Monday, January 30, 2012

Palin, Newt, Mitt, and the GOP Establishment

This past weekend, former Alaskan Governor and VP candidate Sarah Palin, took to Facebook to provide not only an impassioned defense of GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, but to castigate the 'GOP Establishment' for their use of 'Alinksy' tactics against  Newt Gingrich.

The tactics and principles of the marxist Saul Alinsky are well detailed - the Obama campaign, with Barack Obama a trained community organizer of the Alinsky method leveraged these tactics and principles.  Key among these was the approach (as defined in David Horowitz's excellent source - Discover the Network profile of Alinsky)...
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it…. [T]here is no point to tactics unless one has a target upon which to center the attacks.” He held that the organizer’s task was to cultivate in people’s hearts a negative, visceral emotional response to the face of the enemy. “The organizer who forgets the significance of personal identification,” said Alinsky, “will attempt to answer all objections on the basis of logic and merit. With few exceptions this is a futile procedure.”
Sarah Palin's viewpoint is that the actions of Mitt Romney in the campaign to gain the GOP Presidential nomination are embracing the tactics of picking a target, freezing it, personalize it, and polarize it in this efforts to win the GOP Presidential nomination.  She also is holding those who are perceived to be the Republican Party Establishment, nearly all Romney supporters, are also doing the same in their efforts to demonstrate (or demonize) that Newt Gingrich is not the best candidate to be the Republican Presidential nominee and run against Barack Obama.

Newt Gingrich himself has been playing the victim card - complaining that his renewed run as the GOP front runner going into the last two weeks before the Iowa caucuses was derailed by massive negative and misrepresentative (Gingrich's claim) advertisements by both the Romney campaign and political action committees supporting Mitt Romney.  After rebounding on the basis of two very strong debate performances contrasting with sub-par Romney performances to gain a strong win in South Carolina, Gingrich has struggled in Florida.  Polls are now showing him in 2nd perhaps losing by as much as double digits.  Gingrich again is playing the victim card over the Romney and PAC negative advertisements about Gingrich's background, experience, and past positions.  He is again claiming that these are all false claims.  Adding to the turmoil was a rash of Republicans, supporting Romney, who directly challenged Gingrich's conservative credentials and his experience in Congress. 

This ultimately got to the point where Sarah Palin, who semi-endorsed Gingrich in South Carolina, and is also doing so in Florida, felt the need to attack the messengers for their attacks on Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich, throughout the efforts to play the victim card, was hardly just a victim.  He and his supporters have also been following and embracing 'Alinsky tactics' in his efforts to defeat Mitt Romney.  His advertisements, stump speeches, debate comments, and PAC also are working to 'pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it'.  Romney is denounced as a 'Massachusetts liberal' who endorses Obamacare because it was based on Romneycare.  He was attacked for his wealth.  He was attacked for his tenure at Bain over the companies that ultimately failed.  The Gingrich PAC advertisement / 28 minute hit piece was found to be profoundly inaccurate on even the basic facts.

The issue really isn't the use of Alinsky tactics.  Conservatives and the GOP have learned from having the Alinsky tactics used on them.  The Tea Party has as it's foundation many elements of Alinsky tactics.  The Tea Party represents the grassroots creation of 'Conservative Rules for Radicals' - and has been far more successful in their implementation of the Alinsky rules than any democrat or progressive grassroots effort. 

The Tea Party has out 'Alinsky'ed' the Alinsky Marxists / progressives of the left because the Tea Party, supporting center-right values draws from and reaches out to this predominately center-right country in a manner the hard left cannot.

In many ways, this race is the opposite contrast to the 2008 Democrat race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  This was also a divisive race until the Dems unified once Obama won the nomination.  That unification combined with the 'Anyone but Bush' mantra and propelled Obama to a win in November.  Today, with the poor performance of Obama, if the center-right of this country can unify behind the winner of the GOP nomination, the GOP stands a good chance to win the White House in November despite Obama's campaign skills and mainstream media assistance.

Who should win that nomination?

I am one of those conservatives who has some significant challenges with Newt Gingrich as the GOP nomination.  These go far beyond his use of Alinsky tactics to attack Romney.  It's not the tactic of picking a target, freezing it, personalizing it, and polarizing it - but my challenges with Gingrich do include some of that message he is using against Mitt Romney.

I was undecided until late last year when I came out for Romney as the best of the candidates remaining in the race. 

When Newt Gingrich started to attack Mitt Romney for his tenure at Bain, and his personal wealth, using the exact same language as the progressive left uses when they promote class warfare or try to demonize 'Wall Street' - that was where Gingrich 'jumped the shark'.  Since these attacks leading into Iowa, Gingrich has continued down that path with multiple attacks on Romney from the same viewpoint and positions as the progressive left.  That is not the act of a conservative.  We do not see Rick Santorum making these attacks from the progressive left.

Pelosi on a couch in front of the US Capital to promote policies to end man-made global warming one of his biggest mistakes, but when it comes to the progressive hyperbole around global warming and the use of that topic to promote wealth redistribution and anti-business policies, it's not a position of a conservative.

Gingrich castigates Romney over Romneycare, as well he should, but Gingrich also has taken positions like the one he took in 2009 which advocated the 'must carry health insurance' / individual mandate.  His argument detailed in this link is no different than the argument that Romney makes at the state level regarding Romneycare or Obama is advocating for Obamacare at the federal level.

There are many more cases likes these.  They can be cases of hypocrisy or cases of legitimately changing one's view.  If the latter, for the most part Romney has moved from the center to the center-right since being Governor of a liberal NE state - but Gingrich has moved from the right to the center / center-left on most of these.

Gingrich tries to paint himself as an Washington outsider - leaving Washington in 1999.  Before we take a hard look at his time in Washington prior to 1999, what has Gingrich primarily done since 1999?  He's worked as a consultant / think tank promoting major changes in policy and direction.  While Romney was working on the Winter Olympics, Gingrich was collecting $1.6 million as a consultant / lobbyist for Freddie and Fannie.  These NGO's were a major part of the cause of the 2008 housing collapse which precipitated the recession.  Do you recall Gingrich joining the Bush Administration trying to fight Chris Dodd and Barney Frank in working to reform Fannie / Freddie?  I don't.

During his tenure in Washington, Gingrich was part of the Reagan revolution for conservatives.  A part.  He was instrumental in building, with others, the Contract for America and the push for the 1994 midterm victory for the Republicans in Congress - gaining the first Republican house majority in decades.  He helped, in his speeches, and in the contract, articulate a grand vision to the voter that ran counter to the progressive record Bill Clinton delivered in his first 2 years in office.

I know several people who were employed as staffers for Republicans of that Congress.  They have told me first hand what Gingrich's leadership approach and style was like during his tenure as Speaker.  In the 'Establishment' attacks on Gingrich, we have many former Representatives from this Congress describe the Speaker's tenure in similar terms.

These reflect a person who cannot lead effectively.  He would get one big idea and vision and start down that path at 500 mph until he got the next big idea sometimes days or weeks later when he would shift to that new idea with the first left unfinished and without attention or focus.  This would continue even if damaged the efforts of the Republican caucus because that is part of the nature / personality of Gingrich.

How about Gingrich's inability to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot? Was that real leadership and an attention to detail needed to ensure tasks are done?  Did he see this process through?  Did he ensure that the rules were followed?  No to all of these.  It's an organizational and leadership failure.

As Gingrich notes, he was ultimately exonerated by the IRS for the ethical violations that were used as the method to remove him from being Speaker.  However, that does not reflect on the real problem that this event has regarding Gingrich.  The House of Representatives was a Republican majority.  Yet, an overwhelming bipartisan majority voted to punish him for his 'ethical' violations.  The issue wasn't ethics.  It was a quiet coup by Republicans in the caucus to remove from their leadership someone who was more of a problem than a benefit.  How many former and present members of Congress from this time have endorsed Newt?  Are they all part of the 'establishment'?

One of the challenges that many have with President Obama is the President's hubris and narcissism.  Of all of the GOP Presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich, brings as much if not more hubris and a belief of self-importance.  He is a very smart man with a strong grasp of history - but Gingrich's hubris and arrogance remind me far too much of  President Obama.  His mouth has been a liability for most of his career - and it remains one as he will make statements that generate problems for him - be it attacks from the left or advocating big government programs and initiatives (colony on the Moon) when the primary problem we face is related to the 15%+ real unemployment rate and $15.2 growing to $16.4 trillion national debt.

The main goals we need to achieve this November are:
  1. Maintain the GOP majority in the House
  2. Gain a GOP majority in the Senate
  3. Put a GOP President in the White House
When I look at a choice between a candidate who has a blend of executive government (Governor) and private business experience and one who has demonstrated poor judgment, a loose cannon who is all over the place on positions, a Washington insider, a leader who cannot lead, a visionary who cannot implement, attacks his opponents from the hard progressive left viewpoint, and has the hubris of a President Obama - I see a clear choice as to who to support and who will help deliver the three goals I need to achieve in November 2012.

Add to this an angry and frustrated candidate who is willing to invoke scorched earth on the GOP if he cannot win - being willing to damage achieving all of our three primary goals because his focus on himself and his anger / revenge - and I am even stronger in my opposition of Newt Gingrich as President.

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