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In recent weeks Chuck Norris has been writing (part 1, part 2) about the qualities that he believes are important in the Republican Presidential candidate which ended with an endorsement for Newt Gingrich (link). While his list may be good or bad, the real question is whether he honestly applies his own criteria.
He doesn't. Not if he's forcing the square pegs of Newt Gingrich into those round holes. The guy has the stability of a white water raft. His entire life reflects this.
The 10 Questions of Chuck Norris:
1) Who is most committed to follow and lead by the U.S. Constitution?
Newt Gingrich fully ignores the 5th Amendment's right to due process by endorsing Presidential assasssination lists a la Barack Obama's Al Awlaki killing as well as disregarding the 4th Amendment's right to privacy vis a vis endorsing the Patriot Act. With standards like that, why should he even take an oath to defend it?
Jack Hunter also has an interesting piece regarding Newt's foreword to a 1995 book endorsing killing off our current form of government. (link)
2) Who has the greatest ability to rally, unify and mobilize citizens across political and societal spectrums?
Newt is as divisive a politician as any in recent American history. His solution to solve problems is to bitterly wage war and grandstand, claiming some superior moral high ground. How does he propose to reach out to black communities? Insult them by saying they should "demand paychecks and not be satisfied with foodstamps". (link)
That's recent without even digging into his past ethics violations as Speaker of the House (link; which was the first time in American history a Speaker of the House was punished for ethics violations), his "petty" (Newt's own words) reaction to not getting what he wanted on Air Force One as House Speaker (link) which led to a government shut down, and numerous disparaging remarks to many communities over his career as (satirically) covered by Jon Stewart (link).
That's some unifier.
3) Who has the best working comprehension of America?
To flesh this out, Norris adds: "The degree to which one comprehends America's ebbs and flows parallels one's proficiency to lead. As the adage goes, if one doesn't know history, he is doomed to repeat its mistakes."
Yes, Newt is a historian, but that will help as much as President Obama being a Constitutional lawyer helped in defending the Constitution. It really only means that whatever Newt wants to do he'll be able to pull the historic "facts" that help make his case since he clearly never applies history to defend the Constitution. Examples to come...
4) Who has the best ability to influence a volatile world away from the brink of destruction?
The "influencer" called for the assassination of Iranian scientists, which has since been done resulting only in the escalation of tension between Israel, Iran and us. Hardly a step back from the brink.
Luckily, Wired has detailed some of Newt's more "nuanced" positions on foreign policy and defense (link) with such gems as saying that Iran would install a democracy by 2004, that's Newt circa 2002, clearly since he contemplates a military regime change his prediction fell short. Hey, it happens, but he failed to predict the rising threat of terrorism and overstated North Korea's threat. I'm all for failed predictions, at least you have a view, but when your overreaction can start a war over false assumptions then there's reason to question your judgment. Republicans should have questioned George W Bush's judgment, but he was largely untouched.
To repeat, Newt is calling for a regime change, peaceful or militarily as well as assassination of their scientists. He's openly stated it should all be done covertly with deniability. The historian forgets that this is exactly what caused Iran's revolution in 1979, our 1953 coup to install the Shah by overthrowing the democratically elected Mosaddegh.
5) Who has clear and present moral fortitude?
Even if you overlook Newt's personal life -- he admittedly had affairs on his first and second wife & according to the 2nd wife he also asked for an open marriage (link) -- you should acknowledge his aforementioned ethics violations as a sign of shaky moral foundation. Another disconcerting moment came in a CBS News debate when Gingrich stated that Al Awlaki was convicted by a panel, the panel he's referring to is a secret CIA panel -- not a judicial conviction -- who has released no evidence (link). Supporting such a system for executing an American is in no way fortifying the moral system of laws that is a staple of what sets America apart.
Newton also does not think that waterboarding is torture (link) which is amazing considering the historian cannot recall that it was treated as such after WWII resulting in the hanging of Japanese officers (link). Either Newt is a bad historian or he's being selective with his facts, neither speaks well for the Speaker.
He also supports the death penalty for drug smuggling (link), and while I am not a drug user I want no part of that sort of morality.
6) Who has the best chance of beating President Obama, in and outside of debates?
If winning an argument means sounding the best in the moment and winning public opinion then I'll certainly give props to Newt on this one, he will say whatever it takes to score a point. However, if being right is what's considered to win debates then Newt will get tossed around in the debate's aftermath. Not only is his fact checking awful in followups from debates -- as noted by Awlaki & his views on the legality of torture -- but he also cannot even get the facts of his own life right. Not only did Newt lie about being a historian for Freddie Mac and received in the area of $1.6mm for "strategic advice" while primarily being in direct contact with Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist (link), but he was wanting John McCain to demand Barack Obama return contributions from Freddie & Fannie (link, transcribed by TPM). You have to think this will be run a few times.
Even if "best chance" means just overall beating him in the election then according to the latest CNN poll Mitt Romney & Ron Paul are the only contenders who statistically tie with President Obama while Newt is -9% (link).
In a political debate your record of consistency matters, Newt does not have it and will get shellacked over it (link).
7) Who has the best abilities to lead Washington politics and politicians?
What was Newt's first major campaign action after announcing his candidacy on May 11th (link)? By the end of the month he was on a Greek vacation (link) which was a factor for his staff quitting on June 9th (link), not even a full month into his campaign. People quit campaigns all the time, but your entire staff quitting before the first month? Recently his "relentlessly positive campaign" -- since he was killed in Iowa -- has taken a few detours into negative campaigning (link on Mitt's Romneycare for abortions & Planned Parenthood, link on Ron Paul "stunningly dangerous").
What about as Speaker of the House? He resigned early (link). So the result of all his magnificent leading was his party forcing him to resign? I can't imagine the sign of a good leader is being chased out once attaining the role of leader. It's one thing to be an outsider, but to be an insider-turned-outcast is nothing to be proud of on a resume.
8) Who has the best plan and leadership ability to restore America's economy?
What's most interesting about the Speaker's Economic Plan (link), is that he wants to break up Fannie & Freddie whereas in the past he not only took paychecks from Freddie, but even more astounding is that in a 2007 interview with Freddie he clearly had a different position, stating: "So while we need to improve the regulation of the GSEs, I would be very cautious about fundamentally changing their role or the model itself". Not only did he not predict the economic crash (someone else did), but he was championing the backbone of the bubble all the way until it popped! The man has no clue about economics let alone the ability to understand how policy will affect the economic climate.
Point #7 of his Economic Plan is to "Balance the budget", but how? Well, "by growing the economy, controlling spending, implementing money saving reforms, and replacing destructive policies and regulatory agencies with new approaches." Naturally there are absolutely no spending cuts mentioned, no timeline and therefore no real plan to balance the budget. Unless he thinks he can knock out a $1.6 Trillion deficit without making any noteworthy changes. He has no plan.
9) Who is the most fiscally prudent?
There is absolutely no way having two lines of debt at Tiffany's worth as much $1mm is anywhere near the sanity of being called "fiscally prudent" (link), and Newt was rightly raked over the coals for it by Bob Schieffer (YouTube link).
Gingrich's Social Security reform includes a public pension account option which “the government guarantees that all workers with personal accounts will receive at least as much in retirement as they would under the current Social Security system”, Forbes' Jeffrey Brown wisely points out that publicly guaranteeing a minimum return is a potential fiscal nightmare (to gravely understate it) and a moral hazard in waiting (link). When will we learn that there is an inherent flaw when the government backs investments? You simply cannot remove the element of risk in the marketplace if you wish the market to work properly. To think otherwise is fiscally irresponsible.
10) Who has demonstrated the highest regard for human life?
Pretending that abandoning two wives amidst life challenging afflictions does not apply here, instead let the focus be on policy. Newt's regard for life is that if he becomes President Gingrich then human life survives at his whim. Of his enemies he says, "Kill them," and of anyone he considers a terrorist, kill them (without any judicial oversight / due process), if you're an Iranian scientist he suspects of nuclear practice, "covertly" kill them (transcript, CBS News debate), if you're running drugs? Kill them. Seems like a one size fits all solution, and completely lacking any respect for human life. Creating safety for the public should not come at the expense of the public becoming the collateral damage in the effort to do so, or human life in general.
If you're to have both high respect for the Constitution and human life, then brandishing your own sword of justice is not the way of our national leader. Not if we are to set a moral standard for the entire world. The wars and sanctions in Iraq has cost upwards of a million innocent lives. The sanctions alone were responsible for half a million Iraqi children dying (link). How many innocent lives are justified in bad foreign policy? Newt certainly isn't looking to rein in the abuse of powers if he thinks that he alone has the power to take a life.
I hope Mr Norris is open to reconsidering his endorsement if that is indeed his criteria, along with anyone else with a similar set of guidelines. Newt is wrong, Barack Obama is not the enemy, but rather the enemy is politics as usual. He is the insider's pariah, do not let the prodigal son return.