Thomas Sowell’s perspective on this presidential election is highly valuable because he’s prone to cutting through the inevitable spin. Dr. Sowell is equally prone to cut to the chase when it comes to the important things.
That’s what Dr. Sowell did in his latest column. Here’s a particularly powerful insight into the presidential race:
Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don’t accomplish much, you don’t ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.
If that sounds familiar to LFR readers, it’s probably because I wrote here that Mitt Romney doesn’t have any conservative accomplishments:
Frankly, Mitt doesn’t have anything that could be considered a conservative accomplishment. That’s what makes Ann Coulter’s endorsement so puzzling. What’s Ms. Conservative Movement doing endorsing a candidate that’s this far removed from the conservative movement?
Rather than look only at Mitt’s lack of conservative credentials, let’s look at who’s got a lengthy list of conservative accomplishments through Dr. Sowell’s eyes:
While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich’s candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years, followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it “the Clinton surplus” but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.
Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.
Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.
Calling the surpluses “Clinton surpluses” is what I’d expect from a Clintonista spinmeister, which are legion. Before Gingrich proposed balancing the budget in the Contract With America, there wasn’t serious talk about balancing the budget in DC. Newt Gingrich and John Kasich were the only people talking seriously about balancing the federal budget.
After President Clinton, Speaker Gingrich and then-Chairman Kasich finished negotiations on that first Clinton-Gingrich-Kasich budget, the course was set to consecutive balanced budgets.
Mitt talks about how important it is to have worked in the private sector to understand how to create jobs. My question for Mitt is simple. What private sector experience did President Reagan, President Clinton or Speaker Gingrich have in the private sector when economic growth was explosive?
I’d argue that Mitt’s argument is phony at best. As this trio of men proved, great economies haven’t been created by presidents with extensive private sector experience.
Dr. Sowell isn’t the only person who’s noticed the accomplishment gap and the gravitas gap between Gov. Romney and Speaker Gingrich:
Newt’s past performance and record of accomplishments are exactly what we need in Washington. While revisionist historians would like to credit the tremendous success of the 1990s to Bill Clinton, all Bill Clinton had to show before Newt Gingrich’s leadership in the House was a failed stimulus plan, a failed attempt at national health care, a major tax increase, a bill to restrict Second Amendment rights, and midnight basketball. Then, Newt took over and reform came to Washington.
It was not Bill Clinton who displayed the political courage to hold the line on federal spending, leading to the first balanced budget in four decades and four consecutive balanced budgets. It was the House of Representatives, led by Newt Gingrich. It was not Bill Clinton who crafted the welfare reform that lifted millions out of poverty. Instead, Clinton twice vetoed welfare reform. It was wholly a consequence of the dogged determination of Newt Gingrich’s House of Representatives that Bill Clinton finally agreed to making welfare a bridge to work and not a dead end of dependency.
Congress, and not Bill Clinton, pushed the tax cut of 1997 with a capital gains cut that produced millions of jobs. These huge accomplishments would not have taken place without Newt Gingrich’s vision and leadership. We desperately need that leadership in the Oval Office today.
This is why Newt is the best candidate to face President Obama. He’s actually worked with Democrats to get the conservative agenda signed into law. Unlike Mitt, he didn’t cave into the Democrats’ demands. Newt fought with President Clinton until he won major conservative victories.
This video is a highlight reel of Newt’s best moments from this morning’s NBC/Meet the Press/Facebook debate:
Here’s my favorite Newt moment from the debate:
SPEAKER GINGRICH: You know David, I find it fascinating that very, very highly paid Washington commentators and Washington analysts love the concept of pain. Who’s going to be in pain? The duty of the president is to find a way to manage the federal government so that the primary pain is in changing the federal bureaucracy.
If we eliminated theft alone, we could save $100,000,000,000 in Medicaid and Medicare if the federal government were competent. That’s $1,000,000,000,000 over 10 years and the only people in pain would be crooks. (APPLAUSE) So I think a sound approach is to actually improve the government, not punish the American people because of the failure of the political class to have any sense of cleverness.
Mitt’s governing mindset has been that of being risk averse. He hasn’t rocked any liberal’s boat. Newt, by contrast, has been constant, passionate, construcive confrontation.
Mitt’s history was devoid of fighting for conservative principles until he started running for president. Then, miracle of miracles, Mitt became pro-life, a lifetime member of the NRA and a Reagan conservative.
In 1994, while Newt was putting together the Contract With America and making history, Mitt Romney was running from President Reagan’s legacy:
Yes, Newt’s said things that I’ve disagreed with. Newt’s said that he’s been wrong before, which I accepted as a sincere apology. Mitt’s run away from conservatives too often to trust. That’s just reality.