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Assessing the GOP Field

In this morning's Washington Post, two op-ed columns look at the GOP field.
Richard Cohen accuses Newt Gingrich of dishonesty, but I am not sure he makes the case. I do not perceive dishonesty in Gingrich. I think he is completely sincere, but perhaps a bit too ready to believe his own propaganda or whatever conservative item he read yesterday. What threatens Gingrich's candidacy is not any dishonesty but his lack of discipline. A presidential campaign is a kind of job interview in which voters assess not only a person's policy proposals and values, but someone's character and fitness for office. Most Americans know they want a steady hand at the rudder, and Gingrich does not appear to have the self-discipline needed to steer the ship of State. By way of contrast, if you look back at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, when President Obama made fun of Donald Trump, joking that the decisions Trump had to make on his television show were the kinds of things that would keep Obama up at night, little did we know that, while he made the joke, the President was aware that his sleep might be interrupted that very same evening, having already ordered the mission that captured bin Laden. Obama was cool as a cucumber. Gingrich is never cool.
Michael Gerson points to some of the challenges facing any GOP candidate, and how Huckabee's decision not to run may create a path for Tim Pawlenty. But, Gerson's suggestion that Pawlenty could capture Huckabee's populism is far-fetched. Just watch the two in action. Huckabee is at ease in front of a camera. Watching Pawlenty, with his small hand gestures, more calculated than a math exam, is painful. You want to run up on the stage and whisper into his ear, "Exhale." Populism is not so much an ideology as a manner and a method, and Pawlenty is the last person who will be able to evoke Huckabee's folksy charm.


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November 20-December 3, 2015


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