Of Poodles and Pit Bulls

As the American people witness the Republican presidential primaries unfolding, many are puzzled by the uncharacteristic bitterness of the rhetoric.  Rarely have Republican candidates violated Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment… thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican… with the same level of rancor.  But the bitter exchanges are not gratuitous; there is a good reason for them.

Although few Americans would be able to stand and deliver an extemporaneous speech on the social and economic difficulties facing our nation, most Americans understand instinctively that our country cannot long survive with a national debt equal to or greater than our total annual GDP.  They understand that it is Barack Obama, a man who would be out of his depth as leader of a Boy Scout troop, let alone the richest and most powerful nation on Earth, who has brought us to the edge of an abyss from which there may be no recovery.

That being the case, it is easy to see how the level of rancor displayed in the Republican debates is directly proportional to the danger posed by Barack Obama and the Democrat majority in the Senate.  The imperative of ridding the nation of Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and a Democratic majority in the Senate is so great that it produces uncharacteristic passion among the most staid and dignified Republicans, each vying for the chance to be the “Exterminator-in-Chief.”

What is most disconcerting to conservatives is that, until the South Carolina primary, they’ve had to contend with Mitt Romney, another in a long line of Republican moderates, as frontrunner for the 2012 nomination.  Conservatives understand instinctively that the country cannot afford yet another Republican moderate in the White House.  Republicans must nominate a candidate who can not only defeat Obama in a landslide, but who, through sheer determination and strength of personality, can reverse the direction in which the nation is now headed and confront head-on the Democratic onslaught that is sure to come.

What the nation needs in these perilous times is not another “Poodle,” in the style of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney, but a “Pit Bull” in the style of the “Last Lion of Great Britain,” Winston Churchill.  The only man in the Republican field who fits that description is former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Governor Romney went into the 2012 Iowa caucuses as the frontrunner, having campaigned for the presidency non-stop since February 13, 2007, nearly 5 full years.  Speaker Gingrich entered the race on May 11, 2011, just over 8 months ago.   However, a week or ten days before the Iowa caucuses, after Gingrich had catapulted into frontrunner status on the strength of his performance in the pre-Iowa debates, the Romney forces panicked.  In their effort to derail what appeared to be the genesis of a Gingrich runaway, they produced an unprecedented number of negative campaign ads, viciously attacking Gingrich.

As Gingrich saw his popularity waning because of Romney’s negative campaigning, he made the first major strategic error of his campaign.  Instead of sticking with the strategy that brought him quickly through the ranks to frontrunner status… i.e. speaking only positively of his Republican opponents while relentlessly attacking Barack Obama… he responded “in kind” to the negative Romney ad campaign.

What he and his advisors apparently failed to consider was that, with a large store of “good guy, nice guy” currency, Mitt Romney could engage in a great deal of negative campaigning without suffering self-inflicted wounds.  Gingrich, on the other hand, because of his reputation as a tough infighter during the Clinton era, a man who was said to have so much “baggage” that the names Gingrich and Samsonite became almost synonymous, went into the Iowa contest with little or no store of “good guy, nice guy” currency.

In other words, while Romney could get away with saying almost anything he wanted to say about Newt, the voting public would never allow Gingrich the same latitude.  Instead of going negative, Gingrich would have been well-advised to simply look back over his shoulder, swat at Romney like a pesky fly, and double-down on his attacks on Obama.

Now, in the wake of Gingrich’s spectacular win in South Carolina, the first primary event that is truly reflective of the heart and soul of the larger Republican Party, we can begin to see into the future.  This in spite of the fact that few national pundits… including those on the Fox News network… appear to have the slightest understanding of Mitt Romney’s inability to secure the Republican nomination after 5 full years of campaigning.  They appear totally out of touch with the reality that Romney cannot rise above the 25-30% support level because, a) he is a moderate running in a party that is at least 80% conservative, b) rank-and-file Republicans are fed up with the lukewarm leadership they’ve received from moderates such as Bush (41), Bush (43), and John McCain, and c) Republicans and independents alike are terrified of a second Obama term.

Nor are they able to explain why establishment Republicans and the mainstream media would stoop to employ the most desperate life-or-death tactics… such as airing the Marianne Gingrich interview… to prevent a conservative Republican from coming out of South Carolina a winner.  They appear not to understand that, having engineered the nomination of essentially every GOP candidate for the past century, with the exception of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, the Republican “establishment” is unaccustomed to having their wishes ignored.

George H.W. Bush was a moderate.  He campaigned against Reagan’s supply-side economics… the economic policies that allowed a Republican House and Senate to produce four consecutive balanced budgets… calling Reagan’s economic proposals “voodoo economics.”  Bob Dole was a conservative, but a candidate who was nominated in 1996 by “establishment” Republicans on nothing more than the strength of his claim that it was “his turn.”  As a weak campaigner he had no chance of defeating Bill Clinton.

George W. Bush, brutalized by Democrats and the mainstream media from his first day in office,  seemed convinced that his role in U.S. history was to prove that he could “take a punch.”  He seemed not to understand that each time he was verbally assaulted, without ever launching a counterattack, the rank-and-file of the Republican Party felt the pain of the attacks more than he did.

And finally, John McCain was, if anything, an even worse candidate than Bob Dole.  It is easy to understand how he could tell a crowd in a recent “foot-in-mouth” appearance with Mitt Romney that “Barack Obama would turn the country around.”  It is also easy to understand the frustration that Sarah Palin, a true fighter for the cause, must have felt as the McCain staff regularly tied her hands and prevented her from waging an effective campaign against the Obama-Biden forces.  Now, as the “titular head” of the Republican Party, McCain provides no leadership whatsoever.

Conservative Republicans now feel as though they’ve given the Republican “establishment” more than enough opportunities to govern the country effectively.  All have failed and it’s now time for conservatives to reestablish ownership of their party.

In attempting to explain away the results of the South Carolina primary, Romney spokesmen make yet another strategic error, attempting to paint Newt Gingrich not as a chief executive type, but as a legislator.  In his appearance on Meet the Press, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responded to a David Gregory question by saying that, “The last thing the country needs is to have another legislator in the White House.  That’s what we have now.”

Yes, Barack Obama was a legislator… a very poor legislator, having voted “present” on at least 129 occasions when he found it either impossible or politically dangerous to reach a decision that might later prove difficult to explain.  His performance in the Oval Office, day-in, day-out, proves that he has little or no executive ability.

Gingrich, on the other hand, has demonstrated strong executive ability throughout his political career.  It was his tendency to act in an autocratic manner during his years as Speaker, as opposed to being the leader of 435 elected officials, each with his/her own oversized ego, that got him into trouble with the Democratic minority and his own House caucus.  Mitt Romney and his surrogates make a major error when they attempt to write Gingrich off as a mere “legislator.”  His worst critics, including members of his own party, complain that he does not work well in a collegial atmosphere; he is far better suited to an executive role.

Bush (41), Bush (43), and McCain were all Poodles engaged in a life-or-death struggle against Democratic Pit Bulls.  Among the current crop of GOP candidates, Mitt Romney is yet another Poodle; Rick Santorum is a yapping Terrier whose bark is worse than his bite; and Ron Paul is a Bulldog/Chihuahua mix.  The only Pit Bull in the race is Newt Gingrich.

Unlike John McCain, who treated Obama as if he was nothing more than a misguided little brother, the 2012 Republican candidate will have to take off the gloves with him.  It is a task that only a Pit Bull can handle.  None of our Poodles could ever get the job done.

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