Conservatives are reeling after Tuesday’s progressive victories, desperately insisting that the country remains center–right, holding secret soul-searching meetings, and floating the idea of a revived “Project for a New American Century” to help neocons in the wilderness.
In serious conversations among Republicans since their election debacle Tuesday, what name is mentioned most often as the Moses, or Reagan, who could lead them out of the wilderness before 40 years?
To the consternation of many Republicans, it is none other than Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.
Gingrich is far from a unanimous or even a consensus choice to run for president in 2012, but there is a strong feeling in Republican ranks that he is the only leader of their party who has shown the skill and energy to attempt a comeback quickly.
Gingrich appears to be consciously positioning himself as a possible savior. He has been working to shape the next generation of GOP foot soldiers in Congress, allegedly whipping up last-minute opposition to the financial bail-out package in September. NBC’s Mike Barnicle said that conservatives told him this event was “the opening salvo of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign four years hence,” although Gingrich has denied any such involvement. Gingrich even appeared as a “guest star” in the GOP energy protest over the summer, which conservatives considered “America’s greatest hour.”
Gingrich may have stiff competition from Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), whom many conservatives are also mentioning as a possible 2012 candidate. After all, Gingrich may be likened to Reagan and Moses, but can he send “little starbursts through the [tv] screen“?
On Thursday, Gingrich spoke at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce awards dinner echoed other conservatives and claimed that the country remains center-right:
“This was a performance election, not an ideological election,” Gingrich said. “Senator Obama did not run on any major left wing theme unless you count the anti-war movement. He primarily ran on ‘he’s going to cut taxes for the middle class, he’s going to make government work better, he’s going to bring us together.’ The fact is that no one campaigning as a general liberal, an open liberal, has been elected since 1964.”
,Yglesias writes, “[W]hat Gingrich offers doesn’t really qualify as ideas. Instead, call them ‘ideas.’ Instead of thinking about ways to solve problems in people’s lives, Gingrich is good at offering ways to package predetermined special-interest priorities as solutions to things that arise.”