(x-posted on ACT NOW)
It looks like Rick Perry isn't the only one with an "oops" moment these days. Like many primary-watchers, I completely misread the Newt Gingrich situation. Just a month ago, I referred to Intrade's seemingly overstated forecast of Gingrich's 11% chances of winning the nomination as "madness." Now, his Intrade odds stand at 35% and he leads in most polls, including those in Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Oops.
At the very least, I'm in good company. According to the Times on Thursday:
Obama campaign officials readily admit that they did not see Mr. Gingrich’s emergence as a Republican front-runner coming, and that they did not begin to focus on him as a truly viable and potential nominee until Herman Cain’s candidacy collapsed over the last several weeks.
There is also an interesting piece by The New Yorker's John Cassidy, exploring this development.
Frankly, there's still some part of me that just can't believe it. Newt Gingrich? Really? Is the GOP about to trade a relatively bland, highly electable Obama-alternative in for a presidential suicide bomber?
But what do I know? I would have thought that being a $1,600,000 "historian" for Freddie Mac would have been a disqualifier given the Republican orthodoxy that Fannie and Freddie caused the financial crisis. In 2007, as the housing crisis got rolling, Gingrich had a piece on the Freddie website itself, now -- for some reason -- only available through archive.org's WayBack Machine, saying:
I like the GSE model [Fannie and Freddie] because it provides a more efficient, market-based alternative to taxpayer-funded government programs. It marries private enterprise to a public purpose.
Let's just be clear about this: it's Republican dogma that the GSEs were responsible for the recession that cost several trillion dollars in economic losses, exploded the national debt, and destroyed over 6 million jobs. The GSEs may also have caused the Civil War and killed off the dinosaurs. In the conservative catechism, they are diabolical. But the GOP is about to nominate a man whom the putative culprits paid $1,600,000 to be an unofficial lobbyist, who publicly praised Freddie's business model on its own website just as the housing bubble began to burst? I...just...don't...believe...it.
I have long been convinced that the GOP has gone off the deep end. But this much internal inconsistency seems to violate the laws of physics. If this goes on much longer, the Republican Party is going to collapse under its own weight into a super-massive black hole of contradiction. I'd say that the odds of that happening are about 35%.
Currently majoring in Business & Public Policy at The Wharton School's MBA program, Andrew Solomon is one of the founding Board members of ACT NOW. He oscillates between voicing views that earn him censure and biting his tongue for the good of all (including himself). He summarizes his political philosophy as "progressive ends, pragmatic means." You can reach him at solomon [at] actnowny.org. More by Andrew at http://www.actnowny.org/