And so in the end, it comes down to this: The only chance to prevent Newt Gingrich from going forward strengthened, with a chance of winning the GOP nomination, is to vote for the guy no one seems to actively like: Mitt Romney.
Staying home does no good. Voting for Ron Paul or Rick Santorum does no good, however much you may like them. They can’t deny this victory to Newt Gingrich, so a vote for them is a waste. (So is a vote for any of those who have dropped out, but are still on the ballot. I like Huntsman, too — but a vote for him doesn’t stop Newt Gingrich.)
Only Romney still has some slim chance of defeating Newt Gingrich today, so I’m urging everyone to get out and vote for him.
And don’t fool yourself into thinking it makes no difference. It makes a HUGE difference. Don’t fall for any of these rationalizations:
“It doesn’t matter; even if Newt wins South Carolina, Romney will win the nomination.” Don’t assume that. In fact, Gallup reported yesterday that what has happened in South Carolina over the past week-and-a-half has been happening, somewhat less dramatically, elsewhere in the country: Gingrich is catching Romney in national polls. The word Gallup used to describe what’s happening to Romney is “collapsing.”
“It doesn’t matter; Gingrich would never beat Obama, so the nation would be in no danger.” Don’t ever assume that — an infinite variety of things could happen to throw an election from the incumbent to the challenger. And by not voting to stop Gingrich today, you will have helped put him in the White House.
“OK, so maybe the Republican would win the election. In that case it still doesn’t matter, because I don’t like either Mitt or Newt.” This is the one on which you are most wrong.
Newt Gingrich would be a disaster for the United States of America. He would tear the country apart like nothing any of us have seen in our lifetimes. To say nothing of our relations with other countries.
Remember Bush Derangement Syndrome? (How could you forget? Republicans are suffering from a related disease today.) That was nothing. George W. Bush was just this guy, you know? Pretty average. A conservative guy, somewhat given to Texan swagger. That was about it. But Democrats hated him, practically spitting at the mention of his name.
But Gingrich would be all of the things that Democrats imagine Bush was, and on steroids.
None of us, in our lifetimes, have seen a president of the United States who would do what Newt Gingrich would do every single day in office: Try to infuriate and insult half the country, and most of the world. He delights in insulting, demeaning and belittling anyone who disagrees with him. And you know that right from the start, half the country would fit into that category. And that category would grow, as everything he says is magnified by the curvature of the presidential bubble.
All politicians occasionally say things that alienate a lot of people. But with rare exceptions, they don’t do it on purpose. The utter contempt and hostility with which Newt Gingrich regards most of the human race is a palpable thing, and it is intentional. When other politicians say something that alienates or demoralizes the country or inflames other nations, the try to do damage control. Newt Gingrich would instead strut about the stage, immensely pleased with himself.
He would be a complete disaster for this country. You may think that could be said with justice of other politicians you don’t like, but they are nothing to Newt.
Now, as for Mitt Romney — well, I can’t give you a ringing endorsement. About the only thing I can say I like about him is that he is not an ideologue. That’s what the most partisan Republicans — the one’s flocking to Gingrich — don’t like about him. They call him a flip-flopper. That’s because he is a manager, a turn-around artist. His goal would be to run the country well and efficiently, not to enact grand ideological schemes. That’s not enough to make anyone’s heart go pitter-pat, but it’s something. And it beats tearing the country apart.
Read The State‘s endorsement. It gives good reasons why Romney is the best — or at least the least bad — option, now that Huntsman is out of it. Read Cindi Scoppe’s accompanying column, as well. The headline on the endorsement is, “Romney has capacity to build bridges.” I think he does.
But at this point, Mitt Romney is more than the “least-bad” option. He’s the one guy who can stop Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich not only has the power to blow bridges up; he can’t wait to plant the charges.
And that’s why any South Carolinian who cares about the country needs to vote for Mitt Romney today.