Which Republican Candidate Is Really The One With “Big Ideas”?
Russ Douthat says it’s not Newt,
I am at a loss to identify the “big ideas” and “big solutions” that he is supposedly campaigning on. Yes, he has an implausible supply-side tax plan, but you never hear him talk about it. He has technically signed on to some form of entitlement reform, but you never hear him talk about that, either. Instead, so far as I can tell, his “idea-oriented” campaign consists almost entirely of promising to hold Lincoln-Douglas-style debates with President Obama, grandstanding about media bias and moderator stupidity, defending his history of ideological flexibility much more smoothly than Mitt Romney, and then occasionally throwing out a wonky-sounding notion (like, say, outsourcing E-Verify to American Express) that’s more glib than genuinely significant.
Time and again, in debate after debate, he’s circled back to a few core issues that set him apart from the rest of the field: His focus on reviving U.S. manufacturing; his emphasis on the links between poverty, opportunity and family breakdown; his record of ideological consistency on the issues (health care, climate change, the Wall Street bailout etc.) that are supposedly most important to Republican voters in the Obama era. I wouldn’t want to see him rewarded with the White House: Some of his policy prescriptions are half-baked, and many of views — particularly on foreign policy — are alarmist, foolish and extreme. But he’s been more doggedly substantive throughout the debates than Gingrich, he’s done far more to raise issues that don’t always get aired in the national debate, and he’s drawn contrasts primarily on policy grounds rather than relying on media-bashing and boasts about his own intellectual prowess.Click here for reuse options!
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