Bam! George Will on Huckabee, Gingrich and the coming GOP apocalypse

I am coming late to this party, but I am just glad to be here.

George Will explained concisely in his Sunday column why any Republican with a set of working neurons is really nervous about 2012. Let me start where Will finishes:

Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.

Notice that Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich are not on that list. Will delineates with precision that these two men have fallen on the Obama-is-not-a-real-American sword in such a way that they may not only impale themselves but also the rest of the party. 

Huckabee disappoints the most as he first panders to two far right talk show hosts about Obama’s birth place. Huckabee first told Steve Malzberg that the current President grew up in Kenya, then later after being called on the error, said he simply meant Indonesia and went on a bit to the second, Bryan Fischer, about Obama and community madrassas. Will dismisses the excuses and notes that such episodes have consequences:

Republicans should understand that when self-described conservatives such as Malzberg voice question-rants like the one above and Republicans do not recoil from them, the conservative party is indirectly injured. As it is directly when Newt Gingrich, who seems to be theatrically tiptoeing toward a presidential candidacy, speculates about Obama having a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” mentality.

Let’s pull over and park here a minute. There in a nutshell is my point about why GOP candidates are digging themselves a hole by doing puff interviews on the American Family Radio network with Bryan Fischer. The current crop of contenders is so intent on injuring Obama that anything goes, and in the process, the critic is injured more than the target.

Will then dismisses Gingrich’s affair with Dinesh D’Souza’s theories about Obama.

To the notion that Obama has a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview, the sensible response is: If only. Obama’s natural habitat is as American as the nearest faculty club; he is a distillation of America’s academic mentality; he is as American as the other professor-president, Woodrow Wilson. A question for former history professor Gingrich: Why implicate Kenya?

Reading Gingrich further, he calls Obama’s world view “factually insane” and says the President “is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works.” In addition to Will’s correction of Gingrich’s picture of Obama, I offer this. Gingrich’s hyperbole obscures any serious consideration of his ideas from those he most wants to reach. He is talking trash to the choir; most others dismiss him after the first sentence or two. Gingrich, Huckabee, Malzberg and Fischer almost make Obama look appealing by comparison, even to some of the choir.

Now let me end where Will began:

If pessimism is not creeping on little cat’s feet into Republicans’ thinking about their 2012 presidential prospects, that is another reason for pessimism. This is because it indicates they do not understand that sensible Americans, who pay scant attention to presidential politics at this point in the electoral cycle, must nevertheless be detecting vibrations of weirdness emanating from people associated with the party.

Color me pessimistic.

11 thoughts on “Bam! George Will on Huckabee, Gingrich and the coming GOP apocalypse”

  1. David Blakeslee….. Please, go on…unless this is a retrospective conclusion. But if you had earlier information, I would be interested in it.

    As I stated it is only my own interpretation from reading of his antics mostly in debates. Such as his explanation of mind (soul) as the music on a radio. D’Souza says smash the radio (your body) and the music (mind/soul) yet plays on. His analogy is not only simplistic but incorrect technically (brain and mind would be more like a radio station transmitter on a specific frequency supporting individuality). But then again D’Souza espouses the idea that in a debate or discussion it is worthy of a Christian to demean their opponent. D’Souza seems to think he can do it by creating poor analogies and using bad science and then lording it over his debate opponent by the use of his background and supposed intellect. The man is as strange as Dawkins.

  2. Lynn David,

    D’Souza has always seemed to me to be somewhat tending towards some portion of the lunatic fringe;

    Please, go on…unless this is a retrospective conclusion. But if you had earlier information, I would be interested in it.

    My personal belief is that Obama is more informed by his mother’s recklessness than his father’s rage. It is the easier argument to make and there is much more relevant data to support it.

    Idealistic and unstable, suspicious of her Western values, she seeks out and forms relationships with men outside her culture; one in particular who is an exploiter. She moves her son around haplessly and leaves him to be raised by her grandparents.

    Obama identifies with her values politically, but rejects her lifestyle wholeheartedly (he knows it cannot work for his girls). He is torn between these two poles at midlife.

    He is angry, alright, (as we all are ;)); at a culture her mother and grandfather rejected prior to his birth. He sees America through this prism of flaws, failures and abuses…which is reasonable enough.

    But he cannot for the life of him put it into a greater context of the flawed human condition; like it or not, America stands at the top of the political pile for protecting human rights and repeated selfless sacrifices for developing nations.

    That kind of pride is so difficult for Obama.

  3. I think Will is basically correct, but to pessimistic… isn’t this courting of the lunatic fringe part and parcel of the primary and pre primary season? Solidify ALL parts of your base prior to moving to the center in a national election?

    I admit though that I was disappointed to see Gingrich make a fool of himself.

  4. Daniels and Huntsman might be worth a look at. Romney flip-flopped on every issue but if the economy isn’t doing well I think the voters will overlook that. If he casts himself as the economist in the primaries Romney might win.

    Barbour disqualified himself after defending the White Citizens Council. Besides, he was a lobbyist. Democrats wouldn’t have to do too much investigating to find some dirt on him.

  5. Byron – Pawlenty would be interesting if he could keep himself from making the same mistakes as Gingrich and Huckabee – appearing with and parroting the lunatic fringe. He has already a Bryan Fischer moment.

    Daniels is right now the guy I am most interested in – even with Lynn David’s good observations of the gov.

    I think perhaps the others you mentioned have taken themselves off the field and I think Romney is DOA due to his flip flop on healthcare. His protests about Obamacare are about as convincing as Huckabee’s denial that he meant Indonesia instead of Kenya.

    I am also going to look into Huntsman…Barbour might be ok with me if he can avoid the fringe (not the amazing Fox TV show on Friday night at 9pm, of course!)

  6. David Blakeslee…. I have not read D’Souza’s recent work, but his earlier works are remarkable and thoughtful.

    Anti-colonial? Who isn’t nowadays…

    This is what the book cover from D’Souza’s new book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, has to say:

    The real Obama is a man shaped by experiences far different from those of most Americans; he is a much stranger, more determined, and exponentially more dangerous man than you’d ever imagined. He is not motivated by the civil rights struggles of African Americans in the 1960s — those battles leave him wholly untouched. He is not motivated by the socialist or Marxist propaganda that hypnotized a whole generation of wooly-minded academics and condescending liberals — those concepts also leave him cold.

    What really motivates Barack Obama is an inherited rage — an often masked, but profound rage that comes from his African father; an anticolonialist rage against Western dominance, and most especially against the wealth and power of the very nation Barack Obama now leads. It is this rage that explains the previously inexplicable, and that gives us a startling look at what might lie ahead.

    We are today living out the script for America and the world that was dreamt up not by Obama but by Obama’s father. How do I know this? Because Obama says so himself. Reflect for a moment on the title of his book: it’s not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. In other words, Obama is not writing a book about his father’s dreams; he is writing a book about the dreams that he got from his father.

    Think about what this means. The most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s — a polygamist who abandoned his wives, drank himself into stupors, and bounced around on two iron legs (after his real legs had to be amputated because of a car crash caused by his drunk driving). This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son is the one who is making it happen, but the son is, as he candidly admits, only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is being governed by a ghost.

    Now coming from the viewpoint of the atheist I am, D’Souza has always seemed to me to be somewhat tending towards some portion of the lunatic fringe; and this work of his only adds to that estimation.

  7. I think Will’s analysis is right on, here. Huckabee has really disappointed me, and though philosophically I’m right in line with Newt, there’s not a snowball’s chance that I’d vote for him were he to get the nomination (vote for Newt, and we lose any right to ever bring up moral issues again, because the skeletons in Newt’s closet are numerous). Personally, Daniels and Pawlenty, in that order, intrigue me. Romney’s a flip-flopper; Huntsman might be great, but don’t know a lot about him (maybe a good VP candidate?), and Haley Barbour just isn’t very compelling as a candidate, though I think he’s a good governor.

    Funny the names that aren’t on the list—and I’m not talking about Sarah Palin or Rudy Giuliani. Bobby Jindal isn’t even mentioned, nor is Chris Christie or Bob McDonnell (maybe the thinking is that they’re too new as governors to be ready to be president, and that might be good thinking).

  8. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

    Daniels is the least objectionable of the five that WIll listed. I just hope that he as a president doesn’t lower taxes like he didn’t lower them in Indiana.

  9. George Will gets the conservative movement better than nearly anyone.

    That said, Obama’s worldview is definately effected by his upbringing, as were Reagan’s and McCains. It behooved us to understand the role of Clinton’s father and mother in his life.

    I have not read D’Souza’s recent work, but his earlier works are remarkable and thoughtful.

    Anti-colonial? Who isn’t nowadays…

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