Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney -- Will the Republican Please Stand Up?

Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney -- Will the Republican Please Stand Up?

By Larry Elder - May 26, 2011

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney make me think of Dorothy Jones.

"Aunt" Dorothy, my mom's closest friend, was a warm, smart, comedienne-quick funny woman from a large family. Unlike my mom's other friends, Dorothy was single and remained so until she died. I once asked her, in the rude way only children can, why she never married.

"You know," she said while pointing, one by one, at four imaginary men lined up in front her, "if you took the best qualities from all my sisters' husbands and rolled them up into one man -- you'd still come up short."

This describes how it feels when trying to find a GOP presidential candidate. What are we small "L" libertarian, tea-party-type, low-tax, low-regulation, serious-about-entitlement-reform, non-"climate-change"-hysterical voters looking for?

For starters, how about someone who believes that the Constitution means what it says and says what it means, and won't abide the "principled" Republican politician who wanders off the page in search of "compromise" to "get things done" to "do the people's business"? Not too much to ask.

This brings us to the declared and confused GOP presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and the soon-to-be declared, and confused, GOP candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Gingrich masterfully engineered the 1994 GOP takeover of the House. He came up with the Contract With America, and once called Sen. Bob Dole, the party's 1996 presidential candidate, "the tax collector for the welfare state." He is bright and knowledgeable, which makes some of his positions all the more indefensible.

Did Gingrich really write off Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's gutsy Medicare reform idea as "right-wing social engineering," after having praised Ryan's debt and deficit reduction ideas just two months earlier? Yes, he did.

Did Gingrich really cut a video with global-warming fanatic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which they pledged to work together to fight "climate change"? Yes, he did.

Did Gingrich come out in favor of ethanol and the federal boondoggle that pays farmers to convert farmland producing edible corn into land devoted to corn for ethanol -- a product that, but for mandates and subsidies, would have no market? Did Gingrich support ethanol even after Al "Mr. Environment" Gore renounced his previous support and admitted that he only supported ethanol to secure the 2000 farm vote? Yes and yes.

Did Gingrich team up with race hustler extraordinaire, the Rev. Al Sharpton, to tour the country to raise awareness of the education "race gap"? Did Gingrich team with the man who not only opposes vouchers -- a serious attempt to provide alternatives to and competition against government schools -- but who calls vouchers "racist"? Yes, he did.

Romney, for his part, ran in 2008 as a fiscal conservative elected in a liberal state and who, therefore, represents someone who "can reach across the aisle" and appeal to independents and "conservative Democrats" -- whatever that means. Unfortunately, his signature achievement is the statist RomneyCare, a Bay State "universal health care program" that includes a mandate. It served as a model for ObamaCare.

Believers in limited government, to put it mildly, intensely dislike ObamaCare and reserve a special place in hell for the mandate that forces every man, woman and child to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily point out that RomneyCare fails to control premium costs, exceeded budget projections and "works" only because of money from the federal government.

Many Republicans encouraged Romney to call RomneyCare a blunder, and use it as an object lesson of yet another well-intended but wrongheaded government intrusion that produced unintended and hurtful consequences.

Did Romney not only refuse to apologize for RomneyCare, but praise it as a "state solution"? Did Romney defend the Massachusetts mandate while criticizing Obama's federal one? Did Romney thus support the concept of allowing government to force people to purchase health insurance or face a fine, so long as it does so at the state level? Does Romney therefore disagree with conservatives who call RomneyCare a disaster that other states emulate at their own peril? Yes, yes, yes and yes, he does.

So much for Gingrich and Romney. Now what?

What about Thomas Sowell? The economist/writer/philosopher/limited government/free-market advocate, the most clear-headed opinionator in America, is 80. The 80 is not the problem. It is the clear-headed part that made Sowell double over in laughter when he was asked about running for office. Former left-wing David Mamet partially credits Sowell with turning him from being "a brain-dead liberal." Yes, Sowell is that good.

Who else?

What about Margaret Thatcher, the 85-year-old fiscal conservative British ex-prime minister? Could we persuade her into renouncing her citizenship and running for president here in the States? Alas, that requires an amendment to the Constitution, which currently allows only a "natural born citizen" to become president.

What would Aunt Dorothy do?


Copyright 2011, Creators Syndicate Inc.

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