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New Newt, old Newt, same Newt? [Most commented]

Newt Gingrich
In his Nov. 17 Op-Ed column, Doyle McManus draws attention to Newt Gingrich's comeback and compares it with Richard Nixon's makeover in 1968.  To that end, McManus offers a side-by-side comparison of the two Newts:

Old Newt -- Angry Newt, the one who entered the presidential campaign last spring -- talked in apocalyptic terms about threats to American culture. Old Newt wrote about "a secular-socialist machine" led by the Democratic Party that "represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."

"If we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America," he warned, the U.S. could soon become "a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists."

And the revised version:

New Newt -- Presidential Newt -- talks about fiscal challenges more than cultural threats and says they don't look that scary. "There are ways to solve this," he told voters in Iowa this week. The economy can be fixed, he said, simply by allowing more oil and gas drilling, reducing fraud in federal programs and "putting people back to work."

The change is not complete.  Gingrich still slips back into his past ways, as people do.  Regardless, is this change sustainable?  McManus wonders:

Can New Newt keep Old Newt at bay for long? It's one thing to focus on fiscal issues instead of cultural warfare; that's just a matter of emphasis. The greater challenge for Gingrich is maintaining his changed temperament after years of delighting in unconventional ideas and unrestrained polemic.

Readers took the issue in various directions.  Here is a sample of comments from the discussion board:

Put your faith in whomever the left hates this week

As Rush Limbaugh always says, you can tell who liberals fear the most by who the Democrats and the media try to destroy the most.  Just look at the onslaught of attacks in the last two days.  Newt is being attacked worse than Sarah Palin has.  You can bet that a left-wing organization is responsible for the fliers being passed around the state of Iowa detailing Newts marriages etc.   The state-run liberal media and the "establishment right-wing media"  will do their best to see to it that he is not the nominee.  This tells me that Newt is the right candidate.  Obama will be effectively "Newtered" after Newt is done with him in the debates.

-- Tralfazzz

Pleasantly surprised by New Newt

I have a confession to make: I have been very surprised by Newt's rise in the polls. Like other Americans, I had swallowed the MSM's distortions about the man.  Just today, the polls in Iowa show him at 32%, way ahead of Romney and the others.  Early on in his campaign, I thought Newt was finished.  I thought he was a "has been," with too much baggage to get elected POTUS.  Then I started to listen to him during the debates and was I ever impressed! He is clearly the most experienced, the most intelligent and knowledgeable of all the GOP candidates.  He would wipe the floor with Obama in any debate. Next to Newt, Obama looks like a kid in diapers.  I don't know if the Republican establishment will take the risk of nominating Newt, but I think that if the voters get to see him as a presidential candidate, listen carefully to his arguments and positions, watch him mop the floor with Obama in the debates, and ignore the liberal MSM attacks on him, he could actually win the White House.

-- dagstd

Female voters, anyone?

Exactly what group would enthusiastically support this morally corrupt bombastic egotist?  Certainly not most women, who would find his marital history and his Tiffany's bedecked third trophy wife appalling.  Certainly not most of us with a memory of his "contract on America" and his corrupt history as speaker.  Now with the revelation of his huge "consulting fees" from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, we see just what sort of self-enriching scumbag old Newtster is.  Like the rest of the sorry field of GOP candidates, his only chance is for a gig on Rupert Murdoch's Lying Circus.  Newt is a prime example of what's wrong with Washington, yet he claims he can transform it.  What a laughingstock.

-- theantipalin

Forget Gingrich.  Romney's the GOP nominee, and one destined to fail

Gingrich has no chance ... nor does Cain or Perry. When Romney gets the GOP nod, the GOP base will nod off. How dense are you folks really? You do realize that McCain destroyed Romney in '08 and was then hammered by Obama, right? The GOP base hates Romney even more than they hated McCain ... given those facts ... how does Romney win? I'm all ears.

-- BartA58

Imagining an Obama-Gingrich match-up

Gingrich is a much more capable candidate than he is given credit for.  He isn't perfect -- no man is, but he'd make a much better president than Barack Obama.

Obama is a fine human being, a devoted husband and father -- and for that he has my respect.  His demeanor is without equal.  He rarely loses his temper, and carries himself with a cool confidence that nobody can come close to.  As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said of FDR, Obama has "a first-class temperament".

Beyond Obama's style, though, one must look for substance.  When you peel away the layers of the onion skin and see what lies beneath, one thing becomes clear: there are very few core convictions, and his flailing (and failing) presidency is a direct reflection of his lack of experience.

Obama could have and should have put healthcare reform on the back burner and instead concentrate on energizing the economy and staving off unemployment.  He did neither.  Now, $4 trillion later, (the national debt just crossed the $15 trillion threshold this week) we teeter on the precipice of economic ruin, and the present administration's fallback position continues to be that everything's the fault of the previous administration.  Don't look at us, we're just janitors cleaning up somebody else's mess.

America will not reelect a president who slouches his way through a crisis.

-- GregMaragos

Why such short memories?  It's the same guy!

There's nothing new about Newt Gingrich.  He's an original signer of the No New Taxes pledges, and a big supporter of Grover Norquist and that NeoCon Starve The Beast movement to paralyze government. This is the guy who engineered the tax cuts which set the stage for the national fiscal crises.  He may hope that people forget, but there are plenty of reminders, such as the new article by Tim Dickenson in Rolling Stone, reviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, for anyone who needs a detailed history up to present-day problems.  New Newt?  Only in his imagination.  He is the personification of the mean-spirited Republican. 

-- Observer26

*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.

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--Julia Gabrick

Credit: Daron Dean / Reuters

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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