I flipped over Newt Gingrich today. I'd have liked to flip him off, but he wasn't around, so I flipped over his book. My minor protest against the prominent display in our local Borders of his screed "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine". I know, someone else will simply flip it back, but, with luck, it stayed flipped over for at least long enough for me to get out of the store.
I've never particularly liked Gingrich, ever since he effectively derailed the Clinton presidency's ability to make substantive changes. Bringing the US Government to a shuddering halt didn't endear him to me, either. I know that there are people who do like him, and I was willing to give him another chance when I'd heard that he was trying to reinvent himself as an 'elder statesman', but it seems to me that the only thing that's gotten older is his hair -- not what's underneath it. Reading that he's of the opinion that Obama is the most radical President ever also gave me pause, though for a different reason -- I wondered if any President could be called 'radical'. I know that anyone in that office who thinks that it's the responsibility of the government to watch out for society in general and people in particular will always be regarded with disdain and contempt by the relentlessly conservative, so I suppose that actually doing something that generations have wanted to do -- getting health care reform passed -- likely drove those conservatives right up a tree. The sight of a Democrat who got things done probably chilled them right down to their shorts.
I continue to think (though, I suppose I should admit, with slowly waning belief that it will ever happen) that conservatism can bring value to the political debate, because I know that liberals would have government do more than it ought to, would try to institute legislative defenses against things that fall into the same category as acts of nature. Some of those things can't be stopped -- at least, not in any cost-effective way. Some, you just have to live with. I believe that, and so I think that when conservatives worry about the increasing role of government, they have something worthwhile to say.
But when they choose people like Gingrich as their spokesman -- not to mention the You Betcha lady (sorry, I prefer not to say her name -- just thinking it makes me want to puke, just a little) - well, then they're asking not to be taken seriously. And so I don't.