Amollo: Gingrich could have trouble within the GOP


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State

Newt Gingrich makes his way through a standing room only crowd on Sunday, Jan. 1 at West Towne Pub in Ames. Crowd memebers included a a group of high school students from Ohio in Iowa to learn about the caucus.

Benson Amollo

Newt Gingrich is in trouble. The former speaker of the House is now the victim of a leadership deficit — a hemorrhaging GOP, seemingly for lack of choice, might nominate him. Now comfortably ahead of his arch-rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in most opinion polls in Florida, the Gingrich factor is the new Republican primary wave.

Beating Romney in Florida will be a decisive pointer for Newt. It will be telling of how conservatives — contrived — would want him to face off with President Barack Obama in November. And that is the wrong end of town that Newt finds himself. From the beginning of the race, the historian Gingrich didn’t seem so dearly set on the prize. His ineptitude toward issues surrounding both his private and personal past sought to cast him as but another contender — perhaps, angling for the vice presidency.

Should Gingrich romp through the primaries, November comes to him a wounded soul. The dent the spotlight on his past brings to fore could be one irreparable regret for a politician of a fratricidal tragedy — he was once disowned by his own party and with not-so-much grace quit Congress. It’s such a record — that he chose to not address his past from the onset puts him at an impossible defensive where very long jugulars would be needed. Especially, he will be hard pressed to sail through the tide of an electorate hungering for jobs, when he, Newt, had the privilege of accepting easy money as a lobbyist.

And while it looks like the game is changing to Newt’s favor in the primaries — the hint of recruiting rival Rick Santorum to the ticket and the pandering of the Republican left, there’s a new parade of the jilted and the disgruntled within the GOP. The disenchanted Republican left, bought to the electability of Gov. Romney, is disparaged by Newt’s rise. They will, more than the Democrats, fracture his bid from within. There will be a sounding cry that would go like: weak, weak, weak! That lynch mob will be up to articulate through their own complex lenses of looking at the historian Newt in all the wrongs that would be difficult for him to right as President Obama’s challenger.

Gingrich shall have flickered and nudged by way of a sharp scrutiny from persons who not only measure up to him as his peers within the GOP, but also, watchers of his “storied” record as a Washington insider. Already, the Republican left is concerned over a presidency lacking the control of the House and Senate, should Newt’s candidature come true. In other words, they are hinting to the electorate, a negative tag that the former speaker bears when it comes to his relations with Washington Republicans. It doesn’t look too good. Thus, the argument that Romney, coming from Boston, is new to the ways of the Capitol and might be able to break through the network, make friends, stage some “control” and thus bring true the legislative pursuit of the GOP.

Equally, Newt still miserably fails to make the opinion poll gains against President Barack Obama — a situation in the eyes of pro-Romney GOP-ers doesn’t sit well with the party’s intent to dislodge the president. Romney somehow sends shivers to Obama’s numbers in that regard. And the question of whether Newt is the Republican Party’s best bet against Obama continues to be asked through the lenses of his link to the past. A past in which he, Gingrich, is associated with big money and corporate greed in ways that will be a tough vindication call. Whether his association with Freddie and Fannie Mae could be a mere “historian’s consultancy” gig would need much elaboration.

Gingrich also struggles to look and sound like the leader he needs to be. Often portrayed as a passing conservative — because his records show less conservatism — Newt Gingrich doesn’t seem to set himself up as the future president. Instead, he has fallen into a complaining, even whining tone, especially at the debates when the contest narrows down against Romney. Analyzing events with the tone of an insider casting for the outsider role, and aligning himself with the proverbial “man on the street,” it can be admirable sometimes for Gingrich. Except, when he gets it wrong, it quickly reminds anyone watching him of the real him — a Washington insider and a grand beneficiary of corporate greed!

Precisely, beating Barack Obama would need an audacious stock-pile of tact and a past that can be steered clear of. What Newt has to contend with — a philandering tag and a not-so-well executed divorce, besides complaints of complicity with the dreaded corporate world (at least in the eyes of ordinary folk) Obama doesn’t have to deal with. That sets Gingrich as a disadvantaged start.