Thursday, July 20, 2006

# Posted 6:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NEWT! The man is everywhere. Hawking his book. Hawking his presidential aspirations. In yesterday's edition of USA Today, Newt argued that the Israelis are behaving exactly as any red-blooded American would. If someone were shooting missiles at us, we'd blast the hell out of them.

Although I have my reservations about the extent of Israeli reprisals, I think Newt hit the nail on the head. Americans would do exactly the same thing in the Israelis' position, good idea or no.

For some more insightful analysis of the situation in Lebanon, check out Dennis Ross' column, which ran just above Newt's on the USA Today op-ed page.

But the real issue with regard to Newt isn't any single idea he has, but the fact that he is so aggressively packaging himself as a man of ideas. A man of ideas who can save the GOP.

Although there are probably better subjects to write about, TNR devoted its cover to an analysis of Newt's latest PR blitz. Not surprisingly, the cover story is fairly patronizing. Its message can be summed up by the observation (made by a Republican I think), that Newt has a whole closet in his office stuffed with new ideas and a very small desk drawer filled with good, new ideas.

What is surprising about the TNR cover story is how little truly negative material about Newt there is in it. One mention of the fine he paid for misuse of funds, some material about his interest in consolidating the GOP control on K Street. But really, there wasn't much of an effort to remind liberals why they hated Newt's guts back in the mid-1990s.

If Newt's self-promotion actually results in a serious bid for the GOP nomination, I'm guessing that TNR and others will rediscover the old Newt rather quickly.
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

I've always assumed that Newt was disliked because:
1) Low charisma
2) He's an excitable ideas guy with tons of ideas, not always good. That comes off as "exciteable ideologue," which is going to be off-putting to lots of people
3) Attempts to actually meaningfully shrink government or reduce government spending. Most Democrats (esp. politicians) seem to prefer Republican Congressional leadership that engages in bipartisan pork. Perhaps it's too much to say, but many seem like they'd prefer incompetent big government to smaller government.
Maybe there never was any there there. His womanizing hurt, but that hasn't disqualified anybody yet. Why did the Dems and media hate Newt? Mostly because he was successful, and quite abrasive in his after-hours House tirades.
Don't forget that Newt had a habit of red-baiting that skirted the borders of honesty.

Exguru mentions Newt's after hours tirades. Well, one trick Newt used was that he challenged the Democrats to respond to his accusations right then and there on the House floor.

Of course, the Democrats had gone home hours earlier. But Newt understood that the CSPAN cameras focused only on the front of the House, so no one at home could tell the House was empty. Instead, it seemed like the Democrats were afraid to respond to Newt's accusations.

Outraged, Tip O'Neill ordered the cameras to periodically pan across the House chamber, demonstrating that it was almost empty. This put an end to Newt's habit.
You write, "I think Newt hit the nail on the head. Americans would do exactly the same thing in the Israelis' position, good idea or no."

I've heard this same line several times on FOX News, et al, and I think it's just false. America was attacked on September 11th, but it waited until October to attack Afghanistan, even though it lost 3,000 people. Israel loses eight soldiers to gunfire, two to kidnapping, and sets out the next day to invade Lebanon (a country not as supportive of Hezbollah as the Taliban was of al-Qaida).

America shored up its allies, set out a plan, and effectively invaded, unlike Israel's seemingly unplanned and messy current intervention in Lebanon.

I think we should give America more credit: 9/11 didn't make them bomb Afghanistan the next day. And therefore, Newt's analysis of the situation is demonstrably wrong.


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