Monday, January 23, 2012

Polar Opposites

As I read David Frum's take-down of Newt Gingrich today, what struck me is that there couldn't be two people more polar opposite one another than President Obama and Newt Gingrich.

I had a little fun last night with the contrast in how these two men have approached marriage and family. But the truth is - they have opposite histories when it comes to how they've lived their private lives.

But here's what struck me about what Frum had to say.

To drive home the supposed values separation between the Kerry ticket and the nation, Gingrich urged the Bush ticket to focus attacks on a series of issues that highlighted that supposed 4:1 values divide, including:

"1. A work requirement for welfare: 87% of Americans say yes, 5% no. John Kerry and the Senate Democrats have blocked the bill for three years.

2. Government should help faith-based initiatives help the poor: 72% of Americans agree, 26% disagree; Kerry is with the 26%.

3. U.S. interests are more important than international organizations: 73-24; Kerry's positions favor the 24%.

4. Violent attackers of pregnant women who kill the baby should be prosecuted for killing the baby: 84% of Americans say yes, 9% no. Kerry voted no.

5. Children should be allowed to pray at school: 78% of Americans agree; Kerry is against it."

Looking back on that Gingrich platform from the perspective of eight years later, it's striking how utterly irrelevant those five highlighted points were to the largest problems of the time.

It does not address the inflating housing bubble and the lax financial regulations that would wreak such disaster in the years ahead.

It does not address stagnating incomes or rising health costs.

It does not address Iraq or Iran or the war in Afghanistan.

That's not to say Gingrich did not have strong views on those questions. He did, of course. It's just that, to Gingrich, such substantive issues were not the stuff of campaign politics. Campaign politics was about finding ways to define your opponent as alien, hostile and dangerous. The definition need not correspond to any actual real-world problem.
(Emphasis mine)

The polar opposite approach:


  1. OT? I wanted to draw your attention to this piece by Lizza on The Prez based on briefing memos:

    1. Thanks nellcote.

      I've seen it but haven't gotten through the whole thing yet - perhaps over the weekend.