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New Leadership for the Past

By Matthew Yglesias on November 8, 2008 at 10:47 am

"New Leadership for the Past"

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I’ve heard some rumbling in progressive circles that Newt Gingrich was seriously attempting a comeback as a presidential candidate. I didn’t really believe it. But somebody got Robert Novak to write a column touting the former Speaker who resigned in disgrace over his stupendous leadership failures as the man the GOP needs.

Apparently he has “dynamism.” More seriously, the view is that Gingrich offers a “constant stream of ideas, an important commodity in a party that appears to have run short of ideas during the Bush years.”

I’m not really sure how key ideas are to conservative political revival. But what 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. As an opposition gambit, I think this probably works fine. It’s good for raising money, so it ensures that you can stay in the game. And it gives you talking points to go on TV with. Eventually the governing party will screw up, and in you’ll come. But at the same time, the considerable shortcomings to this approach as a governing philosophy is precisely what brought the GOP to this point — it leads to catastrophic screw-ups that prompt massive public disapproval.

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