candidates take the stage.
Republicans Used to at Least Talk About Poverty. What Changed?
September 21, 2011
The Republican Party has never been confused with a nonprofit charity, but it was not so long ago that elements of the GOP enjoyed displaying a little human tenderness. Jack Kemp, the former football star and vice presidential nominee, is probably best known for his supply-side philosophy, but as a Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he brought what The New York Times said was “more zeal to America's poverty problems than any national politician since Robert Kennedy.” Then there was George W. Bush.
Why Pawlenty and Bachmann Both Need a Win in Ames
August 12, 2011
Thursday night’s Fox News/Washington Examiner GOP candidate debate featured more combative exchanges between conservative journalists and candidates than we’d seen thus far, and some fireworks between the contenders themselves. The debate-point winner was probably Newt Gingrich, who bashed his media tormenters effectively and was generally smooth and fluid, and the strategic winner was probably Mitt Romney, who had some good moments and again escaped any serious damage from his rivals.