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Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
2 Feb 2016
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Random Thoughts

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Grow Up!

Of all the many things said about Donald Trump, what was said by Roger Ailes, head of the Fox News Channel, … Read More.

Republican Voters' Choices


No one seems to be really happy with this year's field of Republican candidates for that party's presidential nomination — except perhaps the Democrats.

The sudden rise, and equally sudden fall, of a succession of Republican front-runners is just one sign of the dissatisfaction of the Republican voters with this field of candidates.

In this, as in many other aspects of life, we can only make our choice among the options actually available. So Republican voters who want to be realistic need to understand that they are going to end up with qualms and nagging doubts about whomever they pick this time.

Not all voters want to be realistic, of course. Some voters, whether Democrats, Republicans or independents, treat elections as occasions to vent their emotions, rather than as a process to pick someone into whose hands to place the fate of the nation.

People who think this way tend to vote for someone they just happen to like, whether for personal or ideological reasons, and regardless of whether that candidate has any realistic chance of being elected.

The surprising support in the polls for Congressman Ron Paul seems to be of this sort. But does anyone seriously want to put the fate of this nation in the hands of a man who can casually brush aside the danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism?

Barring some astonishing surprise, the contest for the Republican nomination for president boils down to Mitt Romney versus Newt Gingrich. It is doubtful whether either of them is anyone's idea of an ideal candidate or a model of consistency.

The fact that each of the short-lived front-runners in the Republican field gained that position by presenting themselves as staunch conservatives suggests that Republican voters may have been trying to avoid having to accept Mitt Romney, whose record as governor of Massachusetts produced nothing that would be regarded as a serious conservative achievement.

Romney's own talking point that he has been a successful businessman is no reason to put him into a political office, however much it may be a reason for him to become a successful businessman again.

Perhaps the strongest reason for some voters to support Governor Romney is that the smart money says he is more "electable" than the other candidates in general and Newt Gingrich in particular.

But there was a time when even some conservative smart money types were saying that Ronald Reagan was too old to run for president, and that he should step aside for someone younger.

Washington Post editor Meg Greenfield said that the people in the Carter White House were "ecstatic" when the Republicans nominated Reagan, because they were convinced that they could clobber him.

Today, it is said that the Obama administration fears Romney, but would relish the opportunity to clobber Gingrich because of his "baggage." CNN has already started digging into Gingrich's most recent divorce.

Much depends on whether you think the voting public is going to be more interested in Newt Gingrich's personal past than in the country's future. Most of the things for which Gingrich has been criticized are things he did either in his personal life or when he was out of office. But, if we are serious, we are more concerned with his ability to perform when in office.

Even some of those who believe that Gingrich would devastate Obama in head-to-head debates on substantive issues nevertheless claim that all Obama has to do is come back with questions about Newt's work for failed mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac.

But, even at the personal, point-scoring level, Barack Obama can open up a can of worms by going that route, since Freddie Mac at least never planted bombs in public places, like some of Obama's political allies.

There are no guarantees, no matter whom the Republicans vote for in the primaries. Why not vote for the candidate who has shown the best track record of accomplishments, both in office and in the debates? That is Newt Gingrich. With all his shortcomings, his record shows that he knows how to get the job done in Washington.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



5 Comments | Post Comment
I have to disagree with the start of your post that "no one seems to be happy". Come join us in Mitt Romney Central chat. There are SO many people that love Romney. Unlike the others in this race he has remained steady and remained on course. Give him another look. Perhaps you'll be surprised at what you see.
Comment: #1
Posted by: DianaRae
Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:03 PM
What conservative deed has Romney led or championed?
Voters are mad about Obamacare and Wall Street bailouts., so the GOP answer is the Wall Street guy who invented Obamacare? Epic fail.
Furthermore, by not presenting a small government platform, he will have no mandate if elected. He will be unable to roll back the spending that is killing the dollar , the government, and the country.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Vagabundus
Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:56 PM
A logical look at the real accomplishments and capabilities of the candidates shows conclusively that Newt Gingrich has the experience, capability, knowledge, work ethic, and commitment to do this enormous job. Mitt Romney is indeed a businessman, and a good one, but so is Gingrich. Gingrich founded and ran Gingrich LLC which has 3 offices in 3 major cities, he founded the Center for Health Transformation also. All are solvent and making money. All provide jobs that are solid and expand the tax base. Gingrich has also written books, produced movies, and is a History professor. In writing books he also supports a solid business establishment, publishing, which employs hundreds of thousand people, the same in producing movies. As a historian, he is well aware of our history, the mistakes that have been made, and how to avoid them. As a Representative he helped reform welfare, reduce the deficit, cut taxes, balance the budget, create millions of jobs bringing unemployment down to 4.2%. Darn, that sound like what we need to do again. This man has already done it, and knows how to do it again. Political, private, business, diplomatic, experience. He can hit the ground running, day one, on the job and DOING the job! Hands down.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Faith Martin
Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:37 PM
Re: Faith Martin My concernes about Newt are brilliantly outlined in Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell
Comment: #4
Posted by: Vagabundus
Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:56 PM
It's disingenuous to casually dismiss Ron Paul's position on Iran as being one of "casually brush aside the danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism".
Because in doing so you "casually brush aside" the obvious epic failures the United States has reaped from the previous recent attempts to meddle in the affairs of nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you think active military --that's right, active military-- are "casually brushing aside" the dangers of "rogue nations" like Iran, when they contribute more to Ron Paul's campaign than to any other including Obama's? And though it is common knowledge that active military has favored Republican presidential candidates in the past, this time around they are telling us that they have more trust in Ron Paul as the best leader in these troubled times.
Nope, good thing the people, the grassroots, the farmer, the peasant, the laborer and the clerk are all paying attention to rational arguments rather than distorted caricatures of Ron Paul's positions.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Trutherator
Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:34 PM
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