South Carolina Message


Just days before the South Carolina primary, polls showed Mitt Romney leading Newt Gingrich. Then came the debates and the question about Gingrich’s private life, which brought a devastating response from the former Speaker of the House — and a standing ovation from the audience.

Apparently the television audience felt the same way, judging by the huge turnaround in the support for Gingrich. The stunning victory in South Carolina brought Newt’s candidacy back to life.

But the message from South Carolina was about more than a reaction to how Gingrich dealt with a cheap shot question from the media. Nor was it simply the Republican voters’ response to Newt’s mastery as a debater.

The more fundamental message is that the Republican primary voters do not want Mitt Romney, even if the Republican establishment does — and it is just a question of which particular conservative alternative the voters prefer.

The successive boomlets for Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain showed the Republican voter’s constant search for somebody — anybody — as an alternative to Romney. The splintering of the conservative vote among numerous conservative candidates allowed Romney to be the “front-runner,” but he never ran far enough in front to get a majority.

Mitt Romney’s supposed “electability” — his acceptability to moderates and independents — has been his biggest selling point. Moreover, he is just the kind of candidate that the Republican establishment has preferred for years: a nice, bland, moderate who offends nobody.

This is the kind of candidate that is supposed to be the key to victory, no matter how many such candidates have gone down to defeat. If the bland and inoffensive moderate was in fact the key to victory, Dewey would have won a landslide victory over Truman in 1948, and John McCain would have beaten Barack Obama in 2008.

Whomever the Republicans choose as their candidate is going to have to run against both Barack Obama and the pro-Obama media. Newt Gingrich has shown that he can do that. Romney? Not so much. Mitt Romney’s fumbling when trying to answer the simple question of whether he would or would not release his income tax records is the kind of indecisiveness that is not going to cut it in a nationally televised debate with President Obama.

Gingrich is not just a guy who is fast and feisty on his feet. He has a depth of understanding of what issues are crucial, experience in how to deal with them and — almost equally important — experience in how to shoot down the petty, irrelevant and “gotcha” distractions of the media.

Does Gingrich have negative qualities? More than most. Wild statements, alienation of colleagues, reckless gambits. His use of the rhetoric of the left in attacking Bain Capital was a recent faux pas, though one that he quickly backed away from.

But if we are serious — and there has seldom, if ever, been a time in the history of this nation when it was more necessary to be serious — then we cannot simply add up talking points for or against a candidate. What matters is how that candidate stands on issues that can make or break the future of this country.

Polls show the public as a whole with more negative attitudes toward Gingrich than toward Romney. But negative opinions, like other opinions, are not set in stone.

If the election campaign changes the opinions of a significant minority of the anti-Gingrich voters — when the alternative is Obama — it will not matter how much the remainder may hate Newt.

Is this a gamble? The painful reality is that everyone in this year’s field of Republican candidates is a gamble. And re-electing Barack Obama is an even bigger gamble.

Whichever candidate the Republican voters finally choose from this year’s field, they are bound to have reservations, if not fears. Gingrich’s worst could be worse than Romney’s worst, both as a candidate and as a president. But Gingrich’s best is much better than Romney’s best.

Sometimes caution can be carried to the point where it is dangerous. When the Super Bowl is on the line, you don’t go with the quarterback who is least likely to throw an interception. You go with the one most likely to throw a touchdown pass.



Thomas Sowell


Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, he left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), he went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968). Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His 28 books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Currently, he is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.

  • DCH

    It will be fun to watch Newt elaborate on the “sanctity of marriage” and how the inclusion of others some how diminishes the institution to which he has shown such personal commitment.

    The GOP is going to have to clarify the “one man and one woman” rule since Newt and Callista operated under an undisclosed “Open Marriage” provision that applies to conservative scolds. LOL

  • DCH

    Newt’s response to the question was a classic diversion technique that does not erase the FACTS:
    1. that his ex-wife said that he wanted an “open marriage”
    2. that he actually was cheating with Callista for SIX years before dumping his wife.

    So the question is: Newt, if your wife agrees to an open marriage is cheating with your mistress still a sin in the eyes of God?

  • MMC

    “The inclusion of others” is impossible…for marriage will always be between one man and one woman. Once you “include others” whether is be members of the same sex, the same gene pool, or multiples it ceases to be “marriage.”

    It’s not a one man and one woman “rule”…marriage IS what is IS. You cannot change it without destroying it.

    I am saddened by the actions of Newt Gingrich. He recently converted to Catholicism a few years ago. According to his story, he received much guidance and formation from a priest. Hopefully confession too.

    I am not aware of what his current wife or he did before they were married. If adultery did occur, I hope they have gone to confession, received counsel on why it is wrong and the sanctity of marriage vows. Sadly his former wife has now made his sins public. I pray the Lord guides him in how to make reparation and live the life of a disciple of Christ in the public eye.

  • DCH

    His adultery was already public knowledge.

    Newt’s actions are more impotant than is words. He had OVER LAPPING marriage relationships. A new definition.

    Newt was cheating on wife 1 while married to wife 2. He dumped wife 1 (mother of his daughters) to marry Marianne. He cheated with Callista for SIX YEARS (while impeaching Bill Clinton over lying about Monica) while married to Marianne. Marianne has said more than once that he asked for an “open marriage” (but did so SIX YEARS into the Callista affair). He trades up for younger wives each time.

    Callista was a devout catholic woman the whole time she was conducting a sinful affair with Newt – how hard is that to understand?

    Why do you think anyone will take these two seriously when it comes to hectoring others and defining marriage?

    Newt will remind a lot woman of the ex husbands.
    The moment he says “scactity of marriage” we wil ask him to define if for us in detail and ask him if it applies to him. Gay people are going to have a field day with this guy on YouTube.

  • digdigby

    He’s a randy dawg ain’t he. I DO NOT CARE. I want him to go for the throat of Obama, Obamacare, the Chicago-Alinsky machine and if I want to be preched to, I’ll get preached to on Sunday. If you want sermons from your politicians you are a bigger fool than you think I am.

  • MMC

    Up until his entry into the Catholic church a few years ago Newt was pretty much a pagan. So it’s no surprise that he acted like one.

    Every saint had a past and every sinner a future. Irregardless of who says it, the truth about marriage will remain the truth. Newt Gingrich doesn’t define marriage, GOD does. It’s only up to us to affirm that truth or choose a delusion.