In an op-ed piece published last Friday in the Washington Post, conservative columnist George Will, evaluated the candidacies of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, and found both men sorely lacking as presidential candidates. Romney is dismissed as a modern day John Dewey, smooth and credentialed, but someone nobody will come to like in the general election. Romney is also described by Will as a conservative of convenience.
Far more scorn is heaped on Gingrich. Here are the money quotes:
Gingrich, however, embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive. And there is his anti-conservative confidence that he has a comprehensive explanation of, and plan to perfect, everything.It is clear that Will thinks Huntsman is the best GOP candidate, with which I whole-heartily agree.
There is almost artistic vulgarity in Gingrich’s unrepented role as a hired larynx for interests profiting from such government follies as ethanol and cheap mortgages. His Olympian sense of exemption from standards and logic allowed him, fresh from pocketing $1.6 million from Freddie Mac (for services as a “historian”), to say, “If you want to put people in jail,” look at “the politicians who profited from” Washington’s environment.
His temperament — intellectual hubris distilled — makes him blown about by gusts of enthusiasm for intellectual fads, from 1990s futurism to “Lean Six Sigma” today. On Election Eve 1994, he said a disturbed South Carolina mother drowning her children “vividly reminds” Americans “how sick the society is getting, and how much we need to change things. . . . The only way you get change is to vote Republican.” Compare this grotesque opportunism — tarted up as sociology — with his devious recasting of it in a letter to the Nov. 18, 1994, Wall Street Journal (http://bit.ly/vFbjAk). And remember his recent swoon over the theory that “Kenyan, anti-colonial” thinking explains Barack Obama.
Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how. Conservatism, in contrast, is both cause and effect of modesty about understanding society’s complexities, controlling its trajectory and improving upon its spontaneous order. Conservatism inoculates against the hubristic volatility that Gingrich exemplifies and Genesis deplores: “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”
Romney might not be a Dewey. Gingrich might stop being (as Churchill said of John Foster Dulles) a bull who carries his own china shop around with him. But both are too risky to anoint today.