As you can probably guess, I’m not as sanguine about Newt’s victory in South Carolina as is Bruce. I think the most important issue in this election is defeating Barack Obama and replacing him with a president committed to making the kinds of reforms the Democrat has assiduously avoided for the past three years. And don’t believe Newt is capable of the executive leadership necessary to accomplish the kind of bold reforms we need to get our economy moving and restore our national image.
We need a man who is not just decisive in his words, but also in his actions; we need someone who can exercise authority.
I thought Newt’s speech tonight showed both his strengths as a visionary and his weakness as a personality. He offered a great defense of our system, generous tributes to his rivals and a strong critique of the incumbent. But, he went on too long. He didn’t need to attack the elite media. Now, to be sure, if it weren’t for his attacks on the media in each of the two most recent debates, he wouldn’t have done as well as he did last night.
He won, in large part, because he dared take on an institution which has treated Republicans unfairly and all but maligned the conservative movement. If they had afforded Barack Obama the same scrutiny they have given to each of the Republican candidates, he would be a backbencher in the U.S. Senate and America’s first female president would be campaigning for her second term.
Even as I have my doubts about my former boss, I had a conversation tonight which gave me some hope. I saw a Democratic friend at a party tonight. He told me Newt’s victory tonight meant “Game Over” for the GOP; Obama is going to be reelected.
Just shy of four years ago, at another party, as Obama was wrapping up the Democratic nomination, this same man told me that his fellow partisans had just handed the election to the Republicans.
Politics is a strange business. Our forecasts often run awry — as President Tom Dewey will tell you. Jimmy Carter cheered as Ronald Reagan was wrapping up the Republican nomination in 1980. That Democrat won six states in the general election that fall.
It’s too bad we don’t have a governor running this year who can rally the party’s conservative base.
UPDATE: In his analysis of the results, Michael Barone contends that Newt’s. . . .
. . . victory in South Carolina was a victory not only over Romney and Santorum and Paul, but also over the news media, and signaled (more than I thought at the time) by the standing ovations he received from the audiences in the Fox News and CNN debates from questions by Juan Williams and John King (although neither is personally hated by Republican voters in the same way many others in what we call mainstream media are).
Read the whole thing.