Hillary's favorite opponent?

Newsmax.com is very impressed (if not enamored) by Newt Gingrich, and declares him the winner of their recent online poll:

An Internet poll sponsored by NewsMax.com reveals that an overwhelming number of Americans -- nearly 7 in 10 respondents -- favor former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as their presidential candidate in 2008.
Here are the results:
1) What is your overall opinion of Newt Gingrich?
Favorable: 87 percent

Unfavorable: 10 percent

No Opinion: 3 percent

2) Is Newt Gingrich your candidate for president in 2008?
Yes: 68 percent

No: 32 percent

3) In the following field, who is your 2008 candidate?
John McCain: 2 percent

Condi Rice: 4 percent

Mike Huckabee: 2 percent

Mitt Romney: 6 percent

Rudy Giuliani: 12 percent

Tom Tancredo: 5 percent

Ron Paul: 2 percent

Newt Gingrich: 58 percent

Duncan Hunter: 1 percent Other: 10 percent

4) In a Republican primary of Newt vs. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, who would you vote for?
Rudy Giuliani: 17 percent

John McCain: 5 percent

Newt Gingrich: 78 percent

5) If the 2008 President race was between Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?
Newt Gingrich: 95 percent

Hillary Clinton: 5 percent

While the poll's methodology is highly questionable (What makes Condi Rice a candidate, but not Fred Thompson?), from the looks of his website, it's clear to me that Newt Gingrich is running for president. I listen to talk radio quite frequently, and while I wasn't keeping track because I hadn't been thinking about it, for pretty close to a year Newt has been running ads, primarily talking about restoring God in the country.

Restoring God is the subject of his recent book, and is a central message at his web site.

The following is Point Three of his "21st Century Contract with America":


Recenter on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come. We will insist on a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life.
I'm one of those people who believes in God but thinks it's a personal matter. Free speech, of course, means that anyone should have the right to talk about God anywhere, and voice any opinion. Is that all Newt is talking about? The way the above is written, it's almost as if it was scripted by lawyers with a goal of coming as close as possible to advocating a constitutional violation without saying it specifically.

This makes me uneasy, because, you know, the guy wants to be president.

Oh, here's that constitutional part I'm talking about:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

(Emphasis added.)

This is not minor. It's pretty basic stuff. While we might not all be able to agree on precisely what "no religious test" means, I'm wondering. Not that I'm seeking any office or public trust, but for the sake of argument, I'd like to put myself in the position of someone who might be screened by Gingrich and company for a judicial position.

What kind of questions might I face from people who believe a primary goal is to "recenter on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come"? Suppose I didn't believe in God at all, or else I took the view that regardless of whether there were a God (or gods), that creation might have taken place independent of deities, and that the notion of liberties was grounded in human philosophy? Would I be disqualified? If so, wouldn't that constitute a religious test? And whose business is it whether I believe in God, much less what role I might think God played in the granting of liberties to human beings? How can such a question be put to anyone without it being a religious test? FWIW, I don't think liberties could have come from some of the versions of God that some people believe in, so the question itself is very complex, and cannot be asked without getting into individual religious beliefs. Unless I am wrong, I think Gingrich is calling for a religious test for public office, and in so doing, he expresses contempt for the Constitution.

As to the insistence on "a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life," I suppose even an atheist could understand that religion and belief in God have always played a central role in history. Hell, Gingrich wants them to play a central role in the election, so the mere discussion of this admits the simple fact that religion is important. But is that what is meant? What does it mean to "recognize the Creator in public life"? I'm not sure I know, but I hope it isn't code language for the advocacy of politicized religion, because there are many people who believe in "the Creator" who don't wear their religion on their sleeve. I was raised to believe that it's not polite to ask people about their religious views, much less debate them, and while I understand that some people think that people should be asked about their religious views, I think it is as inappropriate to ask potential public office holders about such personal views as it would be to ask them about their sex lives.

Hillary, IMO, would have a field day. I think she'd love to paint the GOP as the "Party of God" and Gingrich is her dream opponent come true.

But religion is only one factor. Another, factor (and, I think, a more important one for Hillary) is that Newt Gingrich is a polarizing figure -- a fact acknowledged by a former Gingrich PAC chairman Matt Towery. Towery says there's no question that Gingrich is running:

"He's running. I know him. I can read him like a book,'' said longtime Gingrich protege Matt Towery of Atlanta, who used to head the Friends of Newt Gingrich political action committee.
And likewise, there's no question that he's polarizing:
"Hillary Clinton is as polarizing as he is,'' said Towery, the longtime Gingrich aide who now heads InsiderAdvantage, a polling and political media firm that serves Florida. ''That's the perfect scenario for Gingrich who otherwise, considering his high negatives, might be considered unelectable."
My concern is not so much whether he's unelectable, but that he'll make Hillary Clinton electable. By being a vintage Hillary hater (no single person better epitomizes the anti-Clinton, "vast right wing conspiracy," "politics of personal destruction" attack machine), Gingrich will add dimension, importance, and great legitimacy to Hillary Clinton. In what might seem paradoxical, this will do much to help Hillary where she needs help the most -- to build herself up as an independent woman, and not as Bill Clinton's coat-tailing wife. Having a serious enemy dating back to a period when many of the 2008 voters were in high chairs will make her seem like a seasoned, politically hardened veteran, and allow her to run a campaign as a fiercely independent, strong woman who will now do battle to face down -- and beat -- her legendary tormenter-in-chief from the past.

If I were working for Hillary, I'd be positively drooling at the prospect.

Of course, first Newt has to beat Giuliani. For some time I've been wondering why there hasn't been any serious movement against Giuliani on the right. With Newt emerging, there might not need to be, as the hard right primary voters could simply embrace Newt overwhelmingly. By the time the primaries roll around, Giuliani will be looking more tired, while Newt will look like a fresher, more conservative face.

Will the MSM kick in and help out Newt in order to create a more fertile playing field for Hillary? An intriguing possibility.

From a Human Events column, Matt Towery elaborates. He begins by stressing that he's "100 percent positive that Gingrich will enter the battle for the GOP nomination":

I don't need to hear a confirmation from his lips, nor will I seek to press him on the point. That could put him in the awkward position of having to offer an indefensible untruth.
Giuliani becomes the fall guy according to Towery, hence Newt has to preempt him on the adultery issue:
Lastly, which candidate would most need to fall on his face in order for Gingrich to enter the fray?

Rudy Giuliani. That's right. Many say otherwise, that Gingrich needs another right-wing darling to stumble. But the real fall guy is the former New York City mayor.

By making his "confession" to Dr. James Dobson last week, and by then receiving forgiveness from major religious-right leaders, Gingrich outflanked Giuliani and his own publicly unacknowledged transgressions. Gingrich has left Giuliani on an ethical island as the "two-woman" mayor.

With little or no grassroots organization in most states, Giuliani looks to be the '08 version of Howard Dean: leading in the polls, but with a campaign built on a foundation of sand.

Would Dobson and Falwell similarly forgive Giuliani? I doubt it. For starters, Giuliani hasn't been running radio ads with a religious flavor, nor has he been flirting with religious tests for office holders, and I doubt he'd do either.

What intrigues me more than anything else is something Towery calls a "mystery" -- the Newt Gingrich "rock star" treatment:

....the former speaker is getting treated like a rock star at just about every event he attends these days. Even with his rumpled look, complete with glasses resting on his nose, Gingrich seems to have the same political "sex appeal" that followed Henry Kissinger around in the 1970s -- which is still a mystery to me.
If my theories about what Hillary wants are correct, Newt will be built up as the biggest rock star on the right.

I'd been hoping that Bush Derangement Syndrome was the left's retaliation for the old days of the anti-Clinton attack machine, and that after Bush was gone, some semblance of civility might return to politics. This is a major reason I'd rather not have the Clintons back in the White House. If they must run again, I'd prefer to see them opposed by someone who wouldn't be a rehash of the old anti-Clinton attack machine.

IMO, Gingich so personifies the anti-Clinton attack machine that it's almost as if he's coat-tailing on Hillary (as a vintage Hillary hater). This is a scary thought -- mainly because I'm so very tired of Hillary.

It's not so much that I don't want Newt to be my candidate.

It's that I don't want Newt to be her candidate.

MORE: Speaking of hatred, James Joyner links an intriguing Zogby poll showing Hillary and Newt are the two candidates most hated by voters. Hence, concludes Joyner, they can't win:

Presuming these trends are not artifacts of the polling methodology, I'd say neither Gingrich nor Clinton have any shot of getting elected president.
Yes, but does that mean they won't be on the ballot?

I hope my logic isn't wrong, but it strikes me that if the two run against each other in the general election one of them will win.

I think it would be Hillary.

AND MORE: I didn't know what to think about it at the time, but it seems to have been on March 1 that Gingrich first "took off the gloves":

After months of playing nice about Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took off the gloves and called Clinton "a nasty woman" with a "ruthless" campaign machine.
He then called for a "Ronald Reagan-type candidate":
Gingrich told the Post that Republicans need to nominate a Ronald Reagan-type candidate, adding, "A normative Republican running like a traditional Republican, which means a non-Reagan Republican, and trying to beat Hillary by being negative is hopeless."
I'm not sure whether he means that he'd be the best at being negative, but in any case, Newt's sudden removal of the gloves (especially in contrast with the praise he had lavished on Hillary in 2005) has not gone unnoticed on the left. Media Matters offers a detailed compendium of the apparent Newt flip-flop. I'm not sure his praise for her was all that sincere, as I think his dream has been to run against her all along, so I think it might be a flip-flop in name only (if there is such a thing).

With "praise" like this, Newt gave himself away:

In a July 22, 2005, "Washington Sketch" column, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Gingrich had told a panel at the National Press Club "that 'to a greater extent than we would have guessed,' the former speaker and the former first lady have discovered that 'we have the same instinct.' "
Same instinct? When a guy like Newt Gingrich uses a word like "instinct," you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to call that a clue.

Speaking of instinct, I just can't resist quoting this Media Matters commenter:

Run Newt, RUN...Oh please, RUN...

Let's start a website and raise money for Newtie to run.

Hey, there's no need to get sarcastic about it.

He already has a website, and I'm sure they accept donations from anyone. Even Media Matters readers.

AFTERTHOUGHT: And a horrible one at that. But it's a question that needs to be asked.

What does it suggest about the primary system in this country that the two candidates most hated by the voters could quite possibly end up being the two candidates who win the respective primaries?

I think this calls for a scientific poll.

Feel free to vote.

(Remember, not voting allows me to vote on your behalf. That's my way of being scientific!)

Assume Hillary and Newt are the only choices for president. For whom would you vote?
Hillary Clinton
Newt Gingrich
pollcode.com free polls

Just kidding about voting on your behalf, folks. Looking at that choice disinclines me to vote at all. So I'll abstain on behalf of all who abstain.

posted by Eric on 03.25.07 at 11:44 AM


Why no option for "stay home and cry" or "write in some other name"?

There's no way I would vote for Hillary Clinton, and no way I would vote for an adulterous scold who left his wife on her deathbed and wants to increase the role of religion in politics. Let alone an adulterous scold who was gunning for Clinton at the time he was trysting. Let alone an adulterous scold who did a poor job running the House.

If Newt wins the primary, Dems win the general. Every sane Republican has to know that. (Every insane Republican seems to be a fan of NewsMax.) Did I mention that he's an adulterous scold? Newt can't win BECAUSE OF THE HYPOCRISY!

Daryl Herbert   ·  March 26, 2007 2:20 AM

On this concept of the centrality of God, I really do have an issue with the folks pushing that line as while there were many devout individuals who founded the Nation, there were also some that were less than devout and a few downright ornery kinds that just had problems with that. And what they also miss is the centrality of the Westphalian State that the founders *did* look at and then use as the basis for the Nation. So when anyone, say Rep. John Conyers, want to elevate one religion, creed or belief structure and give it especial mention and citation, I really do have problems with that idea on the Federal Level as the Westphalian State concept was given to the States to have religion and the Federal side to make no law in regards to religion. Apparently those that founded the Nation took a look at the high number of different sects already in the Colonies, 200 years of religious fighting and did *not* want to get the US involved in a huge religious war at any time in its future. The founders did, indeed, have their varigated beliefs and, in their wisdom, made sure not to press that upon the Nation for all time as no good has ever come of that, in their eyes. They were further supported by the various sects and religions that fled persecution and execution who did *not* want that entire idea to be started up here. That is what they were running from, in case the modern day religious folks have forgotten that. Those who lived in that era wanted no association with any elevation of any religion or sect above any other and wanted a Nation in common that could be run for the good of All the People.

As for Hillary, she is trying to be First Mom and all I can say is that she is a *mother* all right...

ajacksonian   ·  March 26, 2007 9:10 AM

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