Herman Cain shot to the top of the Republican field with his unique 9-9-9 tax plan. His plan was praised and criticized, but voters seemed to like it. Rates were low and the plan was easy to understand. The most controversial part of the plan was the 9% federal consumption tax which was criticized by liberals and progressives alike. As usual with Washington, politics entered the fray and instead of having an intellectual discussion about the substance of Cain’s plan the messenger was knocked out with a punch, a jab, and a left hook.
But such eruptions and last minute scandals don’t always destroy a campaign or a presidency. Just take a look at Bill Clinton. No president has had a bigger reputation for being a lady’s man than Bill. He may owe his election to his wife, Hillary, who stood by her man on national television. He survived an impeachment trial in the Senate over his White House escapades, but his presidency will be tarnished for his dalliance with a White House intern, his disbarment from the practice of law, and his famous line, “…I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky...”
George W. Bush survived a last minute revelation of his arrest for driving under the influence during the waning hours of the 2000 presidential election. It seems George liked to party in his younger days, and the main stream media made sure that the American people knew all about it just hours before the polls opened. The result was a loss by George Bush of the popular vote but a victory in the electoral college and eight years as president. The charge did taint his presidency because many people felt that, without winning the popular vote, George Bush didn’t really win the election. Of course he did win because the popular vote doesn’t elect the president, the electoral college does.
So scandals do affect political campaigns. How badly the campaign is affected just depends. Which brings us to Newt Gingrich? Newt is easily the smartest guy running for president this year. But the media continues to talk about Newt’s baggage. Three marriages. A reputation for being difficult to work with. And an ego the size of Texas. Just a few days ago Gingrich announced that he was the inevitable nominee of his party. This is an ego of huge proportions, and in the interview it looked like he had an out of control ego especially considering that the first caucus is still a month away.
What neither the media nor anyone else can criticize is Newt Gingrich’s excellent debating skills, his knowledge of the issues, and his brilliance. Newt Gingrich can go toe to toe with Barack Obama. Unlike the other candidates, Newt Gingrich has proposed specific solutions to specific problems, like immigration. Those statements have caused Newt some heat but show he has thought through the complex issue of immigration and how to deal with those who have illegally entered our country and have been here for a very long time. Other candidates talk in generalities, wanting to sound intelligent but not wanting to say so much as to alienate voters. Politicians like being all things to all people. The problem is when the dust settles the voters have no idea what the candidates’ positions are. Good for jockeying and sometimes votes, but bad for the country.
Newt Gingrich has proposed a very interesting debate format for this campaign. He proposes a series of Lincoln-Douglas style, free-wheeling debates to discuss the issues and problems facing America and the world we live in. This would be an outstanding series of events that would give the American people an unfettered and unedited view of the candidates. The media would be reduced to observers just like the public, and the American people could see firsthand how the candidates handle themselves and how and where they propose to take America over the next four years. What a great way to know and understand the next President.
The first caucus will take place in Iowa on January 3rd of next year. A few weeks later New Hampshire will vote and then South Carolina. By the time these votes are taken we should have a pretty good idea of where the Republican race is going. Candidates performing poorly will have dropped out, and the field will have narrowed. Once the Republican nominee is chosen the real campaign will start and begin focusing in earnest on the issues that affect America’s future, like Obama Care, national defense, the federal budget, and taxation. And the sooner that debate can begin the better.
by Lawrence Chehardy