December 6th, 2011 11:17 EST
Sitting Atop a House of Cards; They All Fall Down
It is difficult to know what you will come home to after a vacation. You pull in to find a weeks` worth of papers, that you thought you had stopped delivery on, piled up in the driveway. Then there is the mail. Usually this is just junk; I miss the days of finding a few typed or handwritten letters mixed in with the bills. Let`s get back to those newspapers in the driveway.
A lot can happen in a week. When I left, President Dmitri A. Medvedev was preparing to trade places with Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin. They were confident of an easy transition in their game of musical chairs. Then the news came that with 95 percent of the vote counted, their United Russia party had 238 seats in the Duma, or slightly less than 53 percent, down from the 315 seats they held after the last election. The Communist Party trailed by 19 percent of the overall vote; a substantial gain. Comrade Lenin must have sat up in his Mausoleum. Following the election, both Putin and Medvedev appeared a bit shaken. Did the new Czar build his house out of cards?
Then there is the Euro Zone that has investors on a rollercoaster. I noticed President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were holding hands and laughing as they greeted one another earlier this week in Paris. They both want amendments to Europe`s governing treatise to establish better economic governance for the 17 nations in the Euro zone. Meanwhile, Italy imposes radical austerity measures. This effort by Sarkozy and Merkel may repair the legitimacy of the system, but I have my doubts. The economic crisis points to a deepening political crisis, a growing discontentment throughout Western Europe. One has to wonder how long it will be before the Dutch and other countries that are economically stable balk at the idea of carrying those countries that have been economically irresponsible. Besides, the polling data shows that both Sarkozy and Merkel are sitting atop a house of cards in their respective countries.
Another person sitting on a house of cards is Newt Gingrich. When I left for vacation, Herman Cain was climbing to the top. Now Cain is gone amid allegations of s[e]xual harassment and a thirteen year affair that he promptly ended when he decided to seek the Republican nomination for the Presidency.
Unlike Herman Cain who has an "alleged" record of s[e]xual harassment and an affair, Newt`s personal history is proven and well established. Putting aside his personal life, there is Newt`s intellect to consider.
As Paul Krugman, Adam Hochschild, and Maureen Dowd have observed in recent columns, Newt is not Woodrow Wilson, or to put it this way, he isn`t a respected scholar though he likes to portray himself as such. He is, however, a shrewd politician. He isn`t going to implode the way Rick Perry and Herman Cain did. Perhaps I should include Michelle Bachmann on that list. Newt thinks his intellect and shrewdness can sustain the momentum needed to win the primaries and take the nomination. What he ignores is the instability of his own house of cards.
Newt`s house of cards is his public record. First, there is the $1.6 million in fees he earned from Freddie Mac as a "historian" consultant. Second, it is worthwhile to recall how then House Representative Newt Gingrich hounded Speaker of the House Jim Wright from office in order to propel his own career. Third, there was the Government shut down while Newt was Speaker of the House. Fourth, in 1997, eighty-four ethics charges were brought against Newt. The charges were investigated by the House Ethics Committee and the Speaker was fined $300,000 for "intentional or ... reckless" disregard of House rules. Fifth, in 1997, the Republican leadership attempted to force Newt to resign as the Speaker. He refused on the grounds that a Democrat, namely Dick Gephardt, could be elected to replace him.
Mr. Gingrich`s public record raises questions about his ability to put an end to the partisan bickering that will enable Washington to address the critical issues of the economy, environment, education and entitlement reform, including social security, among other issues.
While Newt sits atop a house of cards, I can`t help but wonder why Jon Huntsman is being ignored by the Republican Party. He was popular and had a good record as governor of Utah. The Obama Administration feared him enough as a potential rival in 2012 that they appointed him as the ambassador to China. Unlike his fellow governor Mitt Romney, Huntsman doesn`t speak out of all sides of his mouth and try to be all things to all liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Huntsman has a few other things in his favor.
First, Huntsman is intelligent, has forthright answers to questions, and has experience that indicates he can build bipartisan support. Second, the polling data shows that he more than any other candidate has the best chance to beat President Obama in the November 2012 election. Third, unlike Newt, Huntsman isn`t cozying up to Donald Trump who is sponsoring a debate on the eve of the Iowa Caucus. Trump has hinted he will run for President should the Republicans nominate a candidate he deems unable to defeat President Obama. According to NBC News polling data from both Iowa and New Hampshire, voters by a 2-1 margin are less likely to back a candidate that has Donald Trump`s support.
Jon Huntsman, Jr. has run a stealth campaign, not tapping into his father`s wealth. He lacks the money to continue beyond New Hampshire. If the Republicans are serious about nominating a viable candidate, they need to determine if Huntsman is sitting on a house of cards or carrying the deck in his pocket. Agree with Huntsman`s policies or not, the American public will be better served if that question were answered.
Note: The author of this article is no longer affiliated with theSOP