January 24, 2012

FAILING THE NIGHTLY NEWS TEST:

Newt's Troublesome Lack of Prudence (Michael Gerson, 1/24/12, Washington Post)

 Other candidates struggle to recall three points on a 3-by-5 card. Gingrich struggles to suppress the dissertation that might emerge at any moment. The ability to think in public is a rare political gift -- more common in Britain than in America. Bill Clinton would shine during prime minister's question time. So would Gingrich.

But Gingrich regularly gets into trouble when moving from analysis to prescription. Nearly every problem that crosses the threshold of his attention becomes historically urgent, requiring a fundamental solution. This is the reason for his most revealing verbal habit. Systems are "fundamentally broken" and require "fundamental change." Opposing views are "fundamentally a lie" and "fundamentally alien to American tradition." Only the biggest ideas are sufficient to his self-regard.

So Gingrich diagnoses the genuine threat of terrorism and radical Islam. Then he calls for a federal law against Shariah, which would address a nonexistent crisis while stigmatizing an entire faith.

He makes a strong case for early work experience in low-income communities. Then he goes further to dismiss child labor laws as "truly stupid" and urges the employment of students as assistant janitors.

Gingrich acknowledges the problem of climate change -- or at least he once did. But he proposed to combat it through geoengineering -- the risky manipulation of the planet's environment by pumping nitrogen into the oceans or deflecting the sun's rays with vast mirrors.

Gingrich's proposals for fundamental change are generally dismissed as Newt being Newt -- the hits and misses of a fertile mind. But his misses are frequent, revealing a pattern of poor judgment. And eccentricities in a candidate become troubling when considered in a president.

Can you imagine having to listen to him every night on tv?

Posted by at January 24, 2012 6:47 PM
  

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