|If you have to pick one of these two, pick the guy on the left.|
In what might come as a bit of a surprise for many readers of this blog, The Angry Bureaucrat is today making it's first political endorsement ever - and we endorse Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney for the Republican nominee for President. (Granted, there might be other Republicans we'd prefer to see over these two, such as Jon Huntsman, but since he seems to be a non-starter and is starting to flip-flop himself on such scientifically proven topics as climate change, we're just looking at these two candidates in this post.)
What will come as less of a shock is that part of this endorsement comes from political cynicism - we think it would be far easier for Obama to beat Newt than Mitt, and as this blog spends much of it's time outlining how the modern Republican Party is wrong on just about every major economic issue facing the country, I think it will be far better for the U.S. if Obama remains President.
But, another part of this endorsement is genuine - Newt would make a far better President than Mitt, if the U.S. had to pick between only those two candidates.
As often happens on the Internet to non-professional bloggers like me, someone else articulated my ideas first - specifically, Robert Shrum over at The Week - but I'll give my take on why Newt would make a better President.
Despite Mitt's protestations to the contrary, his flip-flops on issues dear to conservatives are well-documented - he's changed his position on abortion, gay marriage, health care mandates, stem cell research, climate change, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gun control, amnesty for illegal immigrants, etc. - all well-documented on websites such as http://mittromneyflipflops.com. Mitt is one of those politicians who will (and has) said anything he needs to say (regardless of his actual beliefs) in order to get elected - that's why he swung pretty far left (after all, that's the only way you can get elected to be governor of Massachusetts) and has now swung to the far far right in order to try to garner the Republican nomination for President. It's no wonder that many Republicans don't know what Mitt stands for - because the reality is that Mitt doesn't really stand for anything, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Mitt stands for whatever you want him to stand for.
Newt, on the other hand, while not being able to boast of the fanatical ideological purity of, say, Michelle Bachmann, is generally considered by everyone to be a bona fide conservative.
"OK, that's great," you say, "but why does it matter?"
The fact that the conservative right harbors such mistrust of Mitt means that he would have to govern as an uncompromising, hard-line right-wing President, since the conservative right would always be second-guessing his true motives and allegiances. Mitt would not have the latitude to, say, raise taxes in order to fight budget deficits (as Reagan did) or to cut a deal with a sworn U.S. enemy in order to make the world a safer place (as Reagan did with the Soviet Union). These were moderate (or even leftist) policies that right-wingers at the time hated but that Ronald Reagan was able to implement precisely because he was seen as THE bastion of conservativeness. If people had questioned Reagan's conservative credentials, he never would have had the latitude to implement some leftist policies that were nevertheless the pragmatic and "right" thing to do (he did a bunch of other things that I think were terrible, but on these points, he was at least moderate in his policies).
Mitt doesn't have the trust of the conservative base, so he will be forced to govern as he is campaigning now - from an utterly uncompromising far-right position, since the Republican base (which is now far more right-wing than it was when Reagan was running for reelection) might otherwise throw him out of office after his first term. At best, Mitt would usher in even more partisan gridlock in Washington, as few (if any) of Mitt's far-right policies would make it through Congress. At worst, Mitt might actually get some of his policies through Congress, which would most likely lead to increased unemployment through premature budget cuts, while his slashing of the safety net would likely turn the next recession into a depression. The government would no longer do things that people care about - take care of the most vulnerable, invest in research, support education and college attendance, and the like. Instead, the fabulously wealthy would get even richer, while the rest of America would continue to fall further behind.
For all his shortcomings, Newt does not suffer from the above handicaps, and he'd have the freedom to cut deals with the Democrats and implement practical moderate (and even liberal) policies from time to time, if the situation demanded them.
Therefore, if we have to pick between Newt and Mitt, The Angry Bureaucrat endorses Newt as the Republican candidate for President. We wish him the best of luck in the coming months, for the U.S.'s sake - though I suspect that the endorsement of this blog will do nothing to bolster Newt's standing in today's Republican party.
P.S. Wow, what a speech by Obama today - seriously threw down the gauntlet. I guess the 2012 race is on for real now. I'll stick with this post, since it's what I had planned for today, and I hope to be able to write about Obama's speech tomorrow.